ERW Challenge Winners: Interview With Philipp Bruess-Schneeweis Developer With Channel 16.me

Q:  Please introduce the main features/characteristics of your application.

A: The main feature of Channel16.me LMR is to report ERW findings to a centralized database by exact location and text messages, voice messages or photos. Reporting by voice or photo makes the useful for illiterate people. Additionally people in the surroundings using Channel16.me LMR will be warned if someone reports a finding.   Channel16.me LMR (Land mine reporting) is a Channel16.me “Modification” for landmine and explosive remnants of war reporting.   Channel16.me is a location-based messenger app that can be used to broadcast voice messages, text messages, or photos to your surroundings.   The Mod Channel16.me LMR has been enhanced to report land mine findings to a centralized server.   Future features of Channel16.me LMR will be Offline saving and reporting, reporting to a real ERW database; Wifi-Direct support, and clients for various mobile and wearable devices. Also an SMS client needs to be developed. We’re looking forward to work together with the CTNSP and the international developer community to bring this app to the areas where it is actually needed – where land mines and remnants of war are a threat to everyones safety.

Q:  What was the motive behind the development of this application? Be specific. Ie) Was there a significant moment or story that made you want to develop this type of app?  

A: Originally I had the vision to develop an app to broadcast instant messages to one’s surroundings.   Then it occurred to me, that this functionality is actually very similar to a Walkie-Talkie, as a Walkie-Talkie broadcasts voice messages to people in the vicinity.   When I read a book about sailing, I read about channel 16, which is the calling channel on the marine broadband. I.e. if two sailors meet on the open ocean, both know that they need to turn on channel 16 on their radio, in case the other ship wants to establish contact. So my colleagues and I agreed to name the app “Channel16.me”, “me” standing for “messenger” or “me”, as it is my personal messenger.   In addition to voice, Channel16.me allows people to broadcast text messages and photos as well, and provides a map view of people in the area. If you think about the many smartphone, wearable device or Google Glass possibilities that can be added to a Walkie-Talkie-like application, like Augmented Reality, Channel16.me is a Walkie-Talkie “on steroids”.

Q: Why did your team compete in the Explosive Remnants of War and Land Mine Reporting Apps Challenge?

 A: I read about the Explosive Remnants of War reporting Challenge on Challenge Post, and when I read about the details, I noticed that Channel16.me has many useful features for land mine reporting already built in. One of our visions is that Channel16.me has an API, such that third party developers can create their own location-based messaging apps. There are plenty of use cases we are thinking of, however, we did not think of “Land-Mine reporting” before we saw this contest. When I read about this contest, I immediately noticed the benefits that location-based messaging would bring to land mine reporting – first the communication part: people looking for land mines can communicate through Channel16.me as they are searching for the land mines, and see each other’s location as well. Second, they can report findings by text, voice or photo messages. This is a great benefit for illiterate people, as many countries who experienced war have a high illiteracy rate, they can take a photo or report by voice. Third, the location-based messaging part: not only is the centralized server “informed”, but also all other Channel16.me users nearby are warned, if an explosive item has been detected. In short, Channel16.me LMR is a great example of a Channel16.me API mod.   Interested developers: Please send us an email at info[at]channel16.me, and we’ll supply you with sample code and an API key.

Q:  Could you tell us about any of you (or your company’s) achievements that you want to share with the STAR-TIDES community?

A: So far we are 3 developers (two from Austria and one from Japan). Our vision is to enable location-based messaging on many different devices. Our achievement so far, is that we developed a Channel16.me web version, an Android version, an iOS version (to be launched in October), a version for the Pebble smartwatch and Samsung Gear. We also developed a fully functioning server infrastructure and a developer API that seamlessly interacts with all clients.   The Channel16.me LMR mod already accesses this API (Application Programming Interface). In addition, we secured a startup support fund from the Austrian Wirtschaftsservice.

Q: What are your long-term plans for the application?  

A: The long-term plan of this application is to have software clients for any mobile or wearable platform available and that Channel16.me is used for many different use cases by the development community. There will be sample clients for any imaginable platform, from desktop systems, to mobile to wearable devices. Just like a fully functioning version of Channel16.me LMR will be used in many countries and on many devices, there will be other apps, like an app to interconnect volunteer workers, firefighters, rescue workers, hotels, shops and more. Channel16.me enables anyone to broadcast a message out to other people nearby. It is a completely new way to communicate. If you want to know the menu of the restaurant down the street, in future, restaurants will broadcast their menus before lunch time. Hotels can broadcast the availability of their rooms, bakeries will broadcast “All bread 50% off” 30min before closing time. Reaching consumers in the immediate neighborhood is key to location-based advertising. But it’s not just advertising, it is supposed to be useful information for anyone nearby.

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About startides

TIDES Research Assistant Intern
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