Andela developer wins Africa’s first VR Hackathon
“People who don’t believe in VR are people who haven’t experienced it,” says Andela developer Abdulmalik Abdulwahab. Abdulmalik’s team, LeVRn, won the Lagos Virtual Reality Hackathon on November 19. Organized by Imisi 3D, a virtual reality creation lab, the hackathon was the first of its kind on the African continent.
Abdulmalik became interested in VR while playing with a fellow Andela developer’s Google Cardboard device. After watching a 360° video, he started looking into the requirements to develop for VR, seeing it as an opportunity to get involved with a nascent technology. “VR is still a new medium, so African developers can join the race now, and by the time VR becomes something big, we’ll already be a part of it,” he explains.
— Ìmísí 3D (@Imisi3d) November 30, 2016
On team LeVRn, Abdulmalik was joined by Olumide Olajide, a 3D Artist; Tade Ajiboye, a Unity developer and engineering student at Unilag; Osarumen Osamuyi, Head of Production at Big Cabal Media; and Timi Ajiboye, a full-stack web and mobile developer at Gigster.
At the hackathon, LeVRn created a solution that allows users to connect any Android device with Leap Motion, a motion sensor hardware that facilitates a more immersive and complete VR experience. Prior to LeVRn’s hack, it was impossible to use a Leap Motion device with an Android phone, since the company’s SDK for Android devices is still in development. With Android devices accounting for close to 90% of smartphones shipped in Africa, the solution has major implications for VR on the continent.
But LeVRn came into the Hackathon with the goal of building something not just for Africa, but for the whole VR community. “We went in with the mindset to create VR for anyone who has the chance to experience it,” Abdulmalik said.
As opposed to most programming, where developers are building on a foundation that has been around for years, VR presents an opportunity to innovate on a greater scale. “In other areas of programming, there are already best practices and well known solutions — but in VR those don’t exist,” Abdulmalik added. “Whatever you’re working on, you’re at the forefront.”