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Arduino Lifter

Testing a Work in Progress Arduino Linear Actuator Controller

It is surprisingly easy to scale up small microcontrollers to manage serious production systems. In this case an Arduino microcontroller capable of handling milliamps is sending signals via a 12 volt H-Bridge to control a 3 amp linear actuator capable of exerting 150Kg of force. The H-Bridge is a standard configuration of power transistors which allows high power systems to be managed by very low power systems. Linear actuators are like big pistons, able to push or pull objects with enormous force, except instead of a pneumatic or steam piston, this push / pull actuator is completely electronic.

The most surprising part of this assembly is the low cost – all the hardware you see in the picture above or the video below costs less than $50.

In this case the actuator will form part of a robotic system push lifting a heavy load. A second H-Bridge and actuator will complete the system, along with sensors to prevent the linear actuator exceeding its design tolerances, all managed by the microcontroller at the heart of the system.

Before you spend 10s of thousands of dollars on a bespoke electro-mechanical system which comes in a fancy box and does not really do what you want, consider contacting Desirable Apps, to see if there is a better way of fulfilling your electro-mechanical, Internet of Things, mobile app, software or hardware requirements.

3D Chess Board

A True 3D AI Web Based Chess Game

In between creating internet of things prototypes, or writing mobile apps, I love to play a good game of chess.

There are plenty of great chess sites out there. But given my interest, I thought – how can I create my own contribution to the great game?

The result was . With Chess-3d you can play the computer just by visiting the website, or if you want to play a friend, ask them to create an account, then challenge them by logging in and clicking their name in the list of opponents.

You can even message your friends while playing.

I would love to hear from you, if you have any suggestions for how I can improve the site. chess-3d is a work in progress, so if it is down or glitches I’m probably working on something – try again later.

The AI is powered by stockfish. I tried writing my own AI, and it worked to an extent – I may use it in a future screen saver. Writing a basic chess AI is surprisingly easy, and an excellent coding exercise if you are interested in AI. But stockfish is the product of 10s of thousands, possibly millions of hours of effort by a large open source team. In the end I decided there is no need to re-invent the wheel.

I would love to hear from you, if you are fellow chess enthusiast. Let me know what you think. Or challenge “Eric” on, if you fancy your skills as a chess player.

Bluetooth Costs

Bluetooth’s Hidden Costs – What Every IoT Developer Should Know

Bluetooth is a marvellous technology. The world is awash with Bluetooth beacons and other devices. Bluetooth unequivocally offers a technically straightforward path to integrating new bespoke IoT products with a variety of other off the shelf devices.

There is just one catch: The licence fee.

From Guided Imports;

Why Bluetooth Is A Bad Idea For Startup Importers

Bluetooth’s directions online are a bit confusing as they are complex and involve multiple steps. I’ve simplified them below.

  1. Register for as an Adopter Membership – Free
  2. Once you’re a Bluetooth member, you must declare each Bluetooth product to ensure it complies with conditions and qualifications. This must be done so you can use the Bluetooth trademark in advertising and packaging
    1. For existing product designs, use the Declare & List section
    2. New product designs first need to be qualified, tested and then listed
  3. If you’re an Adopter Member, the listing fee per Bluetooth chipset is $8,000. This means, if the same Bluetooth component is used in multiple devices you are selling, this only needs to be paid once.
  4. Once all of this is complete, you are allowed to use Bluetooth word mark and logos on your product and advertising.

Bluetooth SIG now offers an Innovation Incentive Program for small and medium sized businesses. To qualify for this, your business must earn less than one million USD in annual revenue. If you qualify, the listing fee is discounted from $8,000 to $2,500. More information about this can be found on Bluetooth’s website, here.

Read more:

If you have a large budget, an $8000+ annual license fee might not be a substantial obstacle. But an unexpected cost of this magnitude can be a substantial kick for startups, especially if you are not expecting it.

What can you do to avoid this surprise cost?

I asked a contact in the manufacturing world their opinion. His advice was, “We try to avoid using bluetooth. Don’t use bluetooth”.

When developing some classes of product, like trackers which depend on communicating with established Bluetooth devices like iBeacons, it is very difficult to avoid using bluetooth. There are also some circumstances, such as when you are developing a mobile app with no bespoke electronics, where the bluetooth fee may have effectively already been paid – though I strongly advise you to talk to a lawyer if you want to take this position.

That $8000 fee could easily become a $16,000 fee, or even a $24,000 fee, if part way through production you find your chosen Bluetooth silicon chipset is unavailable, and have to switch to a new bluetooth chipset. The world is currently experiencing an ongoing global silicon chip shortage.

The bottom line, if there is any viable alternative to Bluetooth, the best course is to do what my manufacturing contact advised, and avoid the use of Bluetooth.

What are the options?

Many IoT technologies, such as ESP32, which support Bluetooth, also support WiFi. WiFi is more complex than Bluetooth, but you are far less likely to be slammed by difficult to manage license fees.

Many innovative WiFi based approaches to circumventing savage Bluetooth license fees have been developed. Techniques which produce a user experience comparable to a Bluetooth based device, without incurring the Bluetooth tax.

If you would like help with minimising the risk of your product becoming entangled with expensive Bluetooth licensing fees, please contact Desirable Apps. We’re happy to share our learnings in depth with aspiring product developers. And of course, we can help you with other aspects of your product development, right up to connecting you with reliable people who can mass produce your new IoT device.

Story City Featured by Startup TNT Investment Summit

$300,000 Startup Finance Interest You? Desirable Apps is proud to congratulate our client Story City for being selected as one of the top five finalists at the TNT Investment Summit II.

From the Startup TNT website;

Startup TNT is a community of entrepreneurs, scientists, investors, innovators and startup supporters that gathers every week to have fun, share stories, and build great companies. Twice a year, we hold a summit to invest in entrepreneurs from our community. 

Join us on Nov. 19, 2020 for a day of fun panels and an evening of real pitches to real investors. We’ll be investing at least $300,000 into two Alberta tech startups.

Read more:

Story City is a Choose Your Own Adventure with a difference. From the Story City website;

Story City makes you the hero of your own story, giving you the chance to take part in an adventure at locations across the world. You can take part in these interactive stories from real-life choose-your-adventures, to puzzle trails, to historic tales across Australia using the Story City App. We’ve also added our first international stories in Brazil and Argentina with more coming every month!

Whether you’re a reader, an adventurer, a traveller, a family, a gamer or maybe even a geocacher, our stories take you to the most interesting locations around the city with adventures created by local creators who know their city best.

The Story City app and adventures are currently FREE to download and enjoy.

Will you explore Brisbane while running from a zombie apocalypse? Or how about cruising the Adelaide streets while solving a mystery? Or will you be pillaging the city looking for pirate supplies? It’s your adventure, so it’s up to you!

Read more:

It is a terrific feeling watching someone we helped achieve such recognition and reward for their effort.

If you would like our help to make your mobile app or software idea a glorious reality, contact Desirable Apps today.

New Image to Video App

The new Image to Video app makes creating slide show videos from a series of still photos as easy as recording a video using your mobile device camera. Pick the photos or images you want to include in your video, drag them into the order you want to present, and start speaking.

The following video is a walkthrough of the image to video app, created using the image to video app.

Image to video is available for free on App Store.

Image to video privacy statement.

What makes a mobile app go viral?

How to boost your mobile app download potential through viral marketing

How to boost your mobile app download potential through viral marketing

Everyone dreams of a little magic – instead of having to pay to promote your new newly developed mobile app, the word simply spreads. People tell their friends. Downloads spike, then keep climbing. Within a week, 100s of thousands, maybe even millions of people have downloaded your mobile app. Your Apple account balance soars – in a few weeks, you will be a millionaire.

What can you do to make this happen? There are two techniques I know of which help drive app promotion, because I have seen them work.

1. Facebook Mobile App Links

The first technique is Facebook App Links. Imagine if a user clicks a message in their Facebook news feed, and Facebook, I mean the Facebook App itself, recommends that a user install YOUR mobile app to view the Facebook message. This is an incredibly powerful technique for driving uptake. People trust that their Facebook mobile app is is on their side. If a trusted source like Facebook says “install another mobile app now”, a lot of users just do what they are told – and install the app.

An example of an app linked (or in this case a deep linked) Facebook App is RubyApp. RubyApp has an iPhone App component and a embedded Facebook web app component. You can use RubyApp to send a Facebook message. If someone clicks a RubyApp Facebook message in their Facebook news feed, Facebook prompts the user to install the iPhone App component.

2. A compelling promotional video

The second technique I have seen work is a compelling mobile app promotional video. One of the most compelling promotional videos I have been involved with is the Invisible Alert mobile app promotion video.

Watch the following:

If you watch the video, you will understand – the video simply demands that if you are a responsible parent, you will ensure your kids have a copy of the Invisible Alert iPhone App, to help keep them safe when you can’t be there.

How to create a viral video

Its one thing to create a compelling mobile app promotion video – how do you make sure people watch it? Creating blockbuster videos is not my field of expertise – I’m a mobile app developer. But the following is one of the best descriptions I have read of how to create a viral video – written by someone who describes exactly what they did to make their video go viral.


Day One: 80K views

First, I posted to Facebook/Twitter, and submitted it to social news sites like Reddit and Hacker News. I personally asked many of my friends to share it. I tweeted it at well-known dancers. I emailed bloggers who had covered other viral dance videos.
Of all the things I tried, Reddit paid off. It got to the top of the GetMotivated subreddit. I did this by following the advice in this article.

Day Two: 800K views

Bloggers who had seen it on Reddit the day before started publishing articles about it. First Kottke. Then blogs like Mashable, Jezebel, and Huffington Post.

Blogs drove a ton of traffic. Each blog is a giant marketing engine with millions of readers and Twitter followers. It’s in their interest to get the article as many views as possible, because each view is an ad they can serve up. Understand how the money flows. It’s all about clicks and advertising dollars.

Day Three: 1.8 million views

It made the YouTube front page. I’m not sure how it got there, but I suspect the blogs were sending it so much traffic that YouTube’s algorithms picked up on it.

Try many things. You only need one of them to pay off in order for your video to go viral. For me, that thing was Reddit. Your thing might be different. Your goal is to get major blogs to write you up, because their marketing power is ridiculous.

Read More…

I hope this helps. If you need a detailed marketing plan, I recommend you talk to a marketing / SEO expert – I can recommend a few names. But I can help with what I know – if you have any questions about the technical aspects of mobile app promotion, the technical intricacies of Facebook app links, or other social media possibilities, please Contact Me.

New Mobile App Developed to detect Epileptic Seizures

Japanese researchers have developed a new mobile app which gives epileptics a few seconds early warning, if they are about to suffer an epileptic seizure.

According to the Brisbane Courier Mail:

JAPANESE researchers have developed a system for smartphones to alert epileptics at least 30 seconds before a seizure.

IT’S hoped the app would help patients take precautions in the nick of time and avoid injuries.

A team from Kyoto University which developed the system is collaborating with Kumamoto University and Tokyo Medical and Dental University to get the device commercially produced by 2020, the Nikkei financial publication reported on Thursday.

The innovation uses a small sensor placed close to the collar bone or heart to detect changes in heartbeat.

Just before an epileptic attack, changes in nerve cell activity affect the autonomic nerves that control the heart.

The system detects these through the sensor and wirelessly transmits the signals to the smartphone, which uses a special application to analyse them.
To determine if the heartbeats are abnormal, the system first creates a baseline profile by taking measurements under normal conditions.
When the heartbeat deviates, the system alerts the user through a sound or a vibration.

Read more…

I know people who have epilepsy, and have witnessed several epileptic seizures. When the seizure strikes people have very little warning – they generally fall uncontrollably to the ground, which creates a very real risk of head injury or other serious injury as their body strikes the pavement or other hard surfaces.

A mobile app which gives people in this unfortunate predicament a few moments warning, so they can lay down, or pull over if they are driving, would be of immeasurable benefit to epilepsy sufferers.

Android Apps and iPhone Apps which provide medical functionality are generally very popular on App Store, if they offer real value to users. For example, some heart rate monitor apps, which use the mobile phone’s microphone to pick up someone’s heart beat, have received millions of downloads. However, before tackling a medical app you should ensure you have someone with appropriate medical expertise on your team – a medical app which provided inexpert information could be worse than useless, it might endanger people’s lives.

If you are a qualified medical practitioner, and have an idea for a new medical app, please contact me.

Microsoft: Red Hot Mobile App Developers

Microsoft - Down but not out in the Mobile App Development Space

Microsoft – Down but not out in the Mobile App Development Space

Even if Microsoft never secures meaningful market share for its windows mobile phone, it looks like they have a plan “B” for making their mark in the mobile world – developing Microsoft branded iPhone Apps and Android Apps.

According to BGR:

This past fall, Microsoft also [in addition to Microsoft Office Mobile for Android and iPhone] released three hugely promising Android apps: Torque, an Android Wear app that takes away the added step of having to say, “OK Google…” before you give your watch a voice command or ask it a question; Next Lock Screen, which adds more useful information and application shortcuts to your lock screen; and the Journeys & Notes app that lets you take location-based notes of places you’re visiting that can be shared with other people who visit that specific location in the future.

Microsoft really started to embrace mobile app development when it released mobile versions of its popular Office productivity suite and it hasn’t looked back since. And it’s not just that Microsoft is making good apps of its own but that it’s wisely decided to offer more integration with established apps that are already popular, such as its decision to integrate cloud storage service Dropbox with its own Office software instead of forcing users to only use the company’s own OneDrive.

The question of course – does Microsoft intend to abandon their frustrating effort to become a dominant mobile handset operating system, and focus instead on developing popular mobile apps? Is this a strategy to convince people that Microsoft know what they are doing in the mobile space – in the hope that people will consider Windows Mobile next time they upgrade their phone? Or perhaps Microsoft themselves haven’t decided what they want – maybe they’re just covering all their bets, pending further developments?

What is clear is that Microsoft have not given up on the mobile app space – and given their track record of dominating markets, they may yet surprise the market.

If you would like to discuss strategies for mobile app deployment – which platform you should target first, whether you should release multi-platform or one platform at a time, please Contact Me.

Mulesoft: New Anypoint Mobile App Development Release

Mulesoft Anypoint helps mobile apps  to communicate

Mulesoft Anypoint helps mobile apps to communicate

Mulesoft has released a new version of their Anypoint software. Anypoint facilitates mobile app development by helping developers create apps which connect and interact with other popular systems, such as Salesforce, ServiceNow, SAP, Siebel and many other popular enterprise platforms and services.

As the Press Release indicates, the importance of connectivity is often underrated during mobile app design and development.

Today, consumers demand seamless interactions with the companies they do business with, regardless of the channel, device or location. Mobile and data-driven initiatives represent a potential opportunity to create new sources of competitive advantage; however, IT professionals and businesses are challenged to integrate fragmented legacy, cloud and mobile endpoints to create that advantage, even as the volume and potential value driven by those connections continue to grow exponentially. Anypoint Platform provides a unified platform for connectivity that ensures security and adherence to best practice, while enabling rapid creation of new applications, including mobile, to meet new business demands.

According to Gartner, “Integration is an often-underestimated aspect of mobile application development projects. A notable portion of an overall mobile app project cost — as much as 70% in some cases — can be attributed to integrating the mobile app with established enterprise applications, services and data sources, whether on-premises or in the cloud.”

Business users regularly shift data between different software packages and mobile apps, and different platforms – iPhone App platform, Android App Platform, whatever is convenient. For example, if you are working on a presentation you might want to import graphs from your spreadsheet package, or create a summary using your accounting package, and include the results in your presentation. Conversely, if you are searching for a document, you might want the contents of your presentations and other documents to be available to your search utility.

If you want your business mobile app to attract interest from industry, one of the first questions you have to answer is – how do I get the data out of your app into package X? How do I import data into your app? Anything you can do to integrate your new business app with packages which are familiar to your target audience increases the acceptability of your new business mobile app – increases the chance that your target audience will see your app as an essential component of their software infrastructure.

Even games apps can benefit from interaction. In a lot of ways games are behind the curve when it comes to interaction – there’s growing recognition of the value of interacting with social media, such as Facebook, but the interaction has to date been in many ways quite shallow. Up until now games developers have been fiercely independent, and have attempted to build loyalty to their proprietary offering by keeping it proprietary and separate from other game universes.

But just imagine you could create a favourite character in say World of Warcraft, and import that character into the Lord of the Rings universe, or into say Second Life? How cool would that convergence be?

If you would like to learn more about the options for connecting your business iPhone App or business Android App to other systems, please Contact Me

Master of Mobile Applications Development

Master of App Development - An Exciting Career Option

Master of Mobile App Development – An Exciting Career Option

Interested in learning how to develop iPhone Apps and develop Android Apps?

Charles Sturt University has announced they are now offering a Master of Mobile Applications Development course, for people who are interested in a University level course teaching them everything they need to develop their own mobile apps.

According to the Press Release;

To meet surging demand for mobile applications developers Charles Sturt University has worked with industry to create the Master of Applications Development, a course devoted to the design and maintenance of mobile apps for the Apple IOS, Google Android and Microsoft platforms.

Since the introduction of the first iPhone in 2007 employment in the app development industry has increased rapidly: 9.4 percent of all IT jobs in Australia now relate to the development, maintenance or support of mobile platforms and this figure is expected to grow. A recent report by the Department of Employment predicted up to 50,000 new job openings for software and apps programmers over the next five years.

Students taking Charles Sturt’s Master of Applications Development course will learn how to use sophisticated development frameworks such as Xamarin, PhoneGap and Unity to build cross-platform mobile apps that fill a need in the market. They will also have the opportunity to create a mobile app that they can commercialise.

The new university course will offer the following subjects:

Core subjects

  • TC506 Topics in IT Ethics
  • ITC518 Principles of Programming using C#*
  • ITC539 Mobile Application Development PG
  • ITC571 Emerging Technologies and Innovation**
  • ITE508 Developing Web Applications
  • ITE528 Cross Platform App Development
  • ITE529 Cross Platform Game Development
  • MGI521 Professional Communications

Restricted Electives (Choose 4)

  • ITC504 Interface Useability
  • ITC508 Object Modelling
  • ITC561 Cloud Computing
  • ITE510 SharePoint Application Development
  • ITE517 Developing Applications for Windows Phone and Mobile Devices
  • ITE518 Agile Project Management
  • ITE523 Virtualization
  • MKT501 Marketing Management

What does this mean for the Mobile App Industry?

To me this is an exciting development. Most mobile app developers are self taught – they just picked up a book on iPhone App Development or Android App Development and started working through it. The fact there is sufficient demand that a major Australian university has decided to offer a specific course shows that the Mobile App Revolution has not even begun to fulfil its full potential. The opportunities are growing – and as with every business growth story, the advantage goes to people who move first, who stay ahead of the herd.

The other interesting feature of the course appears to be a heavy emphasis on Microsoft C# programming language. Although Microsoft has struggled to make inroads into the mobile market, which is currently dominated by Apple iPhone and Google Android, Microsoft are still very much in the game. Microsoft Corporation has a cash mountain, 10s of billions of dollars, available for investment. My guess is they are using some of that cash to encourage the deployment of Microsoft centric mobile app development courses, in the hope of stimulating interest in the Microsoft mobile platform.

If you would like to know more about mobile app development, or perhaps you are attending a mobile app course, and would like some mobile app course tuition, Contact me now.