Yesterday I had the privilege to serve as a judge for an app development competition hosted by the NYC MTA, NYU Poly, AT&T and ChallengePost. It’s called App Quest and we awarded prizes to the top three winners of the first stage, called the “Hackathon.” The contest will now continue through September 18, 2013 where the final winners of the entire competition are announced.

Yesterday, however, we were simply judging applications that were created between 10am EST on Saturday and 4pm EST on Sunday. Seventeen total applications were submitted by teams and individuals for the mobile web, iOS or Android. I was blown away by the creativity and the quality of the applications that were crafted in such a short time. The judging panel, of which I was a part of, ultimately awarded a $5,000 prize to SubCulture.FM, a second place $3,000 prize to MTA Sheriff and a third place $2,000 prize to ACCESSWAY. The submissions were judged on the quality of the idea, the implementation and the potential impact for MTA riders.

ACESSWAY helps provide text-to-speech alerts and real-time service updates for the visually impaired or those who need wheelchair assistance. MTA Sheriff allows travelers on MTA transit lines to report conditions, broken turnstiles, damaged MTA transit machines and more.

SubCulture.FM was incredibly polished and we were even presented with a full copy already running on an iPad. It basically allows you to keep track of the professional and registered musicians that play in various MTA stations around the city. You can use it to see where artists are  playing, connect with them on Facbook or Twitter, identify them via a QR code, read bios and even download music.

There’s still $40,000 remaining in prizes at the end of the challenge in September. The grand prize winners will walk away with $20,000, the second place app will take home $10,000, the third place will earn $5,000 and there are two honorable mentions worth $1,000 each as well as a popular choice winner who will earn $1,000. TechnoBuffalo will continue judging through the following months, so stay tuned for plenty of exciting updates on the competition.