External developer teams plunge into mission-critical communications
Airbus hosted the Critical App Challenge in Munich this February to fuel up the ecosystem around their new Tactilon Dabat device. Eight teams with diverse expertise were invited to participate and, by collaborating with mentors from Airbus, to showcase what kinds of useful, secure and engaging applications they can develop for the Android smartphone with PMR/TETRA radio.
The work to organise the Critical App Challenge started by defining the challenge goal together with Airbus. While diving deep into corporations’ strategy and challenges is considered business as usual at Industryhack, this time the target was specified as something quite unique: to upgrade the mission-critical communications of police officers, firefighters, doctors, and other life-saving and society-building professionals.
The participating teams were chosen from a number of motivated applications as — not surprisingly — the opportunity to cooperate with Airbus professionals attracted many potential teams with various backgrounds. In addition to technical resources, each team was assigned a mentor from Airbus to add business insight, company knowledge, connections, and support to the collaboration. While the mentors gained exquisite experience on agile work with developers and designers, the teams learned about the critical communications industry and its potential customers like airports, oil producers and secret police services.
After three weeks of working, all participants traveled to Munich for the co-development camp to build their concept demos, spar with each other, and finally present their applications for the Airbus jury. The presentations are for sure the most thrilling part of these projects, as all the work on plans, iterations and remakes culminates into a short moment in the limelight. However, the pressure is not on only for the participating teams, but also for the jury members: this time they had the demanding task of choosing the three teams that would join Airbus at the Critical Communications World in May to present their applications and solutions for the wider audience.
In Munich we saw concepts that cleverly utilised speech recognition, precise location services, and biometrics — just to name a few. After some thoughtful negotiations, the jury announced the teams to join Airbus at CCW 2018 (in alphabetical order): The Life Savers from Intelligence on Wheels, Tactical AI from Digia, and Team Steerpath from Steerpath. While all teams’ performance met expectations and resulted in further negotiations with Airbus, these three convinced the decision makers with promising innovative ideas that combined their own expertise and their mentors’ support.
So, after an intensive dip into the critical communications business, the first Critical App Challenge is getting close to a wrap-up. The work, however, doesn’t stop here but has only been started; we’ll be eagerly waiting to see the upcoming results of open innovation between the teams and Airbus.