Developers Cubed: Bridging Gaps Between The Web And The World

Gizmodo's Developers Cubed series offers a behind the scenes look into Australia’s up and coming dev scene. This week: We chat with Stephen von Takach from Advanced Control And Acoustics about bridging the gap between the web and the world, and why working for yourself is tough.

Developers! Developers! Developers! It's not just Steve Ballmer’s favourite sweat-laden catchcry! If you'd like to be featured in Developers Cubed, shoot a note to alex.kidman at alluremedia.com.au. I'd love to hear from you.

Who are you and where do you work? We are fledging start-up in the heart of Surry Hills with an aim to bridge the gap between the web and the physical world

Why do we know you? What have you created? You would probably know our products if you watch the news or go to one of the universities or schools we've sold to. Our core products are Digital Signage and Building Automation.

Where traditionally digital signage is a platform for pushing media to large format displays (think shop windows, airport lounges and bus stops) we've taken it a step further by making the entire platform HTML5. That not only makes the platform more affordable, but also more pervasive - allowing for signage as screensavers in the work place, embedded on corporate web pages as well as on traditional large format displays. Which really helps with consistent marketing and branding, all through a single platform.

Our building automation software utilises HTML5 for control interfaces. The CommSec TV studio, for example, is totally controlled from a web site, running in application mode on an iPad - no camera men. The presenters control everything. Sydney University's new student collaboration pods also have digital signage integrated into the control interface and are helping to define new standards in collaborative teaching and learning. It's also a very green technology compared to the traditional automation market. We control thousands of spaces from a single virtual machine verses a control computer per system. It's also open source and we will be officially launching the open source model later in the year.

What platforms do you develop for? We develop 100% for the web without plug-ins. We try to keep the back-end as agnostic as possible in terms of the OS and do a lot of work with Ruby on Rails.

What are you working on right now? We are working on moving our platforms to Engine Yard and Heroku for subscription based sales and to tap into the consumer market.

What do you think about the rise and rise of App Stores? How has it influenced your titles? The app stores haven't influenced us at all however we do have plans to utilise them in the future. Having only started the business in June 2011, targeting the web platform has allowed us to hit above our weight, adapt quickly, write once and run anywhere. That said, the rise of tablet computing and smart phones has most definitely been beneficial for us, putting a potential client in every hand.

What’s your favourite app that you didn’t create? Probably SoundCloud, it's a great idea and we are really into collaborative technologies and data visualisation.

What phone do you use? Why? A Windows 7 phone as the price was right. I didn't want to be on a plan and we already had an Android tablet and an Apple phone in the office.

What advice do you have for budding Aussie developers out there? Work on your ideas when you can, fight the status quo and start working for yourself as soon as possible. It's tough, but it beats working for the man.

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