18 September 2013

Kenya: Qualcomm Targets Kenyan Developers With Snapdragon, Vuforia Apis

Qualcomm has launched their Qualcomm Developer Network in Kenya. The launch was done at Mobile Monday held at the iHub. Qualcomm makes chipsets that power phones, and now has their chipsets powering more than half of the smartphones sold globally.

The firm also develops the technology behind 3G, getting paid royalties by network vendors like Ericsson and Huawei when they sell 3G to providers like Safaricom. Qualcomm is also part of the firms behind 4G-LTE, which is being rolled out to provide better speeds and services than 3G.

Qualcomm is looking to drive usage and adoption of smartphones, and 3G and 4G networks by empowering developers to create better applications that use smartphone capabilities.

In Kenya, Qualcomm is also looking to link up developers with device manufacturers, who are now looking for local applications and content. The device manufacturers are looking to differentiate their devices, which now either run Android or Windows Phone, by bundling unique, local content and apps.

The number of smartphone sin the country has been growing, with 1 in every phones sod every month being smartphones. 500,000 phones are sold in Kenya every month. The number of smartphones in the country is currently about 4 million. Qualcomm's Developer Network provides two application programming interfaces(APIs) to developers. Billy Owino, Director of Business Development in charge of East Africa at Qualcomm likens the API to a car manufacturer such as Subaru, or Mercedes, giving the knowledge of the inside functionality of their vehicles to WRX and AMG, allowing them to make custom, 'souped' up cars.

Likewise, the Qualcomm Snapdragon API and the Vuforia API enables developers to explore and take advantage of the chipsets that power smartphones, allowing them to build better and efficient applications that would in turn attract users.

The Snapdragon API will enable developers to take advantage of features such as facial processing, surround sound recording, low power geofencing, indoor location capabilities, and touch free gestures.

Indoor location can be used by malls to target buyers with offers once they are inside the mall, or near the mall, while touch free gestures can be used to provide for phone interaction without the user touching the screen.

The Vuforia API enables developers to provide apps with augmented reality functionality, or as Billy puts it, make their apps see. Through the phone camera, users can see 3D mock ups of a print image. This has been used by advertisers to enable people interact with adverts, such as a fridge advert that lets you open the "fridge" and see inside or explore the technical bits of the fridge.

Toy manufacturers have also used augmented reality to build interactive games once the toys are in view of the camera. A separate education app lets users interact with a 3D mockup of human anatomy systems. A simple augmented reality app lets users see how various watches would look on their wrist.

Locally, Billy envisions augmented reality being used to create 3D mockups of adverts, such as in real estate, to enable users take a virtual tour, and arrange their furniture around the house.

A session to familiarise developers on how the two APIs can be utilised will be held in October.

Dennis Mbuvi

Dennis Mbuvi has been writing at CIO East Africa Magazine and CIO.co.ke since May 2010. His key focus is the use of technology to solve day to day business challenges and product reviews. Mbuvi has been invited to speak at various IT, Telecom and Media events in the region. He was also a keynote speaker at the inaugural Joomla day in Kenya talking on possibilities of the Joomla Content Management System. Mbuvi holds a B.Sc in Computer Science degree from Kenyatta University. He is on Twitter as @denniskioko

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