A team of students from London Metropolitan University and the London School of Communication Arts won one of the top prizes at the Isobar Create London Hackathon event at the Shoreditch Studios in Tech City this weekend.
Contestants were given 34 hours to devise and develop a mobile application that makes clever use of Near Field Communications (NFC) technology, before pitching it to a panel of judges. The two winning teams were awarded support and advice from a range of experts, as well as kick-starter funds to help bring their apps to market.
NFC is best known in the UK for its use in Transport for London's (TfL) Oyster cards. It allows consumers to carry out transactions by simply touching their NFC-enabled cards or phones to a point-of-sale terminal in a shop. It can also be used for data exchange, and simplified setup of more complex communications such as WiFi.
Team Rollercoaster won an undisclosed amount of funding from Telefónica Digital’s global development platform BlueVia, for its app that uses NFC to help theme park visitors pay for and secure their place in a queue for a ride, as well as offering other features to enjoy while they move along the queue.
Meanwhile, team Blue Butterfly won a separate £10k prize from NFC campaign specialists Proxama for its ‘Tap-to-WiFi’ app, which uses NFC to allow people to simply tap to connect directly to WiFi in bars, cafes, hotels and airports.
Twenty teams entered the competition in total, made up of 65 people from five countries. There were also four category winners in the areas of Leisure & Entertainment, Sports, Retail and Finance, sponsored by Diageo, Adidas, Kellogg’s and Visa, respectively.
The Leisure & Entertainment category was also won by Blue Butterfly; team Ying Yang won the Sports category for its app that allows users to view photos by time and location; the Retail category was won by team We’re Appy, whose app uses games mechanics to encourage users to complete their courses of medicine; and New Found Comms won the Finance category for their app that enables advertisers to engage directly with consumers using NFC through digital signage.
“We’ve been delighted to have so many talented developers and designers from across Europe at Isobar Create London,” said Dom O’Brien, head of innovation at digital agency glue Isobar. “NFC is an exciting technology that we believe will have a big impact on the lives of people.”
The news follows the discovery this weekend of a flaw in Barclays contactless bank cards, that could allow customers' data to be stolen and used fraudulently without them knowing about it.
An investigation by ViaForensics, in conjunction with Channel 4 News, has revealed that data can be lifted from NFC chips used in Barclays contactless cards by simply touching them with a smartphone. That data – which is unencrypted – can then be used to purchase multiple goods online.