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​NTU organises South-east Asia’s first WeChat app competition​

Published on: 16-Jan-2015

Webbanner - UGuide - Winner of the WeMage Challenge 2014.jpg

Participants develop mobile apps using made-in-NTU technology

Soon you may be able to take a photo of an iconic building using your smartphone and have its history read out to you through your ear-phones using an app called UGuide. Or you can take a photo of your lunch and have Market – A Foodie’s App automatically fills in the dish name, price and the restaurant of origin for your social media posts.

Such innovative mobile applications were developed by the six finalists at the WeMage Challenge 2014, organised by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Tencent, one of Asia’s largest Internet companies.

The WeMage Challenge is Singapore’s first competition aimed at developing mobile applications for WeChat, Tencent’s mobile messaging service which has more than 400 million active users worldwide.

The WeMage Challenge will see the winning team walk away with S$10,000 in cash. Tencent’s first such competition in South-East Asia, it is supported by NTUitive and TechBiz Xccelerator, NTU’s incubation and commercialisation arms respectively.

To develop the apps, participating teams must use the WeChat Smart Platform developed by Tencent’s WeChat team and the Rapid-Rich Object Search (ROSE) Lab, a joint research centre by NTU and Peking University.

This free-to-download WeChat smart platform includes a breakthrough image recognition and search software that is faster than any other similar software currently available. This allows for a photo search function that can retrieve information on almost anything that a camera is pointed at.

Professor Alex Kot, Director of NTU’s ROSE Lab and Associate Dean (Graduate Studies) for NTU’s College of Engineering said, “The creative mobile apps designed by the participants are a clear indication of the strength and versatility of the rapid image search technology developed by NTU. We see a number of promising apps developed in this inaugural competition which have the potential to add new capabilities to the already ubiquitous smart phone. Some of theideas are taking us one step closer to turning what we see in science-fiction movies into reality.”

Ms Juliet Wang, Corporate Vice President of Tencent said, “Tencent attaches great importance to research collaboration with top universities.  The academia-industry partnership with NTU and PKU through ROSE lab has proven very effective. We are very glad to see this challenge boost a lot of brilliant ideas on mobile visual application.  We believe that the collaboration between Tencent and ROSE Lab will yield more mutually beneficial results in the future.”

Chief Judge Mr Viktor Cheng, Chief Executive Officer of TechBiz Xccelerator, said he was very impressed with the quality of entries.

“Many of the finalists showcased creative solutions drawing upon the same application program interface (API) platform – demonstrating once again that useful applications can be developed using API building blocks that contain complex algorithms like image recognition,” said Mr Cheng, an experienced judge in start-ups and an expert on intellectual property.  Such programming skills will become more prevalent in future where more people can easily custom build their mobile application using readily available API platforms.”

The WeMage Challenge attracted 136 participants in 48 teams. The criterion for application was that each team should include at least one NTU student. 

The 48 teams were then provided with training through Idea Creation workshops by NTUitive, as well as technical workshops taught by NTU professors and Tencent engineers.

A total of six teams made it to the finals today, where the top three finalists were offered the opportunity to be incubated at NTUitive should they wish to continue commercialising their application. If incubated, they will be granted up to $10,000 in seed funding.

The team who developed UGuide won the top prize, while Market – A Foodie’s App was one of the two runner-ups, with the other being Image Retravel, which allows you to “travel back” using Google Street View to where you were, based on the photos you took on your holiday. (See Annex 1 for more info)

This inaugural WeMage Challenge is part of NTU’s strive towards making a global impact in areas of Innovation Asia and New Media, two of the University’s Five Peaks of Excellence. The other three peaks include Sustainability, Future Healthcare, and the Best of East and West.


Media contact:

Lester Kok
Senior Assistant Manager 
Corporate Communications Office 
Nanyang Technological University
Tel: 6790 6804


About Nanyang Technological University

A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It has a new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London.

NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI).

A fast-growing university with an international outlook, NTU is putting its global stamp on Five Peaks of Excellence: Sustainable Earth, Future Healthcare, New Media, New Silk Road, and Innovation Asia.

Besides its main campus, NTU also has campuses in one-north, Singapore’s science and tech hub, a in Novena, Singapore’s medical district, and at Gillman Barracks, Singapore’s contemporary arts cluster.

For more information, visit

About Tencent

Founded in November, 1998, Tencent has grown into one of China's largest and most used Internet service portal. Since its establishment over the last decade, Tencent has maintained steady growth under its user-oriented operating strategies. On June 16, 2004, Tencent Holdings Limited (SEHK 700) went public on the main board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

It is Tencent's mission to enhance the quality of human life through Internet services. Presently, Tencent is providing value-added Internet, mobile and telecom services and online advertising under the strategic goal of providing users with "one-stop online lifestyle services". Tencent’s leading Internet platforms in China – QQ (QQ Instant Messenger), WeChat,, QQ Games, Qzone,– have brought together China's largest Internet community, to meet the various needs of Internet users including communication, information, entertainment, e-commerce and others.

The development of Tencent has profoundly influenced the ways hundreds of millions of Internet users communicate with one another as well as their lifestyles. It also brings possibilities of a wider range of applications to the China’s Internet industry.

About ROSE Lab at NTU

With the proliferation of mobile internet devices, the Rapid-Rich Object Search (ROSE) Lab was conceived to address the growing need to expand search beyond text’s limited capability in describing real-world objects.  The Lab aims to build visual search technology on media cloud platforms to support real-time applications with scalability to user demand.

The ROSE Lab was jointly set up between the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, and Peking University (PKU), China, drawing upon each university’s strength in media, computer vision, and cloud computing technologies

The lab is physically located on a premise provided and maintained by NTU, in Singapore. Faculty and students from both universities have been participating in the research activities, inside and outside of the physical lab space.  The ROSE Lab is part of NTU’s New Media peak of excellence.

For more information, visit

About NTUitive

NTUitive Pte Ltd (“NTUitive” in short) is Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) innovation and enterprise company. We manage the University’s intellectual property, promote innovation, support entrepreneurship and facilitate the commercialization of research.

NTUitive is the interface between research and the business world. Our activities involve working with faculty across diverse technology areas to take discoveries from a multitude of disciplines to seek applications for them in products, services and jobs of tomorrow. One of the most important roles of NTUitive is to commercialize the research coming out of the University and grow its brand worldwide. We work with the inventors to find commercial applications and work with our industrial partners to bring these inventions, through licensing, to market.  We also help, when relevant, with spinout company formation to take these innovative technologies to market and generate social and economic impact.

As an established start-up incubator, we also assist entrepreneurial faculty and students create new businesses to take their technologies/ideas to market. We provide start-ups with access to early-stage funding, market development, mentoring support and start-up facilities within the Innovation Centre at the University.

NTUitive manages the Innovation Centre, the nexus of the I&E ecosystem at NTU. It is a mix of work and social space to incubate and nurture start-ups; the place to be for like-minded individuals to work, network, share synergies and create alliances to enhance their value proposition.

Annex A

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