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February 5, 2009

Calling all innovators – ECO-Challenge showcase

GLOBAL – As we promised last week, we’re taking a peek at the 11 finalists in the Forum Nokia CallingAllInnovators competition, ahead of the final results being announced at Mobile World Congress on the 17th. First up we have the finalists from the ECO-Challenge category. With the simple strapline “Make a difference”, giving ECO its own category highlights the importance of improving our ecological lot. The four finalists took dramatically different approaches to the Making a Difference challenge. Read on to find out what they were.

Broken into four territories, each with its own finalist in each of the three categories, the first ECO-Challenge finalist we’re looking at comes from Europe, Middle East and Africa. Using travel, and specifically car travel as its start point Road-Guard came up with GreendDrive. It’s primary aim is to improve fuel economy by utilising Road-Guard’s Horizon Prediction technology to better inform drivers of their fuel consumption. As well as the ability to look back at your drive, the app constantly monitors a collection of driving variables and suggests optimum speeds for you to drive. The central aim is to help drivers use less fuel and it reckons average fuel savings of 15-25 per cent can be made.

Orugga, finalist from the Americas, put paper in its sights when it set out to create Mobile Ticketing. The idea is simple – enable people and companies to stop using paper tickets. It provides mobile access to Ticketek, the largest ticket broker in Argentina, Australia and New Zealand and using barcodes enables users to use their Nokia device in place of paper tickets. The Argentinian developer worked with Ticketek and Telecom Personal to develop the app.

APAC-based MobiMonster focussed on maximising battery and charger life to ensure your phone has the lowest possible carbon footprint. By regulating the backlight, WiFi and Bluetooth it conserves your device’s battery life. If a service isn’t in use it’ll provide a notification and automatically switches the backlight off if the device isn’t in use. Of course we can do all this stuff manually, but this is the first app to bring all three together, and I have to say it’s something I welcome wholeheartedly.

Beijing-based TigerKnows Co. has used its new TigerMap app to bring public transport to the fore, encouraging and enabling users to make better transport choices, thereby lessening the reliance on car use. With a range of detailed local search info available, even finding a particular dish in a particular restaurant, the app promises to be super-useful when out and about. It’s killer ECO angle though is the integration of public transport info and its ability to throw up public transport options alongside search results.

Before I looked into these apps in detail, I didn’t expect to see such a variety of solutions. I’m quite buoyed by the ECO finalists. I reckon the key to all these apps is that they’re not trying to change everything. Each one is utterly focussed and, when combined with mass adoption could collectively make an incredible difference. What do you think?