The DukeMobile Challenge

Congrats to our Winners!

We had eight incredible entries to the DukeMobile Challenge and hope to continue to develop them to be eventually included in the DukeMobile application. Congrats to the winners from Duke Directions, Tranzip, FoodApp, and Agend. Full story here.

In an early Co-Lab planning meeting, a student wrote on a brainstorming flip-chart:
"DukeMobile app: students should make this!"
Well, here's your chance.

OIT has released a pilot version of a new DukeMobile interface, which will essentially be a launching point for all of the various kinds of modules you would need as a Duke student, staff, faculty, visitor, or parent. Think of it as the mobile homepage for all things Duke. We've got a few modules that we've built out already, but your challenge is to help shape the new Duke Mobile application by building modules (native iOS/Android or HTML5) that could potentially be included in the new app, when it's rolled out in production in the fall.

Two starting points:

We're doing something a bit unconventional and unprecedented in this challenge. The DukeMobile Team at OIT has partnered with the Innovation Co-Lab to make all of the code for the OIT-built apps fully available. You can use the code, available on Gitorious, as a starting point for your app by cloning our work and editing or adding from there. Maybe you just want to add another feature to the directory app, or maybe you want to completely convert it into a native iOS app to take advantage of some additional native features. In either case, you can start with our documented code and then take it wherever you want from there.

Of course, maybe you want to develop something that we haven't thought of or just like starting with a clean slate, so you don't need to use our code as a starting point, but it's there if you need it. Feel free to develop in either native iOS or Android, or in mobile-friendly (or responsive) HTML5.

You won't be alone in this either; we'll be bringing in some of the OIT engineers behind the DukeMobile app to help answer questions and provide feedback and mentorship for your project. To find out about these events, join our mailing list below.

Important Dates

May 14th

It all starts!

June 6th, 3pm EST

We'll be hosting a web chat with participants who have questions. On the call will be Co-Lab organizers and the OIT developers responsible for DukeMobile. Come with questions! Details, RSVP on our Facebook page.

September 3, 7pm EST

At our first Studio Night of the semester, we'll be bringing in some of the engineers behind the DukeMobile app. Bring your works-in-progress, questions, or an open mind about the future of this platform.

October 4th, midnight

All code is due and must be submitted to our Gitorious server for review. More details about how to submit code is below.

October 11th

We'll announce the winners!


  • Best Android native - Nexus 10 + $1500
  • Best iOS native - iPad + $1500
  • Best HTML5 - iPad Mini or Nexus 7 + $1000
  • Honorable Mention - $500

Best Android and iOS apps will be judged based on the best use of the native features of the device. Best apps may be included in Version 2 production launch on Nov. 1.

All launch dates and prizes are subject to change.


  • Projects will be judged by a panel including:
    • Michael Faber, Innovation Co-Lab Program Manager
    • Richard Outten, Senior Manager, Developer for OIT
    • Mark McCahill, Co-Lab Advisor, Technical Architect for OIT
    • Blyth Morrell, Assistant Director, Office of Marketing and Communications, DukeMobile Project Team Member
    • Tim Bounds, Senior Director, Strategic Operations and Technology, Student Affairs
    • Other judges TBA
  • Projects will be judged on the following criteria:
    • Value of the app to DukeMobile users.
    • Creativity and elegance in building user interface.
    • Use of available technology in Duke's IT ecosystem and externally.
  • Distribution of the prize pool is at the discretion of the Judges and Organizers.


Can I do this with a team?

Absolutely, it's actually highly encouraged. Most startups and small businesses work best with a small group of like-minded individuals with complementary skills.

Who can participate?

Undergraduate or graduate students who will be enrolled in the fall '13 semester.

How will Apps be definitively categorized as iOS/Android Local or HTML5 if they contain elements of both?

The judging of native iOS and Android apps will be based on how well they make use of the device itself. So just building something in PhoneGap or TriggerIO may produce a nice app, but the best native apps will make best use of the device by accessing other system information (cameras, photos, gps, contacts, etc.)

I want to participate, but I'm in need of others to collaborate with (I need an idea/developer/team etc). Where can I find them?

Either email with your request, or use the discussion forum we've set up on the Innovation CoLab page at

I want to work on this Challenge, but I'm not sure how to get started. Any advice?

We are providing more and more support for the new developer on our Innovation Co-Lab page on Concourse. Look for Technical Resources there.

What state does my project have to be in for me to be considered for the prize?

Projects need to be "functional." This can mean working code in an application or website, or a demonstrated proof of concept for an updated process that has an executable path to productization. No miracle steps. It needs to work.

If I make something really amazing, is Duke going to claim ownership of the Intellectual Property?

Your participation in the Innovation Co-Lab, including winning a challenge, collecting prize money, using Innovation Co-Lab resources or meetings to develop inventions, software, copyrighted works or unpatented materials does not, in and of itself, give Duke any rights to those developments. If Duke is otherwise entitled to rights in such a development under its standard Intellectual Property Policy, the fact that you participated in a Co-Lab challenge or used its resources (VMs, APIs, technical expertise, and other resources) do not eliminate or diminish Duke's existing rights. All we ask is to allow Duke to freely access your product. If you want to monetize it elsewhere, go for it.

Submission Guidelines

We want to see your final product, but also the underlying code that you used to get it looking great on the outside, so here's what we'd like you to do:

  • Create a repository on Gitorious - - and post all of the code of your project in that repository. Make sure it's public so we can check it out.
  • Your code repository should ideally include a README doc that explains the structure and logic of your project. It doesn't have to be exhaustive, just enough so that another developer could understand what you did.
  • Ideally, we'd also like to see a working demo of your project. You can host any mobile-friendly HTML sites on a Virtual Machine from If you have an iOS app that you want signed, we can help with that - email us at
  • When you've got all that sorted out, you can head over to our Submission Form, which will collect all of the required info and send it over.

Join the Innovation Co-Lab to find out more about what we're up to, what events we have coming up, and how to access all of our technical resources.

For best results, we recommend your email address