In the technology industry, trends come and go, buzz increases and decreases, fashions fall in and out of favor. Two crazes that don’t seem to be going out of style anytime soon, however, are the movements towards near field communication (NFC) and hackathons.
Hackathons have literally been springing up all over the place, with eager young programmers across the world gathering in dimly lit halls to code well into the night, fueled by a combination of passion, energy drinks and geeky ambition.
In exchange for hundreds of boxes of pizza and many cases of beer, the brightest minds are given a task and told to have at it, with the promise of a grand prize for any developer managing to hack out some new-fangled, ground-breaking, killer app for the technology in question.
And the latest technology in dire need of a killer app, ladies and gents, is NFC.
Poor old NFC seems to have been almost at the crest of the mobile technology wave for years now, but has yet to really break big. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride, the technology is widely available, standardized and supported, but has thus far failed to generate much consumer interest, despite the promise it holds in the fields of mobile payments and data exchange.
Hence, “Tapped”; the latest NFC accelerator/hackathon, backed by some of the biggest names in the industry, including MIT, Facebook, Verizon, Samsung and others.
Tapped is offering a $6,000 cash prize, along with lesser prizes of free hosting and equipment to developers who come up with the best use of the technology, in a contest that spans six days across three major US cities, New York, San Francisco and Boston.
As is the case for most hackathons, the events are all free to enter, but to have any chance of winning, developers are told they will need to come up with novel NFC mobile app prototypes and a solid business plan – not a simple feat in just 48 hours.
The event’s organizers are also placing a strong focus on apps using NFC in the realm of social, gaming and Internet of Things, and must run on Android.
Tapped says developers will be loaned NFC-enabled Android smartphones to build their apps on, though the organizers also encourage hackers to use dedicated NFC-enabled devices built on Arduino and Raspberry Pi.
Visual designers will be on hand to help hackers with their app’s user experience and graphics, in order to let teams get on with the nitty-gritty of actual problem solving and technical details.
The apps that make it through the Tapped accelerator will also be polished, prepped and honed for entry into the NFC Innovation contest at WIMA USA 2012 in San Francisco, which runs from November 27-29, 2012.
Though it may all seem too good to be true, the organizers of Tapped insist that no matter what happens at the hackathon, a developer’s code, ideas and thoughts remain theirs (or that of their team’s).
“You keep your code wherever you want and we will never take it away from you,” says the organization on its website, adding that it simply wants to “help spur innovation and help NFC become ubiquitous and that’s it.”
That being said, the Tapped organizers warn potential participants that any ideas and prototypes presented will clearly no longer be confidential, which seems obvious enough.
We’re told that Tapped is especially keen to see entries from female hackers, as hackathons for the most part remain predominantly male.
If you’re interested in taking part, or know anyone who might like a chance at participating, do send them along to the Tapped registration page here.
Also, let us know what you think… what would you do with NFC if you had the resources? Are hackathons the best way of finding new use case models for the technology? And should young developers entrust their best ideas and code to corporate consortiums? The comment section is yours to use…
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.