Interview with Ahmed Limame, one of the Imagine Music app creators. Imagine Music was the winner app of the Summer of Apps on Music held on August 25 at Google Offices SF. Here is his inspiring story of success:
1. Appcircus: “Hi, I am Ahmed, I am 18 years old, I came from Tunisia and this is my app.” This is how you started your presentation at the Summer of Apps in Googles office in San Francisco. Can you tell us a bit how you prepared for it?
Ahmed Limane: I really didn’t have enough time to prepare for what I was going to say in my pitch and in particular what to start with. I didn’t want to be confusing though and so I thought of starting with a brief introduction of myself and it was a pure improvisation.
2. AC: Appcircus competitions are not easy to win. There is a tough selection process and fierce competition. What inspired a young 18year old to catch a plane from Tunisia and travel to San Francisco to compete?
AL: I believe that the competition was hard, there were apps with over a million users. Yet I vied for it and I had the honour to compete with them on stage. However this is only what can be seen from the outside. From my position the challenge was even harder: about five days before the competition I got the official invitation from Google and I didn’t have neither the VISA nor enough money to cover my travel expenses. In that very limited period of time I managed to get the help of many people including governors and businessmen to look for me an exception of an urgent Visa interview at the US-Embassy in Tunisia and pay for my airfare and accommodation. I explained for every one of them the precious chance that I had to represent my nation at the GoogleHQ in SF. Finally, among all the sent emails I had one unique response, few days after I had my interview, in two days the US-Embassy gave me a ten years of VISA. I was so happy and confused about the aircraft, but the chance doesn’t betray me I was lucky again to catch the last seat to San Francisco on thesame day. Indeed, the challenge was the only thing that kept me pushing not for the sake of winning but for being be proud of who I’m and what I’m capableof doing.
3. AC: Can you explain us how does Imagine Music work?
AL: Sure, Imagine Music is a mobile phone app that challenges the users to create their own music out of their body movements. But despite the old appmethods of music performing. ex: Piano, Guitar.. where you have to hit on the screen to make noise. Imagine Music requires the gestures of your hand, wheneach time you move and burn calories, the app simultaneously determines your phone’s position and angular orientation using the data from the motiontracking sensors (Gyroscope & Accelerometer) and return back beats and audio effects suitable with the movement
4. AC: Ahmed, on top of winning the Music SOA we heard you were able to visit Google San Francisco, Mountain View and Stanford,can you tell us about that experience?
AL: It’s true that it’s been so much exciting because it was my first time ever in the States and I had to learn how the world is going there in order to fit inwith the place. And I was blessed to meet these very kind people at Google, they made every day of my stay beautiful. During which I’ve been all around thebay area. I had a tour at Google HQ in Mountain View, I’ve been in Stanford and in UC Berkeley. I had also a chance to go to Facebook in Palo Alto andexperience the new generation of the Oculus. Rather than the FUN of visiting beautiful places, trying different food and getting to know hospitable people.
5. AC: How did winning impact your life personally? How is it helping your app?
AL: From my perspective it meant a lot, I was deeply amazed and honored by getting my app considered by the experts from Pandora, Twitter, GoogleCloud, Google Music and Intel. I wouldn’t wish for better… They pushed me a step forward in my career toward becoming a computer engineer. As forImagine Music which is not on the mobile store yet, I could anticipate that people have already liked it. And that’s what matter for a developer, get the users’good feedbacks in order to maintain the supplying demand on the app.
6. AC: How did the Tunisian Community and your colleagues in the Mobile Sector receive your winning?
AL: Well, I’m sad to say that regardless to my family and a few of my friends at school, no one has appreciated my job. During my stay in the states Iremember one Googler who has told me, we are proud of you, even if people back in your country doesn’t appreciate that, we still do! Because we know howhard is to win here. At the end, I have honored my country, I let many people know about Tunisia and that it has potential on its youth, and I’m proud ofthat.
7. AC: Now, What are your next steps?
AL: Next step is Barcelona! Concerning the Imagine Music, there is still a lot to do for the Mobile Premier Award 2016. As for me, my big next step is to goto a good University to study Computer Sciences which is another main challenge in my life. I’ve dreamt a lot to get a scholarship and study in the UnitedStates, this year I’m senior in Highschool, I have to keep the hard work and expect for the best results.
8. AC: Let’s talk more about Imagine Music, how did you come up with the idea and how was the process of developing the apparchitecture?
AL: Sure, Imagine Music has also its story. We’ve been the four of us Ahmed, Malak, Haythem and Sarah, all classmates, setting our plans for a work project. Wefirst started by discussing our daily life problems. Malak was learning to do Guitar, she said that it’s a hard deal to learn guitar to perform music then shesuggested an app that simulates the Guitar and help you make music. Meanwhile, I was working on VR- Virtual Reality on Mobile. So I was familiar with themotion tracking sensors in-phones. There came the idea of merging both the experience of making music and the phone’s sensors in one algorithm. WhichI’ve developed myself, that converts the phone motions into beats!
9. AC: Did you know about the AppCircus showcase? What has it meant for the Imagine Music team to win this competition?
AL: Basically, I didn’t know about the AppCircus before. Yet I’m the kind of guy who likes to look for new opportunities in the world. It was on the Opportunitydesk.org platform that I’ve had the chance to learn of you, especially your music contest. So I went for it, I submitted the app, and I made it! My co-partners were very glad to know about that. Especially after winning the contest and knowing that we’re going to present in Barcelona! In that early age and with such achievements, it really meant the world for us.
10. AC: You have a direct slot for the Mobile Premier Awards 2016, held during the Mobile World Congress. There you’ll pitch and compete with the best apps worldwide. How are you going to prepare for this event? What does it mean for the team of Imagine Music to be there?
AL: We believe that one like these challenges are such an opportunity in our life career as young developers to show the world our skills and compete hard to honor once again our country, that’s why we are setting some large plans to get the app ready and published on the store before February 2016. There is going to be a lot of hard work paralleled with studying, but we are keeping the focus in order not to lose our spot. We’re going to do our best and hope for the best as well. The judges in the Summer of App believed in what we’ve done, which have strengthened our confidence and our determination to make some good records there in the Mobile Premier Award!
Imagine Music Team in their own words:
“Basically we are all aged 18. The three of us: Ahmed, Sarah, Haythem are studying Technology for our senior year. Malak is studying Biology for her Senior year too. All together, we live in small city in the southern Tunisia, it is Gabes. And we study in the Pioneer High School of the state, dedicated for only brilliant pupils.
I guess our interests varies, as for me. I’ve first written my first line of code 3 years ago, and since then I’ve been developing many good apps and games on smart phones, with which I used to win in several contests. I’m saying that Computer Sciences is my thing and “challenge” is my lifestyle. And this year I hope to get a scholarship in order to access to a good University abroad. I want to learn how to go professional so I can get a job and continue what I meant to be doing.
Haythem shares the same ambition as I do, he’s at the first place a 3D designer and does a lot of Image and Video editing. I used to see Haythem as a very ambitious guy, a collaborative teammate and a very smart one. I really like to work with him because he understands me fast. And together we can build extraordinary things. Maybe one day we’ll run the same company!
The girls are the other large half of the group, even though they’re not naturally born coders or designers, but they’re still there consulting, giving ideas and feedbacks to push and keep the work going! Malak’s dream is being a doctor, If you ask me, I’d say Doctors need to be like Malak. She’s got the real talent to public speak and convince with her ideas. She’s smart, energetic and a good model of hard working girl. Sarah’s dream is to become an engineer, She’s very dynamic and special!
I want also to mention Ahmed Baratli a Student at ESSAT University in Gabes, who was our Mentor in many steps of this project. Always up with his lavish admonitions of presentation skills. We learnt a lot from him and his experience in the field”. (AHMED LIMANE)