For Gee-whiz Mobile Apps, Go to the Whiz Kids

The development of mobile technology, content, and services is booming these days. To tap into the large base of talent and ideas, corporations and creative agencies are teaming up with universities. The buddy system offers businesses insight into youthful creativity, while students get invaluable real-world experience.

"As an agency, we have a dual role of getting results for clients today, and staying ahead of the curve so we can bring new ideas, trends, and marketing opportunities to our clients," says Michael Koziol, executive vice president, North America, Nurun/Ant Farm Interactive. "That way we can all be ready for the future when it happens."

The partnership with Georgia Tech's Mobile Technologies Group (MTG) began a year ago, following some informal collaboration. "There's a different type of creativity and a different type of free thinking," Koziol says. "They're sitting back and thinking, 'What's next, and what's it gonna look like when it happens?' "

In addition to the photo-sharing application iheartart, the Nurun/student partnership produced two other speculative mobile apps. Shark! is a remote-controlled game not unlike Summer Bedard's Sharkbites; the team's camera phone code-scanner would let mobile phone users capture a "shot code" and then retrieve information about a product, place, or service.

One issue with public/private partnerships involves rights to the intellectual property created, but Koziol says this was easily worked out with Georgia Tech. Everything was built on open source software, so both entities own the rights to it, and both are free to develop and exploit the applications.

According to Koziol, the benefits of the partnership with Nurun extend far beyond the applications. "We gain a competitive advantage in the future by tapping into the people being trained to build the future," he says.


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