Crowd-share data bandwidth app secures funding

News

The developer of a new app that overcomes the problems of poor smartphone data connectivity in crowded places has been awarded a grant from the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering.

The digitalStadium app, developed by Dr Ian Wakeman, allows individual smartphone apps to crowd-share data bandwidth by building a network directly between smartphones and using them to distribute information. 

By connecting the users to one another, it creates a delay tolerant network. Dr Wakeman's company Tribehive has been trialling the technology at English football club Brighton and Hove Albion.

Using the app, consumers can talk to one another, get real-time information on games, read stats and league tables and find out travel information. Fans will also be able to take part in Twitter debates and even competitions such as “Rate the Ref”, while a live ticker feed will deliver the latest news, views and special offers from the club during the game.

Dr Wakeman, who has been a lecturer in computer science at the University of Sussex for more than 18 years, told Mobile Europe that the app could solve the bandwidth problem for operators in densely populated events. 

He said: "If you want to know what the latest score is or who scored the last goal then a request is sent out by your phone and passed around the network until it finds someone that has a connection. They then pull down the data and it is passed back to the phone that made the request. It all happens very quickly.”

Dr Wakeman said he is hoping to get a commercial rollout for the product, aiming to make it available to football clubs, events, crisis management and even the defence industry.

Tim Shepherd, Senior Analyst at Canalys, commented: "The Digital Stadium concept is not a full solution, but it is a really innovative work around for a common connectivity problem that strikes at concerts, gigs and sports events – wherever large crowds gather in one place.

He added: "It is not an approach that will work well for ad-hoc gatherings, but makes great sense at regularly scheduled events like sports matches, or even annual events like music festivals, etc, where the time and resource investment required will be truly worthwhile and there is plenty of opportunity to encourage users to download the app ahead of time."