Cambridge students take on London's Tech City with innovative apps
Right now, the UK is going through a bit of a tech renaissance. Innovation is pouring out the doors of trendy offices in Old Street, and the digital roundabout has become a hub for small startups and designers.
But London isn't the only place that cutting edge technology can be found. That classic British institute for education, Cambridge University, is now churning out tech startups - a fact that has piqued Pocket-lint's interest. So much so that we decided to head down to St John's Innovation Centre at the university in order to take a peek at what the students were up to. Apps were order of the day. But not just any apps, these were Cambridge University-quality apps. At least one person involved in each startup was a Cambridge graduate.
The first application that really grabbed our attention is called Fonleap, a very clever take on the likes of LogMeIn. Using, what we imagine is, an incredibly clever set of code, the app can crush down an entire operating system, personal files and all, save it onto your phone and then let you push it back out to any computer via a virtual machine.
The real clever thing about Fonleap, and what separates it from the competition, is its ability to transport everything unique to you via your phone. Lets say you have a Windows 7 system sitting at home full of applications and all sorts of media and documents, Fonleap can crush that all down and stick it on your handset.
You can then read and manipulate these documents using the app's UI on your tablet or smartphone. Whatever changes you make will exist on the operating system, which can then be pushed out to another computer - say, at work. It means literally taking a clone of your home computer with you wherever you go. Even better, unlike LogMeIn, there is no lag, as the app uses your computer's power. Fonleap hasn't yet made its way into the app store, but it is coming very soon and will be free for the first 5GB of OS used.
Next up is Zappar, an augmented reality app that relies on in-house design to bring highly customisable and unique AR tech to things like magazines and posters. We covered Zappar back at the launch of the Green Lantern, when it had helped with the movie's advertising campaign.
It felt good to catch up with a startup which since then had grown dramatically. It was showing off its new Zapparell, clever augmented reality clothing which, when using the app, came to life on your smartphone screen. The real standout point for us with Zappar is how well the augmented reality designs look. Unlike the usual video or pop out pictures, you get huge and complex animations that are a joy to watch.
The last really exciting app which Pocket-lint came across is called Handy Elephant. Whilst in, what looked like, early stages of development during our play, it is in fact live in the Android Market already. So those who want to give it a go can download it now.
Handy Elephant works a bit like a personal organiser, letting you know who you have emailed, called and sent text messages to. It also works the opposite way, showing when and who called you. The result is a set of intelligent contacts which display ideal calling times and, if you use the web app, if they have replied to your emails or not.
Plans are also in place to incorporate things like Facebook and Twitter, as well as LinkedIn into each individual contact. The end product will be a very complete and intelligent contact book that should, in theory, prove extremely useful to people that make a lot of phone calls, sales people and the like.
So, three apps and a stack of innovation. London, it seems, is not the only Tech City to watch.