By Matt Tomsic
Published Nov. 29, 2012
Code ninjas whispered to each other and glanced from their smartphones to a large flat-screen TV, monitoring the votes for the Code-A-Thon competition during a defense contractor summit in North Charleston.
“If you have AT&T, and it doesn't work in here, just head to the back of the room,” said Ryan Lemire, one of the Code-A-Thon’s organizers, to the attendees who were trying to vote on their favorite app. “You've got 30 seconds ... And that is time.”
The coders waited in silence for the results screen to refresh.
“The winner is Works on My Box,” Lemire said, and a spattering of applause followed in the coding room and the banquet hall.
The Code-A-Thon was part of the Charleston Defense Contractors Association sixth annual C5ISR Government and Industry Partnerships Summit. Eight teams presented mobile apps built for the warfighter during a 12-hour coding window on Wednesday.
The winning app, Team Locator, displays points of interest based on the user’s current location. Works on My Box from Geocent built the app for the Android operating system. Six of the apps used Android, while the final two used Apple’s iOS.
Team Locator allows the warfighter to view other teams’ — who also run the app — locations on a map; and when the camera is turned on, icons pop up in the direction of the other teams as you pan the phone around. A user can click one of the points and see photos taken by that team or information about the location from the Web.
“We wanted to pick something that would support people that are out there and are in mission critical situations,” said Brian Priest, one of the three Geocent coders who developed Works on My Box.
Priest said they also wanted an app that would allow teams to collect and share information about their locations.
Clarence Davis, another coder on the team, said the first hurdle they faced was the time limit. During the competition, coders could have a grand idea but not the time to execute it. So Geocent focused on getting the essentials in place for its app during the time allotted.
Davis said setting up the GPS posed another hurdle because it doesn’t work as well indoors, where the coding took place. Works on My Box wanted to have tracking for all devices so each team could see the other teams moving.
“We had a great time,” Davis said.
Reach Matt Tomsic at 843-849-3144.