Hello! Come meet our very own BlackBerry Boys. As RIM (Research In Motion) launches the BlackBerry 10 (BB10), the smartphone from its stable, in Mumbai today, we in the city have much reason to cheer. It is a proud moment for students and engineers working in the tech-business incubators at the Startup Village in Kalamassery for they have developed more than 200 apps for the BB10World app market. These youngsters are thrilled.
Twenty-one-year-old Arvind Sanjeev’s app, RideSmart, has received an appreciation from BlackBerry and he is all set to be part of the launch. He has been invited for the event to showcase the possibilities of controlling the car using his app that facilitates remote vehicle activation using smartphones.
With the RideSmart one can switch on the car, control the features like AC, parking lights, central locking, engine start, power windows and many other activities. “It has a futuristic scope of even controlling your car via the smartphone,” says Arvind. The app needs a small hardware module to be fitted in the car.
Arun Ravi K., 23, and Ramchand B.R., 23, who represent Agrima Infotech Pvt Ltd., are from a group of seven engineering students who are the developers of ‘India’s first Humanoid Robot with Artificial Intelligence’. Their app VIKI is a personal assistant exclusive for BlackBerry phones. Information like real time news, weather forecasts, current movies, live scores, conversation etc. will be served to the users via this application. “The main attraction is that the users can have a conversation with their phone,” say Arun and Ram, adding that VIKI responds after studying client behaviour. “VIKI is not something but someone,” they say proudly.
It was in May last year that BlackBerry set up Rubus Labs, BB’s first innovation zone, in Asia-Pacific, at the Startup Village, to enable youngsters create basic apps and market them. Through live Webinars and seminars they encouraged and guided youngsters to actively be a part of the process of developing the BB10. Six months ago they provided developer devices at Rubus to those who were interested in making apps. “This gave them the advantage. Blackberry also arranged for hackathons and workshops in Kerala. At a hackathon in Bangalore students from the Startup Village came up trumps winning the first prize,” says Zacharias Manuel, Knowledge Architect of Startup Village declaring with pride that the average age of the techies is below 30.
BASE Kerala (Blackberry App Student Entrepreneur) was another collaborative between Blackberry and Startup Village which was run across five engineering colleges in the State that threw up student developers. “Our company Profundis has developed 12 simple apps for BB10,” say Jofin Joseph and Sachin Mathew disclosing that the brief from BB was to open up the phone from being just a business phone to a wider market including students and homemakers. Hence their apps Yoga, Make-a-Drink and the likes are conducive for all users. Recently, their company, which is mainly into Date Analysis has got selected for Microsoft Accelerator Programme, the first company from Kerala.
Rohil Dev, 22 of RHL Vision swipes his hand casually over his developer device and turns on the music. He casually runs it back and forth and changes the tracks. His app, Ferne Player, a trackless music player enables the pause, stop, play features by a simple hand movement.
Arun Chandran and Ratheesh VR started Ovoid, an independent video game development company. Their prime focus is on gaming and they have made Ikebana, a puzzle game for the smartphone.
The Movie Tarot, an app made by riafy, a team of six developers, “quantifies hype” over a film and predict its box office rating, explains John Mathew, Benoy Joseph and Joseph Babu. They claim to have had considerable success, at the trial stage, with their app, having used it to predict box-office rating for some of the recently released films like Talaash, Vishwaroopam and Kai Po Che.
Annie Mathew, Director, Alliances and Business Development, RIM, states that the biggest contribution by these ‘Blackberry Boys’ is innovation, on how the consumer engages with the BB, of how the phone is used to manage systems. The other thing she foresees is “the creation in large numbers of locally relevant applications because you have Malayalis making apps for Malayalis. They understand the need so it becomes more personal.” Meanwhile, the young men for whom it has been a “big learning experience,” wait eagerly for the response to their applications from the Indian market, already having got good feedback from markets in Canada and America.