Andrew Seybold Innovation RallyFriday, May 08, 2009
At this Spring's Wireless University, we tried an experiment. Toward the end of the day, we held an Innovation Rally. This first Rally was based on a car theme, and we had solicited software developers to enter a contest for the best software applications, some of which may become part of the digital dashboard that will be the future of our automobiles.
The concept was proposed to us by Ecrio, a fairly new company that has done some groundbreaking work in the area of sales coupons. Its system, which will first be deployed on the NASCAR website and at races, enables individuals to download discount coupons for merchandise, and upon check-out, redeem the coupons by simply pointing a key fob device at the bar code scanner that reads the coupon, applies the discount, and then sends all of the information to a central server where it can be analyzed. Because of its relationship with NASCAR, Ecrio was able to supply the prizes and arranged for Michael Kadie to speak about his electric car, which is far more advanced than anything coming out of Detroit, Germany, or Asia. The tie-in is that his dashboard is made up of several computer screens resulting in a digital dashboard, and a variety of applications can be installed and run in the car in near real-time.
Michael brought his electric car with him and parked it in front of the convention center so the attendees had an opportunity to take a look at it and see how he had integrated his digital dashboard into the vehicle.
The idea of the competition portion of the Innovation Rally was to find new and innovative applications. Prior to the Rally, we put out a call for developers to submit their applications for our review. We were swamped with entries, and out of them the judges chose six finalists to present their applications to the Wireless University attendees who would vote on them using a text application arranged for by Ecrio. From this six, the attendees chose three winners and each was awarded a free week-end at the Richard Petty Driving Experience, which it graciously donated.
The six finalists were:
Alltel's Mobile Advisor, a free application that helps customers maximize their device experience
eMbience's Music Box, the first mobile music portal that enables you rent songs instead of buy them
Global Fitness Media's GoodFoodNearYou, a location-based application that helps you find healthier food near where you are
Orange's FT Group with Clip2Mobile, an application that enables you to clip virtually any information on your desktop and put it on your phone for future reference
ProxPro's Prompt Carrier Edition that makes sure you leave and arrive on time by monitoring traffic and other conditions that can affect your commute or trip
Telmap's Telmap5, a personalized location companion that integrates many different ways of locating and searching for information
Attendees were treated to demos from the finalists, some using PowerPoint presentations and live demos, and others talking about their applications and then running a demo. After all of the demos were completed, attendees were asked to vote by texting a code to a specific address. The votes were automatically tallied and the winners were determined. It was close on all counts and at one point there was a tie, which I ended up breaking with my vote, but in reality, all of the finalists deserved to win and the entrants are to be congratulated for their work. Each application was new and different and not just some run-of-the-mill application (not to say there are no great applications in the marketplace, but many seem to be dull compared to the better ones).
The Envelopes Please!
The winners of the Andrew Seybold Innovation Rally and the Richard Petty Driving Experience were:
ProxPro Prompt Carrier Edition. I believe one of the main reasons ProxPro won is because we can all identify with the service it provides. The premise is to monitor your calendar, where it locates an offsite meeting or a trip to the airport. Then it monitors the traffic on the route and provides a "leave by time." This time is updated as you get ready to leave because the application is reviewing time/location-based weather and traffic incidents. Based on this information, it adjusts the route and travel time. Then it will give you voice directions as you travel. This is version only 1.0 of Prompt and it will get better-ProxPro understands the importance of meshing location, travel, and calendar appointments together to provide a much needed service.
Next up was Global Fitness Media with GoodFoodNearYou. The premise of this application is that it is easy to find fast food and plenty of restaurants almost anywhere you go. However, if like many of us, you are trying to eat smarter and are looking for healthier food, it is often hard to find. GoodFoodNearYou helps solve that problem. The application provides instant access to menus as well as nutrition information for popular casual dining restaurants, fast food eateries, grocery, and even convenience stores near where you are.
Orange's FTGroup was the third winner with Clip2Mobile, which enables you to clip anything you find on the web or on your computer and quickly and easily transfer it to your mobile device. With this application, you can create notes or contacts on your desktop and send them instantly to your mobile phone. You can also launch Google Maps with a specified address, launch your browser for a specific site and bookmark it, drag and drop images, videos, and files from your desktop, drag and drop text from other applications, and share clips with your friends, in an easy-to-use, very user-friendly, manner.
It was tough to whittle down all of the entries to six finalists, but we somehow managed. It would have been nice for all of the entries to be presented to the attendees, but because of time limitations, that was not possible. The winners are to be congratulated, and those who entered but were not among the finalists are encouraged to enter again for our Fall Andrew Seybold Wireless University. We will once again be selecting finalists and attendees will be able to see application demos and vote on them. Our first attempt at the Innovation Rally was a little rough, I will admit, but we learned a lot and heard from attendees that they would like to see a similar program in the fall.
Again, congratulations to all of the winners and finalists, and to all who entered our competition. It is clear that we are beginning to see smarter applications that take advantage of smarter devices and smarter networks. As many of you know, I am not a fan of using a browser on a handheld wireless device and it appears as though many within the developer community feel the same. So, when we announce the opening of our Innovation Rally competition in a few months, we would like to see you submit your applications for our review and we wish you all good luck. Keep up the good work!
Andrew M. Seybold