Cracking the Commuter Conundrum with the Atos IT Challenge

Posted on: September 29, 2015 by

There are more connected devices than people on the planet, and this number is only going to keep growing. The most conservative forecast suggests the number of connected devices will increase to a staggering 26 billion by 2020. Mobile of course plays a key part in this, and in the EU alone there are currently 1.3 million app developers, many of whom are working on initiatives to truly bring the connected world to life.

Connected living is going to have a tremendous impact, bringing with it huge opportunities; firstly for businesses to reinvent themselves and accelerate growth, and secondly to significantly enhance the customer experience. For me, the most exciting area of development lies in connected cars. This is because they will help bring about important global changes through reduced carbon emissions and congestion and enhanced driver experiences.

Inspiring future generations to innovate

Connected living is such a key topic this year that we decided to make it the focus of the 2015 Atos IT Challenge. This annual competition was set up back in 2012 with the aim of fostering and encouraging innovation in the future generation of IT professionals. It challenges some of the most talented and motivated students globally to develop an application to address a real-world issue and impact consumers’ lives. This year’s challenge was:

“What new smart mobile device app could be created to enhance people’s lives and provide value added services through connected living, think of connected kitchen, connected home, connected health, connected train, etc. ?”

As coach to the winning team, it has been really exciting for me to be a part of this challenge. In my role within Intellectual Property at Atos, it is my responsibility to ensure that we’re not only consistently innovating as a company, but also, that this innovation can be protected. Pushing young, enthusiastic minds to come up with fresh ideas through the Atos IT Challenge is one way to ensure this can happen.

For contestants, the highlight was being able to work closely with Atos and members of the Scientific Community and learning about other aspects of business outside of R&D, such as marketing and communication. In my coaching role, I supported the winning team by giving them guidance on their business plan, as well as feedback on their design. A business plan should always be built around demand – if the market isn’t ready for your new idea, there’s little point in taking it from the drawing board to reality!

We recently announced the winners, who will be travelling to the Mobile Competence Center in Barcelona to meet with experts and discuss how their app can be further developed and brought to market. The winners came from engineering college ENSEIRB-MATMECA, impressing the judges with their solid business plan and design for ‘Comfort Train’. This app helps people travelling in cities find the least crowded carriage on their train, as well as the most convenient carriage for passengers to be in for the next stage in their journey.

Comfort Train uses an algorithm to help spread the commuters throughout the train, as well as counting software which analyses camera data from platforms to compute the flow of people boarding and leaving the train. In particular, the jury praised this app for its excellent technical design, intuitive interface and great business case. The team is already in talks with SNCF, France’s national rail company, regarding the future of the application.

Runner up in the completion was project YES (Your Energy Solution) which creates a schedule of the most efficient time to use renewable energy in houses by analysing renewable energy charge data, pricing data and energy consumption data. The business case for this app is impressive: the app can save users up to 47% on their energy bills and can optimise the efficiency of energy use, leading to environmental benefits as well.

For more detailed information about the challenge, the entries and judging, please visit the contest website, or hear from the finalists in a short video below. And hot on the heels of this year’s challenge, our next contest will be focused on the “Right to be Forgotten” and will require entrants to create an app to help track and manage personal data. If you think you’ve got what it takes to win, stay tuned for further details to be announced soon!

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