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LABS
A Wrap-Up of DevCon 5 2013

HTML5 has long been one of the hottest topics in mobile technology circles. The concept of write once, deploy everywhere is an alluring one. I attended DevCon 5 this past summer, a conference dedicated to HTML5 and the advancement of the web. I watched three three presentations that have stuck with me, and wanted to highlight them here:

Customer Enrollment using Mobile Web and Mobile Imaging

Mitek Systems’ CTO, Michael Strange, shared his experiences creating a mobile solution that would enable users to make deposits simply by taking pictures of checks. The process is extremely complex; given the extremely diverse amount of situations and scenarios in which this check-scanning process could take place, there is no shortage of variables that need to be considered in order to accurately read this information.

Strange explained the general process: an algorithm processes the information from the photos, while verifying the check (and making sure it’s not a fake). The algorithm recognizes the security features on the check itself as part of the verification.

There are many other factors, such as ensuring that the check is an object with sharp corners; however, during the pilot testing phase, Strange discovered that many checks often had torn corners, which meant the algorithm needed to be modified with a condition that accepts some tearing. Similarly, in the scenario that users tried to modify or Photoshop the amount on the cheque, Mitek uses an algorithm to match characters to the text written (even in cursive). These are just two examples of the many variations that occur when dealing with this type of use case. It was fascinating listening to Strange talk about the complexities of building this type of mobile solution.

Transitioning Video

Pablo Schklowsky of Long Tail Video explained the landscape of videos, and the solution that the company’s open-source video player, JW Player, offers.

While JW Player affects both desktop and mobile browsers, I’ll use the example of desktop browsers to illustrate the problem JW Player solves. Amongst the major desktop browsers available, there are four that stand out: Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, and Mozilla Firefox. These four browsers don’t share a single proper standard; rather, because of their different methods of doing business and the differences in values, they operate with different procedures and standards in video (e.g., Apple pays for licenses, whereas Google only uses software with open licenses). Video standards are all extremely fragmented.

Because no one video standard fits across all browsers, there is a need for a solution that detects the different browser that is being used and plays the video type appropriate for that browser. JW player is that solution: it detects the browser and plays the appropriate file. It helps create the optimal viewing experience for all types of browsers.

The Power of HTML5 in the Automobile

The advent of the connected car means changes for many of the industry’s big players. QNX has been a long-time creator of software platforms for connected systems (such as vehicles). QNX’s Automotive Product Marketing Manager, Tina Jeffrey, shared her observations on the car industry today, and how the landscape has been evolving.

Automotive companies today are focused on implementing solutions for navigation, parking, and booking restaurants. QNX’s platform can operate in almost any vehicle. QNX is extremely closely integrated in the automobile’s system, having a very comprehensive set of specifications and standards to live up to. The amount of quality assurance (QA) it goes through before software launches remains unknown (Jeffrey estimated it would take 6-12 months, but my guess is closer to 1-2 years and according to platform and which vendors get on board). Anything that is core to the car probably won’t hit the market till 4-5 years (e.g., actual car OS and tachometer). QNX’s apps will probably be 6 months to 1 year to develop.

QNX’s lengthy QA time puts it at a disadvantage to other types of apps that will be joining the automotive app ecosystem. For example, when Apple announced car connectivity, they made the debut with a list of vendors that were going to support them. iOS will have a specialized car mode that could connect it with these vehicles it partnered up with; that means apps could be compatible with the car just through the iOS. However, this car mode will not allow third-party apps (similar to Apple TV).

The lack of third-party compatibility is a relief for QNX, which has its own problems to solve: QA methods are different for different models of cars. For example, OSes running on S-class Mercedes and C-class Mercedes are different; however, QNX has to build an operating system that works for ALL cars, in spite of the fragmented QA standards.

Closing Thoughts

As the groups using desktop browsers and cars embrace new formats, corporations and developers will converge to the winning standard and be able to build great products much more easily, without having to conform to a multitude of different sets of rules.

 

Connect with Dwayne on LinkedIn.

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