AppsterLabs is our Top-Secret research department that deals with highly risky, large scale projects with huge potential. Past examples of projects through this department include a specialised cryptocurrency, medical optics hardware and disruptive technologies within the hospital management space. Appster allocates some of the world’s best specialist developers, scientists and mathematicians to create a prototype of your idea. We assist with R&D rebates, client capital raising and marketing and dedicate full-time self-organising teams towards your project, usually for a period of 6 months or more.
Using a Kanban driven development process we work with your core team to test assumptions, make mistakes and report regularly on how we are approaching the initial minimum viable product.
A large majority of the ideas that come to Appster are based on highly disruptive, imaginative uses of existing technologies. New ways to use and leverage tools and equipment already in the mainstream market.
For example, Facebook managed to unseat MySpace by innovating on the ways that their social network engage their audience compared with the way MySpace had done it. Both used very similar web based technologies. The magic was in the implementation and execution.
Other ideas leverage technology in a way that perhaps has not been considered before or combine technologies that were previously not intuitively considered compatible.
For example, combining smartphone video cameras with the on-device accelerometers, compasses and GPS receivers to produce augmented-reality applications. This is a highly complex scenario but one that leverages the existing hardware and software to it’s maximum capability. The technology can (or should) be able to support the idea but it perhaps has not been tested yet.
In some cases, the technology is very new and an idea aims to capitalise on it quickly before others realise the advantage. This is effectively a rush to capture the opportunity before competitors are able to do so.
For example, when the iPhone first emerged, the development tool kits were primitive and difficult to use, and the process for development was lengthy, buggy and painstaking. However, the first apps to launch on the App Store were commonly very successful because they were the first ones to be available and competition was low. This is called a “Green Field” environment – as there is little or no development or competition in the space yet.
As the iPhone Software Development Kits improved then the technical risks reduced but the business competition increased and, in the iPhones case, it increased dramatically!
Similarly, Google Glass will (likely) proceed through a similar evolution as consumers take up the product.
In some cases, entrepreneurs come to Appster with ideas that require a completely different technology or an extreme modification to an existing technology.
This is different to the Green Field or Maximisation innovations because often these ideas have either never been implemented before (as the hardware or software technologies do not exist yet) or they have only been implemented as rough prototypes or poor quality production implementations (as the hardware or software can only support the idea within laboratory conditions).
For example, it is possible to detect a sound wave on a smartphone and determine its frequency – provided there is no background noise and that only a single note is played and this note is continuous for a number of seconds. On the other hand, the technology required to detect the pitch and tempo of notes played in a four piece ensemble with lots of frequencies mixed together will be orders of magnitude more complex. In this example, many people have tried to solve this puzzle but none have yet succeeded with any accuracy.
The four main areas of innovation are: Business Innovation, Technical Innovation
(Maximisation), Technical Innovation (Green Field), Technical Innovation (Experimentation)
Appster Labs is primarily concerned with the three (3) latter areas of innovation. When an entrepreneur first comes to Appster with their idea, we conduct a quick feasibility check to determine if any (or all) of the project is feasible within the “Business Innovation” definition of feasibility.
For the vast majority of projects, the answer is “YES”. In this case, Appster provides a cost and time estimation and the project proceeds along the standard Appster Agile Software Development Process. For some projects, the answer is “NO” and, if the Technical Innovation is untried and/or unproven, then we proceed entirely with Appster Labs. For some projects, the answer is “YES and NO”, in which case, if possible, the “YES” component of the project is cost and time estimated as for other “YES” projects, and the “NO” component proceeds as an Appster Labs project.
An Appster Lab Project is a block of work with the principle objective of removing or reducing
The reason why it is necessary to put the “NO” components into an Appster Labs Project instead of absorbing it as part of an Appster Agile Project is because it is impossible to estimate the time and effort involved with any degree of certainty for technically complex and unproven ideas. This is because an Estimate is not a guarantee, it is a Probability.
As Technical Complexity increases, then the Uncertainty increases and the Probability that the Estimate is accurate decreases dramatically.
Each Appster Labs Project aims to prove (or disprove) one or more technically complex
idea(s). Each idea should ideally be tackled separately and any dependencies between ideas
should be removed. Focus on one challenge at a time.
What is the objective of the Project? What is the best case outcome that would ideally be achieved?
How much time needs to be allocated to the Project? Who will be allocated and why? What are the cost and time thresholds?
Ordinarily a Project Team is allocated to the Project for a fixed duration or cost.The makeup and cost of the team will vary depending on the technical challenges to be addressed
All Appster Lab Projects are Time Boxed or Money Boxed. The entrepreneur and Appster mutually agree how much time and/or cost the project is likely to need in order to provide a result.
It should be noted that it is possible that the outcome of an Appster Labs Project may be inconclusive. If this is the case, the project is stopped at the agreed time or cost boundary and the entrepreneur discusses with Appster whether there is any benefit in continuing or not.
At the conclusion of the Appster Labs Project, all source code, the Summary Report, all documentation etc. and all learnings are provided to the client in a timely manner in whatever format is appropriate.