Energy giant npower is challenging developers to produce an energy-monitoring app for mobile, tablet or desktop that will enable consumers to manage their everyday consumption.
The Developer Challenge 2014 is the second iteration of the annual competition, with npower offering a prize of £10,000 to the victorious designer. The app must combine energy usage data with additional third-party information to help consumers monitor, and ultimately optimise, their energy use.
Amongst its customers, npower has recorded a growing appetite for interaction via handheld devices and hopes that the competition will produce a service that could enhance the company's mobile engagement with them.
"As a business, every decision we make is driven by our customers," said Paul Massara the CEO of RWE npower. "We have identified trends in our customers' behaviour and are responding to these directly by commissioning ideas around an energy saving app."
Developers have until 30 May 2014 to submit their entries. The competition brief states that applications must be original, fully-functional prototypes that are compatible with the latest version of Safari for iOS on the iPad and Chrome on a 9.7-10in Android tablet.
Jonathan Blades (below), the winner of last year's contest, will be getting involved once again, but this time as a judge. Blades went into last year's competition without a background in app development, and has plenty of helpful words for new entrants. "The best piece of advice I could give is really to give it a go, not to be held back by inexperience or anything else," he said.
Blades' product took four weeks to build, from design through to final product and he believes that the most important thing is for the concept to be functional, attractive and beneficial to both the customer and npower. By no means must it be the complete, polished article.
"Essentially what my app does is it creates an energy calculation for people moving homes," added Blades. "It will take into account the size of the new property and it will compare that against other properties of a similar size, similar age and with similar levels of insulation for example, and produce an energy calculation based on a number of different tariffs for that region.
"It's been really good to work with npower. Not only have they been developing the app further but they've got me involved in the whole process. It's exciting that actually it's going to be made into a proper product and that I'm getting to work with them on this journey. I'm getting to see the whole development process."
"We want to work with the developer community to collate ideas which will improve our customers' lives by helping them control their energy use and therefore save them money," Massara added. "As customers of energy suppliers themselves, we're hoping the developer community will help to bring a unique perspective to the project."
As well as the top prize, three runners up will be awarded Amazon vouchers worth £500.
Blades is now a self-confessed victim of the developer bug, and is continuing to pursue this avenue. "I would really encourage people to enter the Developer Challenge because it's a great opportunity to learn new skills and, on top of that, the winner has the awesome opportunity of working with npower to see how they do their business in this environment."
More information can be found via thedeveloperchallenge.com.