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Nokia Announces Contest for Social Innovation
Sarah Kuck, 23 Sep 08

cell%20phone.jpg Having a personal computer the size of your hand is something that, in a relatively short period of time, went from being seemingly impossible to practically ubiquitous. In fact, many of us can barely imagine leaving the house without one. These tiny personal pieces of technology allow to send messages and images anywhere -- from across the table to across the globe, connecting us to each other and the world.

Exploring the extent to which this technology could benefit society as a whole is mobile company giant Nokia. Yesterday, Nokia announced its contest, Calling All Innovators, encouraging developers to design applications that could help better society.

“Calling All Innovators is not just about making mobile applications that could help society; it’s about developing mobile applications that will help society,” Tom Libretto, Vice President of Forum Nokia said. “Imagine if an application could help relief workers reallocate resources in real time for disaster-torn areas — how much could that help both those in need as well as the relief workers in the area?”

Developers wishing to enter the contest have until Dec. 15 to submit their ideas within three categories:

• ECO-Challenge: Make a difference by submitting an application that will work to minimize mobility’s global environmental impact and develop ways to offer mobile solutions that help consumers make sustainable choices such as reducing their energy consumption or carbon footprint.

• Emerging Markets: This category opens up new opportunities for developers to imagine the possibilities of pioneering applications and services impacting the daily lives of millions in developing nations, which could include solutions for education, health data access, infotainment, rural agriculture, or any other application that improves lives in emerging markets.

• Technology Showcase: This is an opportunity to create and showcase compelling, experience driven applications, using any technology that runs on Series 40 or S60 devices, such as Flash Lite, Java, Python, or open source. From a single-purpose application to completely community driven, this developer’s showdown will help open consumers' minds about what an application can do.

Winners will be notified in January 2009. Their reward (which, of course, will include cash and fabulous prizes) will be to see their design distributed throughout the world. And even though I know little about how to design mobile phone applications, the possibilities here seem endless and putting technology and information in the hands of those who need it most is entirely fascinating. I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

Photo credit: Flickr/blueoneiam, Creative Commons license.

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