Potential “tech-preneurs” who come up with technology solutions to everyday Jozi problems stand the chance of turning their digital ideas into viable business opportunities at this year’s #Hack.Jozi Challenge.
All they have to do is enter the #Hack.Jozi Challenge before entries close on Friday, 25 March 2016. The #Hack.Jozi Challenge is a boot camp for startup entrepreneurs and aims to contribute towards fostering skills, innovation and entrepreneurship in the digital technology space.
Ravi Naidoo, Executive Director for Economic Development for the City of Johannesburg, says that there are some excellent entries which have been received so far, but he would like to see many more. “We are calling on people who live, work and play in the City of Joburg and who have an idea about how technology can be used to make a difference in our city to enter.
“It is the technologically-savvy young citizens of this wonderful and complex city that we live in that are likely to be closest to the real kinds of issues and challenges that people face. They may well have a winning idea that the #Hack.Jozi Challenge will help them take forward into a money-making enterprise. No idea is too big or too small.”
To enter, visit www.hackjozichallenge.co.za and complete the entry form. Entries should address challenges in the following categories: public spaces/tourism; smart infrastructure, economic development and general.
Three entrants will walk away with a total of R1.7 million: R1 million for the overall winner of the 2016 #Hack.Jozi Challenge and R350,000 each for the two runners-up. They will be each be supported by a business mentor around how best to use the prize money and accelerate their idea into a successful enterprise.
The top 20 selected entrants will receive additional business mentorship. The top 10 will win a one-year free membership of the well-known ICT Hub in Braamfontein, which is a Wits University initiative under the leadership of Professor Barry Dwolatzky.
The top one hundred entrants as start-up entrepreneurs will attend a special entrepreneurship and business training boot camp geared to helping them develop their great digital ideas into possible business opportunities.
#Hack.Jozi Challenge is a project of the City of Johannesburg and the JCSE (Joburg Centre for Software Engineering) at Wits University. Its success in its launch year in 2015 saw the City of Johannesburg commit R5 million for the second #Hack.Jozi Challenge this year.
“This competition is designed to accelerate early stage ICT startups. It supports capacity development, job creation and enterprise development in our City,” says Naidoo.
“But let us remember that it is about real people and real challenges – as well as about boosting entrepreneurship in the broad area of digital technology and promoting much-needed local economic development,” says Naidoo.
Applicants can be individuals or teams, one of whom must live in the Johannesburg area. Government employees are not eligible.
The deadline for submissions is Friday, 25 March 2016. A committee will select the winners. The winners will be selected after two elimination rounds. The city will not take any equity in any of the businesses.
Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart
Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.
As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page
KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching.
The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter.
The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style.
The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button.
The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on.
In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode.
Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.
Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.
Find them on Kickstarter here.
Taxify enters Google Maps
A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.
People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.
Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.
Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.
If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.
This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.
“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.
Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.