My Concept Rules: Here Are The Four Finalists

My Concept Rules: Here Are The Four Finalists

We received some awesome submissions for our My Concept Rules contest to come up for a great idea for a cloud app using the power of Windows Azure. After much deliberation, we’ve decided on the four finalists.Each of these finalists will get the chance to pitch their project to the judging panel at Microsoft’s REMIX conference in Sydney next week. That process will determine the ultimate winner, who will receive $40,000 in consulting and promotional services to help make their vision a reality.

Wine Guru (Simon Card)

Wine Guru is a “personal somellier” which lets you take a photo of a a wine list on your mobile phone and get instant recommendations. Windows Azure enables OCR and image matching technologies to successfully identify the wines on the list and offer advice.

Time 2 Roster (James Eling)

Time 2 Roster offers cloud-based rostering for SMEs, replacing paper-based systems with an attractive, Silverlight-based interface. Windows Azure provides the back end for a multi-tenant system, while the AppFabric Caching Service will allow speedy access and offline syncing.

Oxygen (Dave Gardner)

Oxygen is a business management application for commercial fruit and vegetable growers and contractors who work for them. Windows Azure provides a no-maintenance back-end system that allows farm management on PCs and automatically deploys tasks to mobile devices, while Bing Maps supplies relevant map data.

Twinker (Dwight Trounson)

Twinker is a tool for dedicated World of Warcraft enthusiasts which scans your WoW character and suggests activities and tasks to improve it. Windows Azure provides the infrastructure for a database which needs constant updating to reflect the changing WoW environment.

Thanks to everyone who entered! Keep an eye on Lifehacker next week for the outcome.


  • A widely adaptable and easy-to-use rostering system is needed by thousands of businesses. My current employer hands out a printed-out roster and then asks staff to fill in 2 weeks of timesheets ahead of time and hand them in, then change them if anything changes =\

  • Time 2 Roster FTW!

    Working in retail for 10+ years, I’ve had to rely on my own spreadsheet system for rosters to automatically calculate hours worked, different pay rates, penalties etc. I’ve had to do this, because the companies I have worked for have no system for this at all (one owned by a private investment company and one government owned). Their best option was the printed grid on a piece of paper. Needless to say, it sucks.

    Thousands of businesses would benefit from this idea. It has my whole-hearted support. Good luck, James!

  • I think the roster idea is perfect.

    The WoW one will have some demand, but is a bit 😐

    The other two are WAY to specific. Good luck to all >.<

    • Specificity isn’t a problem. They’re looking for something they can sell to people with money who aren’t completely informed, and people with mobile devices ordering from wine lists who don’t know anything about wine are a perfect target market for an example app.

      It has multiple advantages:
      1) It eases social anxiety;
      2) It’s easy to download and use;
      3) It’s a lot faster than learning about wine yourself;
      4) It gets a foot in the door for Azure/Silverlight apps with people who have money and contacts but don’t bother learning things;
      5) It gets a foot in the door for Azure/Silverlight apps with people who can afford a smartphone and restaurant meal, and who are smart, but focus their intellect elsewhere and are used to delegating relatively unimportant decisions; and
      6) It identifies a very profitable demographic of people with money and smartphones who will buy such apps and can thus be marketed to when similar products are put together later.

  • An app for a “personal sommelier” may sound appealing but what are the chances that recommendations are based on a pay-per-result system, in which winemakers willing to throw money into the developer’s bank account are rewarded with better search results? You know, you could always just ask the restaurant’s sommelier, if they have one, though there’s a good chance their recommendations are based on a similar payola as previously described.

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