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New apps born late at night in Copenhagen University basement

Students gather after hours in the NBI (Niels Bohr Institute) physics department basement. They are developing new mobile apps, and working on other ideas and projects outside the curriculum

What does python and java have in common? They are an animal and an island. And they are programming languages.

The University of Copenhagen hosted student-group nBIOS (Niels Bohr Institute Open Software) is using these programs and building, among other things, apps for mobile phones.

nBIOS has University of Copenhagen, Technological University of Denmark (DTU), IT University in Copenhagen (ITU) students involved. It is a group of mostly international students with backgrounds like natural science, physics, biology, and computer science. What they all combine is a strong interest in computers and the free distribution of software (Open Source).

Fun, but with consequences

Open Source Software is an idea that millions of enthusiasts around the world are devoted to. It includes a completely open and documented developing process, enabling everybody to check the programs for errors and report them, but also making sure no viruses are built into the system. Open Source is not only something for the computer expert, but is present in a lot of widely popular computer programs like OpenOffice and Android.

Being a self-determined student club, nBIOS is free to decide which projects to pursue, enabling them to expand into many different areas. This leads to taking part in an Artificial Intelligence (AI) challenge, developing a game with rockets orbiting planets, working on social media, and taking on the outdoors.

”I wanted to develop highly employable skills that had testable solutions and real life consequences, whilst having fun with friends,” says Callum Kift, co-founder of nBIOS and theoretical physics student at the Niels Bohr Institute.


For nBIOS, social media is not only what’s happening in your browser or on your phone; social media websites, like Facebook, Twitter or Google+, are offering a so called API (Application Programming Interface) enabling developers to write create programs using their own profile information. Don’t worry, they cannot access any more data than everybody else.

With the use of a big Open Source project called OpenCV and the facebook API it is possible to build face-matching into your social media experience.

Face matching can be used to identify your Facebook friends in photos on your phone and give you information on their last activities on Facebook (only if you give them permission).

Outdoor enthusiasts

Building an app combining Facebook and face-matching is one of the projects nBIOS is working on. Another project is aiming at the outdoor enthusiast, creating a program to find the best places for camping.

Imagine backpacking in the woods in northern Sweden, and the sun slowly setting. You want to pitch your tent but the places around you are not really nice. Eventually you end up doing it anyway, because there is always a next corner you can look around and check for the perfect camping site. Building an app that allows hikers to save and share nice camping locations is the vision for this project. You could look at your phone, and if somebody has marked a nice campsite nearby, you can follow their recommendation, and be sure to have a nice place for the night.

When this project is finished, nBIOS will upload the app to the Play Store (Android’s App Store) and share it with outdoor enthusiasts around the world.

Follow their projects and get in contact with them via google+ here.

See more information and contact info in fact box upper right.

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