Healthy competition for apps for the home

The Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation (ACBI) has announced prizes of up to $20,000 in a new competition aimed at developers of applications for broadband-connected homes.

The ACBI – a partnership between the CSIRO, National ICT Australia (NICTA), NBN Co and the NSW and Tasmanian governments – is hoping to stimulate the business environment for developers while promoting the potential of broadband in the home to consumers and industry.

The Apps4Broadband competition follows an ACBI’s industry white paper (pdf) published last October, which canvassed the potential of broadband-connected homes in areas such as home telehealth and home telecare, particularly for older people.

“We’ve been doing a little bit of work ourselves in this space,” ACBI director Colin Griffith said of the decision to launch Apps4Broadband.

“Part of it is trying to understand what the environment is like within a broadband-connected home. What does that environment look like – not just in terms of the broadband connection, but also connecting devices in the home? And what are the capabilities you have to develop new services and apps based on those emerging trends?

“This is a new opportunity for Australian app developers, but also for businesses wanting to connect to their customers in new ways. What we’re trying to do is accelerate those developments.”

Mr Griffith said there has been a lot of attention placed on broadband infrastructure in terms of how much it costs and how to build it, “but an equal amount of attention should be put on how we use it and how we develop services based on that infrastructure”, he said.

Regarding eHealth, Mr Griffith said that encouraging local innovation was important because solutions needed to be found for Australia’s unique health-services environment.

However, he did note that Europe had done well in creating a funding system for telehealth via local health boards.

“That’s one of the things in Australia that we are keen to see develop – how do public or private funding systems develop here?”

Apps4Broadband will host “hack days” in Sydney and Melbourne in mid-May, and entries close on June 11. The best app will win $20,000, and winners in three categories – smart appliances, security and energy; media and entertainment; and health, education and social services – will be awarded $10,000.

The prizes have been funded by Foxtel, iiNet, Intel and the NSW Government, and winners will also receive industry mentorships and support for testing their apps.

Mr Griffith said the competition was a one-off at the moment, but if it was successful, ACBI and its partners would look at continuing it or introducing sector-specific initiatives.

Organisations and developers interested in entering the competition can obtain more information from ACBI’s Apps4Broadband page.

Posted in Aged Care

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