Recap from Uplinq (Part 1: Tech)

Durning this past week, MMM was proud to be invited to be a part of the the WIP Unpanel which was one of many discussions and demonstrations occuring at the Uplinq conference. Uplinq used to be a developer-centric, and pretty much Brew (a mobile operating system platform similar to Android or Symbian)-only affair. This year opened up things to a slightly wider audience, and focused how Brew integrates into the rest of what’s happening in mobile.

As with most events, Uplinq began with a keynote address by Qualcomm’s CEO. One of the better keynotes that I’ve attended in recent years, this keynote brought a good bit of clarity as to why MMM would be a nice attendee.

Off the bat, an initial demonstration of augmented reality (AR) technologies with a Rock-em-Sock-em Robots demo was great. Another AR demo, using the behavior of networked games over multiple device platforms also tickled the imagination. Beyond these, an opening of the discussions towards improved developer tools, and developer relations gave Uplinq a nice step forward.

There were a few pieces to Uplinq, designed to keep the conference attendee busy, yet always learning. The Mobile Innovations Showcase was the “normal” conference affair with booth demonstrations, and chances for random networking. There were breakout and super-breakout sessions (the WIP Unpanel was the latter) designed to focus attention around specific topics, and then drive more immediate feedback. And finally there were various groups doing interviews and other networking-type tasks all around (and in more hidden spaces), carrying on the business of making things happen before the holiday break.

Of note, I was interviewed by Mobile Indistry Review, to talk about MMM around the context of mobile and how this perspective is relevant at an event like Uplinq. Stay tuned for that interview to be posted here.

From a devices perspective, there were the usual assorment of BlackBerries and iPhones – a higher number of iPhone 4 devices than I would have expected. There were several of us who had iPad devices – with a lot of the conversation between users about why workshop session surveys weren’t digital or that Wi-Fi performance could be spotty in places. I took a special ream for carrying (and using) my Nokia N97 and X6 devices, though I also had Nokia’s newly released E73 Mode (on T-Mobile USA, similar to the E72 everywhere else) for moments when I felt that I should be similar to the crowd.

Some of the mobile tech demnostrated included mobile chipsets where devices could have faster than 1GHz processors, or screens that looked as clear as the Kindle’s eInk screen, but perfromed more likethe LCD screens we are familar with (Mirasol was that company). Companies such as HTC were on hand to demo their device lineups, and there was also some healthly representation by Sprint, At&T, and Verizon. On the first night, I had a great conversation with one of those carriers’ engineers; there is definitley some amazing stuff coming, and more amazing stuff that never makes it out of the labs.

I spoke earlier of some of the tech issues, I had one of my own happen – being that I carry very few business cards, and those I do simply have a QR code on them with the MMM name and URL, I had not expected a situation where the data connected to the QR code wouldn’t work. Which is what happened during the day 2 keynote in chatting with a high ranking company executive. I’m back to using a mobile web server on my mobile device, and there is a URL connected to one of the pages which turns it into a downloadable address entry. Well, it didn’t work, and I lost an opportunity to demonstrate some of the AR tech in practice, as well as make a good connection. Hopefully, I’ll get a second chance on that impression (things seem to be working now).

Overall, the technology landscape at Uplinq was nothing abnormal, but definitely something to take in. While the conference had its share of developer-minded folks, it was not uncommon for the conversations to move from technology and tools to that of strategy and purpose. Everyone wants to feel that their contribution in mobile can or does make a difference in improving the lives of people around them. With Uplinq, Qualcomm was able to demonstrate to developers that there’s another profitable platform out there, with several hundred million users that’s ripe for the taking. Its just about spotting the need and then making the technology that’s most relevant.

Which brings us back to why MMM was there from a technology standpoint. At the intersection of faith and technology, there’s technology. There’s an assessment of tools, resources, and influence, and then the strategy that is built around these to make it possible to share the story of the Christian faith. Yes, the technologies do change (sometimes quickly), but strategy and meaning are pretty consistent. For those in this arena who are looking for not just a means to apply their passions and gifts to mobile, but do it in a way that speaks well to your eternal focus, then shaping a strategy around platforms such as Brew makes sense. Beyond that, getting your foot into the mobile space beyond smartphones is healthy, and the kind of challenging that will transform how you see and do well unto all.

So yes, it was a conference with a techie bent; but one where if you looked at the tech with the right lens, you’d see opportunity to do more than just build another app. Grab the moment, and bless God with that gift.

Update: also check out the recap from the WIP Connector blog.

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