The Intel Ultimate Code: Ultrabook challenge[^] is an interesting experiment. On the surface it’s a coding challenge: Six developers compete for six weeks to create apps that take full advantage of the performance advances, graphic excellence, touch and sensor technologies of the latest Ultrabook computers. Scratch a little deeper and you realise that this is a 1 part coding and 5 parts hair-tearing game of strategy combined with your worst mid-term practical, ever.
Six Developers (well, eight actually - you can see the rules are already being tested at this early stage) get 6 weeks to develop the ultimate app for the Ultrabook that makes use of Windows 8, touchscreen capabilities, sensors such as gyroscope, GPS and NFC (to name a few), and the raw power of a 3rd gen Ivy Bridge i7 CPU.
For the next 6 weeks I'll be posting updates on the progress of the challengers. These are seasoned developers. They have been around the block and have a full shed of tools and tricks at their disposal. They are not to be trifled with. I am expecting, and maybe hoping, the veneer of gentile competitiveness to fall away quickly and settle down to a nice exciting game of psych.
Lee[^], for example already has an app-in-a-box application that will enable him to write his apps in Basic and target 7 different platforms. He’s using Basic. To write the ultimate app on the ultimate notebook in front of millions of developers. You can see the sorts of mind games that have already started.
George and Suresh[^] have reportedly tried out over 30 designs concepts and more than 200 assets to arrive at their final design. In less than 3 days. They also already have mockups of their final app and will be building on an existing app. In this day and age merely changing the font is enough to warrant a major release, so I’m going to be watching these guys closely. And it should be noted that any use of Comic Sans in an application leads to immediate disqualification.
Shailesh[^] from clemsoftware will be creating an Ultrabook tuned version of their BioIQ picture puzzle game. Basically: label the parts of the organisms and you win. I’m guessing touch will be a large part of the ultrabookification of this app, but what I’d really like to see is something far more immersive such as a modern day version of the children's “Doctor” game. Either through touch, or by tilting and moving the entire ultrabook you control a surgeon's knife and perform something simple like a coronary bypass. I breezed over the specs of the ultrabooks sent to the devs, but I’m sure there’s something that would add a little je ne sais quoi to it all. An electrified touchpad or the NFC chip wiping your credit cards in a “simulated” malpractice suit would add a little spice, no?
John[^] and Gavin from Soma games (I think this makes it 8+ devs, right?) are creating an app called wind up football that takes advantage of the touchscreen and accelerometer. I will be satisfied with nothing less than an app that requires you to actually kick the Ultrabook in the same way virtual golf courses have you hit a golf ball into a sheet. The touch screen can measure the location and, potentially, vector of your foot, the accelerometer can then calculate the projected path, and the gyroscope would be used to measure rotation. Their challenge will be accurately simulating the aerodynamics of a flying, spinning Ultrabook, but I assume that’s why they also mentioned the new CPUs as being integral to their app. Nice one, boys. I’m definitely looking forward to this one.
Sagar[^] and his crew made much mention of the trials of actually getting their hands on their Ultrabook, which is actually a step further than us judges have managed to get because we’re evidently embargoed from getting our greasy, cynical paws on the shiny new ‘books until the challengers have completed their penultimate post. Sagar did mention in passing that the judges pics were way cooler than the challenger’s pics so he gets 2 points this week. However, I do need to subtract 2 points for dropping the “e” in his product’s name. Ever since auto-correct was invented spelling has gone to hell in a hand-bascet.