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The rise of ‘on demand’ TV – streamed or downloaded online – has meant that while our favourite shows are just a click away, the social element of watching together has been left by the wayside.

Seeking to bring the fun back into watching together, a trio of developers, Alex North, Ardrian Hardono, and Teresa Leung, created an iPad app, Pass the Popcorn. The app allows users to schedule programming parties with friends, and to engage in real-time chat with the help of a selfie feature and one-touch emotion buttons.

The developers behind Pass the Popcorn were just one of the innovative teams to be recognised for their efforts by the Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation (ACBI) Apps for Broadband competition, announced in Sydney yesterday.

ACBI called for developers to create new ideas for applications to run over the next generation broadband networks, in conjunction with its industry partners Intel, iiNet, Foxtel, Pottinger, NSW Trade and Investment, NBN Co, CSIRO and NICTA. The outcomes have been truly innovative.

Colin Griffith, Director of ACBI, said our society is at the dawn of a new ‘App Age’, and the next generation of broadband networks will allow us to better manage everything from home energy use, to supporting the elderly living independently at home.

A prime example is the winner of the Smart Appliances category. The Bop Smoke Alarm app is a smoke detector and app for managing alerts, false alarms and the need to replace batteries.

Accepting the award, developer Marcus Schappi commented that there had been little to no innovation in the smoke alarm space over the past 20 years, despite the inefficiencies of the design.

Alarms that need their batteries replaced in the middle of the night is inconvenient, not to mention they are rendered useless if smoke is detected when the home occupant isn’t home to hear the alarm.

To counter this, the app sends a warning SMS to the user, and if no response is received, the fire department will be called on your behalf.

Griffith said given current predictions which indicate by 2020 the average person will own six smart devices connecting us to over 37 billion ‘things’, from cows in the field, to our car, to our washing machine, it’s clear that a better broadband infrastructure will revolutionise the way we access services in the home.

The ‘App-trepreneur’s Guide to Broadband Connected Services’ report also highlights case studies of winners from the competition as examples of these future services.

“The Apps4Broadband competition was designed to help Australians better understand what is possible through the smart use of broadband as well as accelerate the ability of Australian developers to realise new business opportunities by connecting with service providers, technology partners and end users to build game-changing apps,” Griffith said.

“The diversity of these ideas not only demonstrates the tangible benefits of broadband to the public but also suggests that we have only scratched the surface in identifying future business models and services which leverage our national broadband infrastructure. The ‘app-ortunity’ for innovation really is endless from here,” he said.