Qualcomm Offers Cash Prizes for Mobile Apps at Uplinq Hackathon

The X Prize Foundation likes to say its first $10 million prize (for successfully demonstrating a private rocket can reach space) has multiplied 100-fold, resulting in a $1 billion private space industry—not to mention the benefits of worldwide media coverage in 2004, when SpaceShipOne claimed the prize.

In recent years, it’s become increasingly clear that San Diego’s Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) has been paying attention.

As a prequel to its Uplinq developer conference set to begin in San Diego later this month, Qualcomm is now offering a total of $50,000 in cash and other prizes to mobile app developers attending a pre-conference “mobile codefest and hackathon.” The all-day event is limited to the first 300 people who sign up, and costs nothing beyond Uplinq’s regular registration fee. (Qualcomm is offering a 30 percent discount to Xconomy readers on its Uplinq registration fee, available through our event listing.)

Of course, these are Qualcomm-centric contests. As Liat Ben-Zur, a senior director of Qualcomm business development and software strategy, writes in a corporate blog, “We’ll have a lightning round of developers and teams presenting their apps based on one or more technologies from Qualcomm or Microsoft.”

The company plans to award $5,000 for the best app in each of five categories (see below), as well as a $25,000 grand prize to one of the five winners. The company also is providing a mobile device to the second-place winner in each category. The categories are:

—Best prototype app using facial processing

—Best Web app using HTML5

—Best Windows Phone app

—Best context awareness app

—Best multi-screen experience using (Qualcomm’s) AllJoyn technology

The event also features more than a dozen workshops covering such topics as developing 3D graphics based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Adreno GPU, writing Web apps with Qualcomm’s HTML5 device API extensions, and using Snapdragon tools for building augmented reality apps.

Qualcomm says this will be the first time it has hosted its own hackathon, but the company has been creating prize competitions for several years—beginning with the QPrize that Qualcomm Ventures created to accelerate wireless technologies in key business sectors. It’s a smart way to encourage development and expand the wireless ecosystem of devices and systems based on Qualcomm’s proprietary technologies.

Qualcomm’s biggest prize, of course, came in January, when CEO Paul Jacobs launched the $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize, saying the challenge to develop a handheld medical diagnosis device is intended to drive development of mobile wireless health technology for consumers. And maybe help to create a billion-dollar industry, too.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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