Yesterday, a group of developers sat in a silent battle in San Diego, vying for app supremacy. To kick off Qualcomm's Uplinq conference, coders from around the world descended upon the city in hopes of winning a slice of the $50,000 pie of prizes for best app in one of five categories. The teams, both established and last-minute alliances, had 12 hours to create a fully functional app in one of the following categories.
- Best multi-screen experience using AllJoyn
- Best facial processing prototype app using the newly released Snapdragon SDK
- Best web app using HTML5 device APIs
- Best Windows Phone App
- Best context awareness app using ContextBETA mobile SDK
The finished products ranged from games, to apps to help you keep track of your finances or health, to crash detectors, and everything in between.
One team called The Lift told Qualcomm Spark that they were inspired by science fiction and movies like Minority Report when thinking up their contextual awareness app. "The app is designed to recognize a person and offer a custom-tailored advertisement," said Brandon Maseda -- describing technology once only created for Hollywood.
Other teams came in with far less of a plan, forming teams the day-of. One independent developer, Brett Whitkee, told Qualcomm Spark he was learning as he went along. "We’re here for experience, to learn something. Of course if we win, it would be great," he added.
Almost all of the developers agreed that it was ideal to be in San Diego, which is certainly a hub for mobile innovation. Daniel Armanto, a developer from Indonesia, said that having access to the newly released public preview of the Snapdragon SDK was "nothing you see in Indonesia," where mobile penetration is not very widespread, and making web apps is far more popular.
Some coders made it to a finished product, others didn’t get that far, but only one walked away with the $25,000 grand prize. This year’s winner was Richard Stoner of UCSD with his Remote Diagnostic for Autism app.
Stoner came in the competition with the knowledge that researchers can detect early forms of Autism as young as 12 months based on eye movement in response to pictures. Building upon that knowledge, he tapped into the “gaze tracker” function – a feature once available only to OEMs, now available to developers as part of the Snapdragon SDK. “This functionality literally didn’t exist to developers until today. Trust me, I tried to make on iOS and Android 2.3.”
Stoner hopes the app will be especially handy in developing nations where people don’t have access to expensive medical diagnostic tools.
Other winners include Car Join, an app that uses AllJoyn to automatically call 911 and Flicky Brick, which also uses the technology in a fast-paced game of throwing bricks between phones while building Tetris-like structures.
Ending the codefest at nearly 1 a.m. after 16 hours of coding, it’s safe to say the city of San Diego may need to replenish its stock of Red Bull.