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O2 And Isobar NFC Competition Touches Developers For Cool Ideas

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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Isobar Create London is an upcoming free competition for developers of Near Field Communication apps

O2 is boosting Near Field Communications (NFC) awareness and uptake through a joint-venture developer challenge competition.

The mobile telecom giant, with communications agency Isobar, has launched announced Isobar Create London – a 36 hour developer challenge, dedicated to NFC applications.

The so-called “accelerator event” will begin on 24 March, and will offer a main prize of a kick-starter fund and a promotion opportunity in central London. The organisers hope to attract new talent, give developer teams a chance to play around with NFC, and perhaps come up with new and original uses of the technology. Participation is free.

Losing sleep over NFC

As the name suggests, near field is a form of very short range (about two inches) wireless communication that can carry two-way interactions between electronic devices. Because NFC only operates at close quarters, the standard has a large degree of inherent security.

It is expected that the technology will enable mobile phones to conduct small financial transactions, much like contactless payment cards do now.

On Saturday 24 March, teams of up to five people will work through the night at Shoreditch Studios in London, hoping to invent new modes of interaction between businesses and consumers with the help of NFC. Each team is expected to build a technical proof of concept during the event, and each idea must have a technical implementation.

“Overall coolness” is stated as one of the criteria the applications will be judged on. Other important considerations include level of innovation, impact on a brand, and commercial viability. When coding ends at 4pm on Sunday, each team will have three minutes to present their work to the audience and judges, which include representatives of O2, Isobar, BlackBerry and BlueVia.

The event will be attended by several guest speakers, including Brendan Marry, chief NFC engineer for Europe at Google.

The organisers will provide the facilities, power, connectivity, food, and refreshments. Professional designers will be on-hand to help participants think through their ideas, answer questions and give advice. Even the runners-up will receive mobile phones and other prizes.

So if you think you have what it takes to write an application that lets a washing machine talk to a mobile phone, Isobar Create London might be a perfect opportunity to test those skills. You can apply for a place through Isobar’s website.