Students showcase innovative apps at tech fairs

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 March, 2014, 3:28am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 March, 2014, 3:28am

Universities are showing off mobile application technologies developed by their students to thousands of vendors set to exhibit at hi-tech fairs organised by the Trade Development Council next month.

They include an app that matches schedules to find times and dates when people are available to meet and one that controls robots with a motion sensor.

Developed by students from Chinese University, City University, Baptist University and the Community College at Polytechnic University, the apps are being pitched to exhibitors at the electronics, ICT and lighting fairs, which will run at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai from April 13 to 16.

"We were inspired by the movie Real Steel," Fong Ching-kui said. The 22-year-old engineer at City University has created a computer code that lets him control a robot using a motion sensor with which the robot mimics his actions.

In Real Steel, human boxers are replaced by robots controlled in similar ways.

At a press conference yesterday, Fong's classmate used an app and voice commands to control his robot, while Fong used his motion sensors to set up the two robots in a mock battle.

"I'm not sure what we want to do with this, but I want to teach secondary students to programme. If I can teach them to programme robots, that's going to be much better getting their interest," Fong said.

At the next table, Chinese University showed off its Match A Day, which uses near-field communication - a means of radio contact between two touching phones - to find the best date for people to meet.

The students' work can be found at the fairs' App Zone along with 10 other applications by students, and more from corporate developers.

Hong Kong has increasingly become a hub for mobile application developers over the past few years, prompting the council to open an App Zone at the fairs last year.

The average smartphone in Hong Kong had about 39 mobile applications, with at least 10 of them being paid apps, according to a survey by Google and Ipsos MediaCT last year. Smartphone penetration was 63 per cent, according to the same survey.

Organisers say notable products at the fairs include a plethora of 3-D printers, wearable technologies such as Bluetooth-connected hats, energy-efficient lighting solutions and an electronic shoe sanitiser.