What if you could keep an eye on what is happening at home from your mobile phone? Two 22-year-old Hong Kong University graduates have developed a Java 2 Micro Edition-based application that can do just that. Called e-Eye, it is a wireless solution that allows live video captured on network cameras in the home to be streamed directly to Motorola's Java-enabled handset, the Accompli 6288, via a video-streaming server. The e-Eye is the winning entry in a J2ME competition jointly organised by Motorola, Sun Microsystems and Hutchison Telecom. The aim of the competition was to identify talented developers and develop applications using J2ME on Motorola's A6288 that would have a broad consumer or corporate appeal. Zoe Yu and Hody Hung, both research students in HKU's post-graduate programmes in computer and electrical engineering, developed e-Eye in their spare time over two months. Ms Yu and Mr Hung had never worked with Sun's J2ME language before entering the competition, although they did have some basic experience with the Java programme language. 'J2ME was very easy to figure out. Basically, the challenges were related to the hardware which does not support colour, has limited Ram and very, very low-resolution,' said Ms Yu. At the heart of e-Eye is a motion-detection technology, which was developed by the two students. The technology can spot changes captured by the live cameras and send alert messages via SMS to users' Java-enabled handsets. The technology also works with PCs. Live camera images streamed to the Motorola Accompli A6288 are displayed in four levels of grey, enough to make out shapes but not clear enough for details such as facial features. The video refreshes every 12 seconds, or when it spots a difference in the image. Captured images are stored in the video database, allowing video playback. The runner-up prize went to a trio that developed a horse-racing WAP game for Java-enabled mobile phones, which also allows multiple players over a GPRS network. Sam Sze, a technical manager at View Technologies and two computer science and engineering students from the Chinese University of Hong Kong created the horse-racing game in a similar concept to Tamagotchi. The game allows a user to 'train' his own horse before racing. Depending on the virtual training and care, each horse develops a unique embedded 'DNA', or virtual personality that will affect its performance and outcome of the race. This means that no two horses are the same. Players can download and race on multiple race courses, while the horses' performances depend largely on how each user trains his horse. 'This game incorporates major features of J2ME application program interface, including graphics, sound, networking, multi-threading, database and multi-lingual capabilities in a tiny-size program,' Mr Sze said, adding they did not have any prior experience with J2ME. 'We spent maybe three hours or less every day over three to four weeks to develop this game,' Mr Sze said. Echoing Ms Yu, he said the main challenge was hardware-related. 'There are bandwidth, memory and graphics constraints. I believe when 3G comes and the handsets become more powerful, this will be a very compelling application,' he said. Third prize went to an application built by employees from RichWap, a local developer of wireless solutions. Called the Mobile Building Automation, the J2ME-based application simplifies conventional building maintenance work flow. Air-conditioning, lighting, lift, security and access control systems in most buildings in Hong Kong are maintained by companies specialising in building maintenance, such as Honeywell, Siemens and Johnson Controls. So, for example, if the air-conditioning on three floors of the Landmark fails, a supervisor will dispatch a field engineer to the location. Often, the field engineer would not be able to fix the problem immediately because he did not bring the right parts to replace faulty components in the air-conditioning system. RichWap's solution aims to simplify and streamline this by allowing the supervisor to target the problem first and then tell the field engineer what parts to bring. RichWap's solution will work with about 10,000 intelligent buildings in Hong Kong such as The Centre, Cheung Kong Centre and International Finance Centre. Jonathan Wong, director at RichWap, said the application was developed outside of work and with no prior J2ME experience. 'I think the competition and the quality of work we were up against was very good considering none of us had any experience with J2ME. It shows that it is not too late if Hong Kong wants to become a technology leader in the Asia region,' he said.