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‚Mobiraba’ wins silver in Barcelona

‚Mobiraba’ wins silver in Barcelona. Three post graduate students from Wits University who developed ‚Mobiraba’, a cellphone version of the popular Morabaraba board game, last night won silver in the SIMagine 2007 awards at the 3GSM Conference currently being held in Barcelona, Spain.

Professor Barry Dwolatzky, Academic Director at the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE), says David Vannucci, Rolan Christian and Teddy Mwakabaga, receive €12 000 (around R113 000) for being placed second in the competition, which aims to stimulate the development of Java-based SIM applications around the world.

The three are all Wits students, currently completing their PhDs on topics around convergence, Dwolatzky says.

‚Vannucci, Christian and Mwakabaga developed the game in the Wits Convergence lab which is one of the JCSE’s laboratories. Mobiraba is a Java SIM based application and was developed with a SIM tool kit provided by Gemalto as part of the competition.

‚With Mobiraba, players are able to log on to a gaming server via GPRS (general packet radio service) and compete against each other. The online server maintains the results of all the players, as well as rankings, and a record of each game,‚ he says.

Trialled at national Morabaraba championship:

Colin Webster, President of Mind Sports SA (MSSA), says Morabaraba is the most popular game in South Africa with around 20 million players. Through MSSA, Morabaraba players are able to receive their Protea colours.

‚The game is also played across Africa and in some European countries. The game dates back thousands of years. In fact, there is a Morabaraba board in the Great Pyramid of Khufu in Egypt. Of the 10 previous world champions, seven have been from South Africa,‚ he says.

Mobiraba was used at the national Morabaraba trials in Pietermaritzburg in December in place of Morabaraba boards with the handsets having been supplied by Vodacom. Simphiwe Maphumulo, the 2003 Morabaraba world champion played Mobiraba and thoroughly enjoyed it, Webster says.

‚It is our hope that Mobiraba will be used in the development of the game in South Africa, not only to enable more people to compete in the game, but also to raise the standard of Morabaraba in South Africa through the recording and ranking of players and their highest scores,‚ Webster says. ‚Mobiraba also has the potential to utilised in a world championship context allowing players from different countries to compete against each other from their cellphones.‚

More on SIMagine:

The SIMagine competition aims to stimulate the development of Java-based SIM applications. The competition is a partnership between Gemalto, Samsung and Sun Microsystems and is sponsored by the likes of Maxis, Telcel, Telefonica, Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM).

There were a total of 315 entrants into SIMagine 2007 of which 53 projects were short listed from 17 different countries. Of the 53 projects, 15 were from South Africa. The short listed teams were then given Java SIM tool kits and training to developer their applications. From the 53 projects, eight finalists were selected, one of which was Mobiraba.

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