After days of intense exhibitions, Silicon Mountain’s hacker, Zuo Bruno wins an exceptional prize for Zoomed, a Car Tracking Application that works purely on SMS. Zuo Bruno received this prize – the Lion D’or and cash worth FCFA 10 Million – during the 6th edition of the Days of Scientific Excellence and Innovation (JERSIC), organized by Cameroon’s Ministry of Scientific Research and Innovation (MINRESI).
Zoomed is a car tracking application that uses cheap and affordable SMS technology to locate any Zoomed-equipped vehicle in real-time without the need for Internet connectivity. Zuo Bruno is the founder of Zuoix – the company that pioneered the development of Zoomed.
Zuoix, a Limbe-based startup, is Cameroon’s first Offensive Information Security firm that provides SMS-based security solutions and applications to businesses, corporate bodies and governments in Africa.
With the aim of encouraging and advancing developments in research and innovation, the Ministry of Scientific Research and Innovation launched the Week of Excellence to recognize and reward Cameroon’s most prolific researchers and innovators. The event that ran from February 21 to 23, 2018 launched under the theme, “Scientific research and innovation: strategic tools for business and socio-economic transformations.”
Thanks to the country’s burgeoning tech community, Silicon Mountain, the Cameroonian government is now recognizing the otherwise, growing importance of tech innovation in the economic development of its choking economy.
Zuo Bruno was however challenged by the sudden shutdown of the internet in Cameroon’s Anglophone’s regions in 2017, that he began to think out of the box to build tech products that function without the internet. Zoomed subsequently happened to be a product of the internet shutdown in Cameroon’s English-speaking communities.
A sheep in wolf clothing?
Though Zuo Bruno’s initial idea was to build a car-tracking application that will use GPS via the internet, his intentions changed after the government initiated an internet shutdown in late 2016.
Bruno felt the death touch of this blackout as his once-promising project came to a sudden pause. At first, he was devastated and frustrated – that the entire energy and resources he had put into this project had just circled down the drain. He, however, did not stop believing in his dream. It had also sparked an idea, one that would eventually materialize into an award-winning application a year later.
“What if instead of building an app that needs the internet to function like the many car tracking applications already in available, I build one that functions without the internet?” Bruno pondered. And as this question lingered in his mind, he buried himself in a never-ending research.
It occurred to him that SMS technology was actually what he needed. Besides being an internet-void technology, it was also cheap and affordable especially for emerging economies like Cameroon. However, the only problem was how to integrate this technology into the system.
After consulting with fellow coders both online and offline, Bruno gained some insights and eventually found the hidden door. He had just created the first SMS-based car tracking application that works without the internet. He called it, “Zoomed.”
Internet blackouts around the world have however created other prolific innovations. One of such innovations is Share Via SMS, used to share text and audio messages using basic SMS technology. This application proved particularly useful in internet-blind regions of Cameroon.
How Zoomed Works
The application works after an MT3336 GPS Chip is programmed with a sensitivity of -159dBm and installed in a car. This chip will allow the user to receive GPS signals even in the remotest parts of the planet.
To locate the car, the user simply has to place a call to that car and it will drop the call after two rings and reply with an SMS showing the current location, speed, and direction of the car.
The app comes preconfigured with other features like:
- Voice Surveillance & two-way calling functionality
- Geo-fencing technology with SMS
- Overspeed recognition and alarm
- Ignition alert
- SOS alarm
- Power failure alert
Since 2011, car theft has been on a steady increase in Cameroon. This application now prides itself as an ultimate solution for car owners and the automobile industry. Innovation is at the heart of economic development in Africa’s slow emerging economies. In fact, Africa’s most powerful economies owe their success to solid developments in science, technology, and innovation.
Zoomed is only the start of a new trend in technology Zuoix is creating which has been termed, the “SMS-Of-Things.”