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February 13, 2009

Calling all innovators – technology showcase

GLOBAL – Unlike the previous finalists, the technology showcase Calling all Innovators finalists have created applications that aren’t specific to a region, but instead should have global appeal. It takes a lot for me to be impressed with new technology, and whilst I found the other apps interesting and indeed impressive, the four technology showcase apps really push the boundaries.

EMEA’s finalist is PhotoMap, developed by Johannes Schöning at the Institute for Geoinformatics at the University of Münster, Germany. This app really impressed me, simply because of its usefulness. We’ve all landed somewhere new and found one of those “you are here” maps for a city centre. With PhotoMap, you can simply take a picture of the map, add your current position (and a second position for accuracy) and the map is ready for you to navigate with. Why would we want one of these when we can simply use Ovi Maps? Well, in many cases these local maps contain additional info (such as where certain shops are) which increases their usefulness and offer something that Ovi Maps might not, yet. Now, if we could just get GPS to work indoors, we could use this in shopping centres, a la indoor positioning!

kReader comes from the Americas and offers a nifty solution for those learning a new language or who have difficulty reading. Using the device’s camera, the app will scan a piece of text and then read it aloud to the user. Literacy is a huge problem, both in developed and developing countries, and this app could make a significant difference. Equally, it offers an interesting new way to learn a new language. I’d like to see a test with this app for kids learning new languages at school, to see if it makes a difference.

Pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with a mobile phone, APAC-based Neuvex have created something very intriguing, and if it comes to market, could be coming to a presentation near you soon. Although still in development Neuscreen takes any normal TV or projector screen and turns it into a pseudo touchscreen. Using the camera on an N95 and a specially adapted glove, the camera tracks the hand movements on screen (making it look like a touchscreen) and enables the user to activate menus and applications on the device. The TV screen uses the feed the TV out on the N95 to fill it’s display and after a quick bit of set up and calibration, even enables the user to draw basic pictures. Utterly stunning, but not in the shops yet. I wouldn’t using one for my next presentation though!

Utilising the latest generation of S60, X Dancery is a game app that makes the most of Nokia touchscreens. Using one of your MP3 files, it’ll tailor a game on the fly for you to play, using the beat and sound of the track to dictate the pace and type of game. It’s clever stuff indeed and offers a new approach to gaming. Developed by Simlife in China, X Dancery promises to “make the most of music, fun and innovation”.
This competition is all about innovation and pushing the envelope further than it’s been pushed before. I don’t think there’s any doubt that’s been achieved here. I’d love to get my hands on some of these apps and look forward to watching them develop over the year. Check back next week to see who the final winners are – we’re expecting the announcement to come out at Mobile World Congress early next week.

future tech