The team Bitmasters—from left: Chathusha, Lakmal, Charith and Chanaka
After a lapse of several years, a Sri Lankan student team from the Engineering Faculty of Moratuwa University is heading to Redmond, USA, to take part in the world finals of Microsoft Imagine Cup, the world’s most prestigious student technology competition. The student team—BitMasters— is scheduled to present their product ‘Amplus’, an intelligent digital signage platform, at the Imagine Cup finals under the innovation category.
BitMasters strongly believe their product would revolutionize not only the local but also the global digital advertizing sphere. The global digital signage business is set to be a US $ 7 billion industry by 2020. BitMasters consists of Lakmal Buddika Meegahapola, Chanaka Lakmal, Chathusha Wijenayake and Charith Eranga. While Lakmal, Chanaka and Charith are in their third year in the Department of Computer Science, Chathusha is a third-year student of the Department of Civil Engineering.
“This is quite significant in a number of aspects. We have had world finalist teams in the competition in the first several years, but after the competition format changed in 2011, this is the first time we are having a team in the world finals” said Wellington Perera, DX Lead, South Asia New Markets at Microsoft and competition coordinator.
The most exciting features of the Amplus platform are its simplicity, its ability to provide feedback to the advertisers who market their products using digital signages and the targeting a specific customer segments. Amplus spares a potential advertiser of the hassle of physically tracking down an individual or a company, who owns digital signages in public places, as he or she gets a wide choice of digital signages, wherever in the country or in the world, which are already registered with the Amplus platform. This would allow the advertisers to upload their advertisements themselves using the Amplus platform via Internet, select the places they want them to appear and of course the time and duration. Once the relevant payment for the advertisement is made online, the advertisement would reach the Amplus administrators for approval and would be uploaded to the signages the advertiser had wanted on the specific date and time.
The cameras mounted to the digital signages registered with Amplus would then monitor the responses for the ad from the passer-by—basically the time duration they took to view the advertisement and what their reactions were. The coolest feature of Amplus probably is its ability to figure out the gender of the person who views the advertisement using cameras mounted to the signages and algorithms created by BitMasters.
This feature definitely will allow a potential advertiser to launch segment-specific advertising using Amplus. Amplus has already won several major local technology competitions and has stirred the interest of several leading local corporates, which allowed the BitMasters to test its product real time. Similar to the product, the business plan of BitMasters for Amplus remains simple but robust. Amplus does not own any signages and it will only provide the signage owners with the Amplus device, which has an in-built Internet connection, to be plugged into their signages or digital displays. This device will connect the signages with the Amplus platform.
Accordingly, the simple cash flow model is the advertisers will pay Amplus for their advertisements and Amplus in turn will pay the signage owners based on usage of their displays—the time duration and the frequency. “Though there were several large digital signage owning companies in the world, we believe Amplus is the only such platform presently in existence,” BitMasters team leader Lakmal Meegahapola said.