At Uplinq, Qualcomm’s annual developer conference, mobile application developers were exposed to advances in both hardware and software SDK’s, as well as competitions to drive innovation.
CEO Paul Jacobs opened the event with a keynote themed on “Connecting the Internet of Things”. By demonstrating a new connected data app from Nero and an attendees-nearby app by Bizzabo, the keynote gave real examples of how Qualcomm’s AllJoyn, an open source ad hoc connectivity SDK, could help make this possible.
Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon SDKs, optimized for the Snapdragon SOC, providing various groundbreaking features, such as motion-based gesture-detection, burst capture, facial processing, geofencing and indoor positioning, surround sound recording, echo cancellation and noise suppression (mainly for VoIP, but also for things like Siri and Google Now).
Qualcomm Labs revealed the public release of Gimbal (formerly known as Context), a SDK designed to help make apps more contextually-aware. A cloud-based marker-recognition version of Vuforia was also demonstrated, susceptible to network latency.
The tools have been established, but Qualcomm is also sparking interest by sponsoring several contests.
One of the invited keynote speakers at Uplinq 2012 was Peter Diamandis — the creator of the X Prize series of breakthrough competitions. In his talk, Diamandis supplied a lesser known fact of the Spirit of St Louis and Charles Lindbergh, who flew across the Atlantic, only because of a contest. The team that won the Ansari X Prize for suborbital commercial spaceflights ended up spending several times the cost of the prize money — that, along with the R&D provided by the other competitors, sparks a very good ROI.
Perhaps inspired by Diamandis’ ROI argument, Qualcomm announced two developer contests at Uplinq: Windows RT Metro Style App Developer Contest, with five categories, and prizes totaling $200,000. 2net App Developer Challenge for interfacing with mHealth data, with prizes ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. Both contests have deadlines in October.
While these prizes are too trivial to draw headlines (or project-based investors), Qualcomm has also partnered with X Prize for a $10 million TriCorder design contest.
Unity Engine’s Tony Garcia also announced support for Windows RT, but the expected release time will likely not work out for those wishing to use Unity with the Qualcomm Windows RT Metro contest, with a deadline in October. Unity, if you’re not aware, is the groundbreaking cross-platform 3D engine that powers many of the most popular games on iOS and Android, and can scale up to the major gaming consoles. Support for Windows RT is a victory for Microsoft, as the company expects to not see many x86-based apps make the jump to Windows-on-ARM.
Uplinq is an interesting conference, complete with its own signature big bash, Q on 5th. There’s a mix of sales, vendors, and technical assistance. Whereas Google I/O and WWDC focus mostly on technical sessions and programming, IDF and Uplinq aim to make the monolithic hardware vendors more personable, and succeed at that goal.
But please, next year, let’s not have them happen simultaneously. It can lead to, well, burnout, for some of us in the media.