Thinking Tech

Stanford team wins Cable Show App Challenge

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Stanford students beat out four other university teams with an app giving users control over bandwidth prioritization on home broadband networks.

The 2012 Cable Show hosted in Boston this week had the usual line-up of industry executives, but thanks to the Imagine App Challenge – a hackathon-style developer competition – it also had student representatives from five universities all working to create the next great broadband app. Two students from Stanford University took home the $10,000 grand prize. The Stanford team developed an app in 48 hours called “My Home” that lets users decide how to prioritize Internet traffic on their home networks.

With numerous demands on bandwidth in the home, Internet subscribers today have little control over how one application eats up broadband capacity versus another. The goal of the “My Home” app is to flip the situation and give users the ability to define which applications should get the best throughput at any given time. For example, a streaming video or music application could be prioritized for improved performance over a non-urgent file download.

The cable trade publication Multichannel News quotes Stanford winner Yiannis Yiakoumis as saying:

ISPs provide best-effort traffic delivery today… This shows as long as you give the user the control over prioritizing traffic… there are ways [for operators] to make money out of it by exploiting infrastructure better.

The Stanford team beat out competitors from Pace, Wellesley, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Rutgers. Second place and $4,000 went to the MIT team for “Roar,” an app designed to create a social experience out of live sports event viewing on the TV. Third place and $2,000 went to the team from Wellesley with its “WorkOut Buddy” app for encouraging users to work out together and inspire each other with music and video recommendations.

Mari Silbey

Contributing Editor

Mari Silbey is an independent tech writer based in Washington, D.C. With a background in cable and telecom, she's a contributor to several trade publications, and part of the GigaOM analyst network. She also writes for the long-running digital media blog Zatz Not Funny, and has written for both corporate and association clients focused on broadband networks, mobile apps, and video delivery. She's a graduate of Duke University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure