Final Round-up from our Citizen Journalist

This year we invited long-time Over the Air attendee “Phone Fighter” and “Teen Dragon” Peter Price to be our Citizen Journalist and give us the word from the ground. Peter told us about the first sessions he attended at OTA12, and also interviewed Keynote Speaker Ariel Waldman.

But Peter went on to share his impressions of the Ignite Bletchley Park talks on Friday night, in which he also participated!

Last night the Ignite talks took place, informing us of everything from the fact that the colour of something effects us, such as red making us hungry blue not. Or an ingenious if not slightly impractical strategy for the UK to win the Eurovision through breaking the country up into several parts based on native language. It was fascinating to hear the theory that the way we touch phones is too aggressive through our jabbing motions but something more similar to Monkeys grooming, stroking, should be more used increasing our affection for these inanimate objects. I too took part last night giving a talk on Kony 2012 and social media as a youth campaigning tool and I have to tell you there is nothing stranger then hearings ones own voice over a mic. Thankfully I was able to get through the talk and hopefully I wasn’t too boring. Well-done to everyone who spoke – you were great.  And thanks to the audience for listening!

Peter took advantage of the opportunity to take one of the tours graciously set up by Bletchley Park and it’s volunteers Over the Air attendees on both Friday and Saturday.  Attendees joined volunteer PJ Evans on a tour of the park, to find out more about the work that went on there and come face to face with the Enigma, Turing’s codebreaking ‘Bombe’ and the World’s first programmable computer: Colossus. On Saturday, the National Museum of Computing very graciously opened it’s doors to all attendees of Over the Air, as well as offering guided tours with volunteers such as Chris Monk.

Well yesterday I got to see the replica Bombe, the Colossus and of course the enigma machine and through it was able to learn much of the Founding Fathers and Mothers of computing. Today I get to go to the National Museum of Computing – a unique place full to the tip with computers, from Acorns to the BBC Master Compact. The museum seems to understand the need for interaction with its audience, with individuals being able to play PAC-MAN – which I particularly enjoyed – to the Microsoft Flight Simulator – which I still can’t get into the air. The place is one of nostalgia for a time of strange beeping noises and extremely frustrating games. It feels odd to walk through this place with my free I-Pad (thanks OTA!), like a man from the future looking down at some ancient civilisation.

The second day of workshops and tutorial sessions was wrapped up in the Marquee Tent by our Closing Keynote speaker Francois Grey from the Citizen Cyberscience Centre:

Francois Grey’s ‘Citizen Science to Open Science – the Road Ahead’ the closing keynote speech was a fascinating look into scientific and technological collaboration, innovation and of course citizen science. Citizen Science is the idea that elitism in science is not something to be encouraged but in fact destroyed, the people must be involved and Francois shows how these citizen scientists can change the world. Such as set up in Africa to tackle the deadly disease which we learn now is used by governments in Africa to decide on investments in overcoming the disease such as bed nets and drug treatment. I in many ways feel in connection with the idea of citizen science through my role as citizen journalist. Being able to be part of this event despite my lack of coding skills and being immersed into this world of mobile technology and innovation, through it my interest and passion has greatly increased and we must hope that more citizens can get involved especially the youth in Over the Air.
And then of course, the crowing glory of the event: the Hack Day demo’s and Awards:
Now on to the hack-day competition, which we all know to be always hilarious, inspiring and extremely creative and today was no different. The demo started up with an app that in the spirit of Bletchley Park that allowed for ciphered messages to be sent, received, and then deciphered. The demo continued through with candidates presenting apps of various types including maps, tracking systems, music, and alcohol including an app called ‘How Many Beers?’ which allowed you to notify all your friends what you drank, how much, and where.  There was also an app specifically about beer, allowing users to find all the beer in the world through use of a mapping system.
Perhaps one of the most awe-inspiring apps was one that used light and proximity and made it into sound, something with n0 practical purpose, but something I think we can all agree is both cool and wonderfully scientific – two things that normally aren’t in the same sentence. One of my other favourites was the ‘naughty step enforcer’ that stops anyone from leaving the step by the phone setting off an alarm once you leave that point. Both simple and practical. Or the robot that catapults sweets at you based on light. The creator is the youngest OTA has had and it’s wonderful to see youth get involved, keep up the good work!
Of course no hack-day would be complete without a few hiccups, of which we had a few, but that should not deter all those who participated. What we saw was innovation no matter how small or what mistakes there were on the demo. Developers came together and worked through the night to make something new and different, and this is exactly how technological and scientific progress should be made. Through the collaboration and determination of people with real passion and of course a really cool idea, all of which we had a lot of at Over the Air.
Winners of the competition include team Glitch for Best User Experience & Best Use of Open APIs that allowed users to share info on online glitches and track bugs online, and team Edent for Best in Show with an app that made proximity and light into sound, a truly amazing and awe-inspiring app with both the scientific and cool factor.
Thank-you for your fantastic coverage of the event Peter – we look forward to seeing a Hack Day entry from you in some future year!

Interviews with our Sponsors

We asked a few of our sponsors about why they get involved in Hack Days:

“I have attended several hack days and developer conferences in the past years and I find them a great way to share knowledge and experiences, get feedback and to learn new things. You can always get docs, specs, presentations and almost everything else by searching online, but the human factor of live events always gives me something unexpected and valuable.” – Emanuele Bolognesi,  Head of AppsFuel

“We want to connect with developers, gather feedback on our APIs as well as gain knowledge on what other content developers would like to see on our platform.” Deborah Akinpelu, Pearson 

“The enthusiasm and knowledge of the people I meet is always inspiring and I learn so much.” James Rosewell,

It not only helps us reach our target audience and speak to developers who want to hear from us, but is also a nice way to give something back to the community” Terence Eden, InMobi

Does involvement in Hack Days have an impact on the further development of your products and services?

“Absolutely. Being involved in hackathons allows us to get a feel for not only what type of content we should work towards offering but also which data structures are more preferable and easier to use by developers, e.g. XML vs JSON”. – Deborah

Yes. We meet our customers (other developers) face to face and learn what challenges they have and hopefully what they like (and don’t like sometimes) about our products.” – James

“We use it for product feedback and user testing”. – Terence

“As you know we are currently working on AppsFuel, the new marketplace for HTML5 mobile web apps, recently launched in beta. AppsFuel‘s mission is to create a profitable ecosystem for developers. This is why it’s crucial for us to create tools that developers need to help them make their apps successful. So yes, meeting other developers at hack days such us OTA will inevitably have an impact on our own development decisions.” – Emanuele

There are a lot of different views on what defines Innovation, how it can be achieved, and how to nurture and support it within organisations. We think that the kind of creative tinkering, new learning, and collaboration that takes place at Hack Days lays the basis for future Innovations in the mobile industry and beyond. What are your own approaches to Innovation?

“a) Understand the problem really well, b) find a design that’s better than anything else, c) work really bloody hard to make it happen, d) listen to feedback, e) keep improving.” – James

The freedom to try (new) things in collaboration with the developer community. – Deborah

How do you see the role of developers in the future of the mobile industry?

They’re key – but in a long tail sense.  Pick up enough of them and hope that one becomes the next Angry Birds 🙂 – Terence

The mobile apps explosion has completely changed the role of the developers from supporting players to leading actors. Hugely successful products such as Instagram (or Angry Birds, Tap Tap Revenge and so on) were created by small teams of developers.Unfortunately the closed nature of native apps stores has already started creating problems for developers, that’s why we are betting on HTML5 with AppsFuel. This is the technology that will create the biggest opportunities in the near future. – Emanuele

We see developers moving away from platform-specific app development as cross-platform capabilities evolve. – Deborah

At the centre. The mobile industry is where the PC industry was in the early to mid 80s. Software will make or break multibillion dollar products and developers write the software. – James

What do you think is the key to a great app or a great mobile website?

A great user experience is very important. Listening to users and fixing bugs as needed or wanted is also key to a great app or mobile website. – Deborah

Everybody agrees that mobile apps should be simple, easy to use and must focus on a specific features. Some people say this does not apply to websites, but since people now mostly browse from smartphones or tablets, that’s not true anymore. The border between web and mobile web has disappeared and the difference between web apps and websites is fading. – Emanuele

Understanding what the user wants. Avoid pissing off your customer. Luck. – Terence

Understanding context. As just one example; where is the end user and what are they most likely to want where they are at this precise moment. – James

Do you have a view on the “next big thing” in the mobile industry?

Yes. The 100s of millions of web sites that don’t provide a good mobile experience being upgraded to support the small mobile screen, and mid sized tablet screens by relatively low skilled developers and end users. Ow. And machine to machine (smart meters, vending machines, etc) doubling the number of active mobile connections in the western world in only a few years. – James

No doubt about it: HTML5 web apps! – Emanuele

Micro-payments. People won’t pay 99p for a new set of levels – but they will pay 9p for a single level.
Internationalization. Developers from poor countries targeting rich countries for a big payout. – Terence

We envision an evolution of ‘App Stores‘. – Deborah

What changes would you like to see happen in the mobile industry to really accelerate innovation?

Reduction of the 30% fee from app stores. – Terence

Tizen, WeOS, Mozilla OS, others becoming a commercially viable alternative to Android with the huge budgets required to gain mass market adoption. I can but dream. – James

WebGL on mobile, full support of HTML5 and CSS3, including device APIs and the removal of browser vendor specific solutions. This will create an open and incredibly powerful cross-device development platform. – Emanuele

Thank-you for your time! We hope you had a great OTA12.

Thank-you to our Prize Sponsors

The Hack Day is a central part of Over the Air, with lots of great creativity and hard work through the night – and we are so thrilled that we are able to award an amazing selection of prizes to the winners of the various Hack Day Challenges and categories.

This wouldn’t be possible without the generosity and support of the following companies:


O’Reilly Media

For the last two years, the lovely people in the O’Reilly Media London office have donated the most amazingly broad range of practical and useful wireless programming books. Be sure to make good use of the free eBook Voucher that was provided to all attendees!

This year they awarded:

 to Tom Hume for It’s Good to Talk, Terence Eden for Bletchley Sonata, and Team Intohand (Matt Rollings, Tom Durrant, Elliot Long and Kieran Gutteridge) for Live Quiz in the Best Android Entry category.

to Team SDK Dub Remix (Kieran Gutteridge and Chris Ross) for their winning entry Stop Blocking the Beats in the Best iOS Category.

to Team Wendy (Matt O’KeefeDexter Dillinger, Laura Sanders, Trent Walton, Claire Scantlebury, and Matt Hunt) for their entry How Many Beers, in the Best Windows Phone Award

to Team Umbicord (Sandor Toth) for his entry Umbicord in the Best Hardware Hack category.

to Team Threedom (Matt Oakes, Rob Douglas & Luis Abreu) for their winning entry Boot to Threedom in the Best Mobile Web category

to Team QRtists (Tristan Roddis and Nigel Crawley) for their winning entry QR Codebreakers in the Best Tablet category



LEGO Mindstorm have really become a much-loved fixture of Over the Air with a robot hacking session on the workshop programme, and a history of great Hacks on the Demo stage. As they did last year, LEGO have generously given away all of the sets which were used during the workshop session as prizes for the Hack Day.

This year they awarded sets to:


Vodafone Group R&D

Possibly one of the most coveted prizes this year was the Raspberry Pi , more due to the difficulty of obtaining one than it’s market value. Vodafone Group R&D generously awarded an RP to Terence Eden for his entry  Bletchley Sonata, which won the Best in Show award, selected by the Judges.

The winners of  the Vodafone Embedded Hardware Hack Challenge were Ali Bros & Dylan Jones for their entry Dude, Where’s My Car? Ali and Dylan each won an HTC 1 X phone, a k3770 modem, a SIM payt 20 credit, and an mbed, donated by Vodafone.



The Bletchley Park Trust

Along with a Bletchley Park T-shirt, the lovely people at Bletchley Park Trust gave a First Day Cover stamp from the Bletchley Park Post Office, signed by Jean Valentine (one of the original Bletchley Park Wren’s).

This was awarded to Team TACS ( Thomas Hopper) for his winning entry The Bletchley SMS Encryptor in  the Bletchley Park Challenge.



The HMGCC were out large and in style at Over the Air again this year, letting people know about the many great job opportunities on their team, and this year they engraved a Motorola Xoom 2 especially for the event.

This was awarded to Team DoTank (Phil Willoughby) for his winning entry Snique in the Secure Communications Challenge.



Facebook very generously donated a Samsung Galaxy S2, which went to the winners of  the Facebook Open Graph Challenge – Ali Bros & Dylan Jones for their entry Dude, Where’s My Car?



The team at Blackberry very generously donated a Blackberry PlayBook for the Best User Experience award, which went to Team Glitch (William Morland ) for his entry Pepin




The Nokia Team brought a huge box of Lumia 800s with them to the event, some of which they gave away on-the-fly to developers they were having conversations with about the WindowsPhone platform (give us a shout if you were one of the lucky ones!)

The rest they awarded as prizes to:



The team at Samsung, even though they unfortunately couldn’t make it out to the event, very generously awarded an Samsung Galaxy S2 to Team Glitch (William Morland ) for his winning entry Pepin in the Best Use of Open APIs / Open Data category.



Google very generously donated and awarded a Galaxy Nexus to the winners for the Best Android Entry: Tom Hume for It’s Good to Talk, Terence Eden for Bletchley Sonata, and Team Intohand (Matt Rollings, Tom Durrant, Elliot Long and Kieran Gutteridge) for Live Quiz.

DroidCon / WIP

Thibaut Rouffineau of WIP (Wireless Industry Partnership) & the Droidcon London team brought an arm full of awards for the winners of the Best Android Entry:

  1. Free tickets to Droidcon 2012
  2. the book Android in Practice
  3. other Android Goodies…

The awards went to Tom Hume for It’s Good to Talk, Terence Eden for Bletchley Sonata, and Team Intohand (Matt Rollings, Tom Durrant, Elliot Long and Kieran Gutteridge) for Live Quiz.


Ansca Mobile

Although they couldn’t join us this year,  Ansca Mobile  very generously awarded a a Corona Pro subscription  (a value of $349 per year) to Team Recently Engaged (Dom Hodgson and Heather Burke) for their winning entry I Hope This Works in the Best Game Category.


Blue Via awarded a “Goodie Bag of Geekery”, which included a Crumpler bag, a mifi, a fitbit, solar charger & other small electronic gadgets like headphones, & healthy edibles – to Team Hyperiron (Hercules FishermanPaul TannerSarah Mount & Nikita Korotaev) for their winning entry Jatrobot in the Best Use of Other Features Category.

Hack Day Awards – part 2

The Results of the OTA12 Hack Day

[hr]Audience Favourite

Sam Machin - photo credit Martin Cunningham

The winner of the Audience Favourite Award was Sam Machin for NS Tweet:

This is the twitter client MacGyver would use if he were stuck in a Hliton Hotel room with their expensive paid WiFi, or if he found himself in a repressive state that had blocked twitter access eg Iran, Syria, etc. 

I’ve written a server that allows you to send tweets hidden inside DNS traffic, most networks allow DNS to pass freely and due to the nature of the system it relays the request through various servers until it gets to the destination, now you can tweet with nothing more than an nslookup command.

I haven’t yet got receiving of messages working but that’s on the plan using TXT records so right now its sending only, also this is more of an API/Platform as I don’t have any pretty clients, but hey if you’re stuck in the desert with nothing more than half a hair pin, a rugby ball and a pay-walled wifi connection you can now tweet!”

Sam won a LEGO Mindstorm Kit, donated by LEGO.

[hr]Best in Show

Terence Eden - photo credit Martin Cunningham

The winner of the Best in Show Award was Terence Eden for Bletchley Sonata:

“Music of the spheres – a melodious journey through the environment. A piece of music so sumblime it defies all explanation!”

For samples of the music, listen to Jamillah Knowles’ interview with Terence Eden on the BBC Radio 5 Outriders programme (the last interview on the clip). Terence won a Raspberry Pi donated by Vodafone Group R&D.

[hr] The Bletchley Park Challenge

Bletchley Park award - photo credit Steve Karmeinsky

Team TACS ( Thomas Hopper) won  the Bletchley Park Challenge for his entry The Bletchley SMS Encryptor:

An Android App to allow the little ones to send encrypted text messages to each other and intercept them for code breaking. Two simple cyphers to use and try to break. Themed for Bletchley Park in striking orange.”

Thomas won a First Day Cover from the Bletchley Park Post Office, signed by Jean Valentine (one of the original Bletchley Park Wren’s) – donated by the Bletchley Park Trust.

[hr] The Secure Communications Challenge

HMGCC award - photo credit Steve Karmeinsky

Team DoTank (Phil Willoughby) won the Secure Communications Challenge for his entry Snique:

“I wanted to do something relevant to the location; so I have chosen to attempt to thwart part of signals intelligence, namely traffic analysis. As it’s often said: any idiot can invent a secure communications system that they cannot themselves break, so I look forward to one-day being told the flaw in this scheme.”

Phil has posted more information about Snique on his blog, including how it works, and has made the client demo available on Github. Phil won an engraved Motorola Xoom 2, donated by HMGCC.

[hr]The Facebook Open Graph Challenge

Facebook Award - photo credit Steve Karmeinsky

The winners of the Facebook Open Graph Challenge were Ali Bros & Dylan Jones for their entry Dude, Where’s My Car?:

“We’re making a web enabled car tracking unit. Using GPS and OBDII interfaces location and engine data are collected and sent to a web server over a 3G link using ARM’s mbed and the Vodafone 3G dongle. Facebook’s open graph is used to share the road trips and tag pictures or friends in each trip. we’re also hoping to use RFID for authentication and a color LCD to deliver a nice user interface to the user. Facebook enabled Android and iOS apps are also developed to provide access to the information on the go.”

Dylan has posted the App here. Ali and Dylan each won a Samsung Galaxy S2 , donated by Facebook

[hr]Honourary Facebook Prize

Kieran Gutteridge and Chris Ross each won a Samsung Galaxy S2 , donated by Facebook, for their “repair” work on the Facebook iOS SDK.  Check out their work on GitHub. (You may also want to check out Chris Banes‘ fixes to the Facebook Android SDK on GitHub)

[hr]The Vodafone Embedded Hardware Hack Challenge

Vodafone award - photo credit Steve Karmeinsky

The winners of  the Vodafone Embedded Hardware Hack Challenge were Ali Bros & Dylan Jones for their entry Dude, Where’s My Car?: “We’re making a web enabled car tracking unit. Using GPS and OBDII interfaces location and engine data are collected and sent to a web server over a 3G link using ARM’s mbed and the Vodafone 3G dongle. Facebook’s open graph is used to share the road trips and tag pictures or friends in each trip. we’re also hoping to use RFID for authentication and a color LCD to deliver a nice user interface to the user. Facebook enabled Android and iOS apps are also developed to provide access to the information on the go.” Dylan has posted the App here. Ali and Dylan each won an HTC 1 X phone, a k3770 modem, a SIM payt 20 credit, and an mbed, donated by Vodafone.


[hr]Dan’s Challenge

Ricardo and Elena receiving the prize from Dan & Lasse of LEGO - Photo credit Martin Cunningham

The winner of Dan’s Challenge was Team ET Bot (Blanca Tortajada, Elena Perez, and Ricardo Varela) for their entry ET Bot:

“We are on to take Dan’s challenge and build something that is a mashup of Social, Space open data and Lego Mindstorms! wohoo!”

Follow the ET Bot on Twitter. The team won a LEGO Mindstorm Kits, donated by LEGO.

Hack Day Awards – part 1

Best Science Hack

Paul Tanner with Jatrobot – photo credit Luis Abreu

The winner of the Best Science Hack award was Team Hyperiron (Hercules Fisherman, Paul Tanner, Sarah Mount & Nikita Korotaev) for their entry Jatrobot:

“In view of impending shortage of food, to build sustainability, we would like to deploy as many sensors as possible to get realtime feedback of plantation and the land they grown on.

We employ various mobile or stationary sensors to collect realtime data to a central server together with historical data that is collected along with other third-party data, such as weather forecasts, to determine or recommend suitable nutritional need at required resolution on the ground.The alerts can be sent via choice of methods SMS, email, twitter or Voxeo.

In time we would have historical analysis of the data where we could compare with other data collected and suggest best course of action, we would also take into account the weather forecasts for instance to plan watering level needed or nutritional values as we are sampling the time and location of the sensor reading this allows us to target more granular level possible. “

Hercules has posted more about Jatrobot on his blog, as has Paul on his blog, and their slides are on Slideshare.
The team won  LEGO Mindstorm Kits, donated by LEGO, and a Nokia Lumia 800, donated by Nokia.

Best User Experience

William & William – photo credit Steve Karmeinsky

The Best User Experience award went to Team Glitch (William Morland ) for his entry Pepin:

“There are glitches in the matrix all around us but so far there is no fun instinctive way to share them. If you see a funked up ATM then of course you want to tell your friends (and possibly the bank) but that isn’t a natural thing for a normal user and it certainly isn’t fun.”

William won a Blackberry PlayBook, donated by Blackberry.


Best use of Open APIs / Open Data

The Best use of Open APIs / Open Data award went to Team Glitch (William Morland ) for his entry Pepin:

“There are glitches in the matrix all around us but so far there is no fun instinctive way to share them. If you see a funked up ATM then of course you want to tell your friends (and possibly the bank) but that isn’t a natural thing for a normal user and it certainly isn’t fun.”

William won a Samsung Galaxy SII, donated by Samsung.

Best Android Entry

There were three winners for the Best Android Entry:

Tom Hume – photo credit Martin Cunningham

Tom Hume for It’s Good to Talk:

Phone calls are more than the sum of their parts: the act of making a call is a demonstration that you’re thinking of someone. Inspired by the Bob Hoskins-voiced BT adverts of the 1980s, this Android app does one very simple thing: whenever you phone one of your Facebook friends, it silently posts posts that fact onto Facebook. It’s either a public declaration of care that goes beyond just clicking “like”, or one step further towards a world without privacy, depending on how you feel about this sort of thing…”

Terence Eden for Bletchley Sonata:

“Music of the spheres – a melodious journey through the environment. A piece of music so sumblime it defies all explanation!”

For samples of the music, listen to Jamillah Knowles’ interview with Terence Eden on the BBC Radio 5 Outriders programme (the last interview on the clip). Team Intohand (Matt Rollings, Tom Durrant, Elliot Long and Kieran Gutteridge) for Live Quiz:

“The idea involves a general quiz game with a twist – it’s not just played in parallel with each person on a phone, but they are playing together, getting each question simultaneously, plus information about how the other players are doing on the same quiz. Entry into the quiz is as simple as scanning a QR code. It is a cross-platform app, running on iPhone, Android Mobile and Android tablet.”

Terence, Tom & Thibaut – photo credit Steve Karmeinsky

Each individual won:


 Best iOS Entry

The Best iOS Award went to Team SDK Dub Remix (Kieran Gutteridge and Chris Ross) for their entry Stop Blocking the Beats:

“Our survey says there is grave situation in the Facebook iOS SDK.  We hunted the native OTA Facebook engineers and once caught, we explained our thoughts in a highly pleasant and structured fashion. Voices were only raised in excitement and jubilation.  The result of the conversation with our now great mates, was a hearty challenge to look into solving some of our grievances. So we did.

Our course of attack was to boldly go, where no developer has gone before, and rewrite the Facebook client SDK for iOS. We have a readme at which details the technical changes we have made. We did see Alice, she sends her regards.”

Kieran and Chris won the O’Reilly books: Programming iOS 5Building iPhone Apps with HTML, CSS and JavaScript , and Learning iOS Programming, donated by O’Reilly Media.


 Best Windows Phone Entry

Team Wendy – photo credit Martin Cunningham

The Best Windows Phone Award went to Team Wendy (Matt O’Keefe, Dexter Dillinger, Laura Sanders, Trent Walton, Claire Scantlebury, and Matt Hunt) for their entry How Many Beers:

“Track what your friends are drinking including measurements and the chosen consuming technique.”

Each team member received a Lumia 800 , donated by Nokia. The winning team also received the books Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Developer GuideProgramming Windows Phone 7 – Silverlight Edition, and Programming Windows Phone 7 – XNA Framework Edition,  Building the Real Time User ExperienceTapworthy, and Gamification by Design, donated by O’Reilly Media.


Best Game Entry

Dom & Heather – photo credit Martin Cunningham

The winner of the Best Game Award was Team Recently Engaged (Dom Hodgson and Heather Burke) for I Hope This Works:

“Conferences, Hack Days, Barcamps and other events where you need to get a bunch of people into a room and tell them to sit quietly whilst someone finds an mac connector for the right model.. no not that mac.. the latest mac.. anyway where was I?

Yes, We’ve built a hack to entertain and provide some must needed distraction for the audience throughout the day. If it actually works…”

Dom and Heather each won a Corona Pro subscription  (a value of $349 per year), donated by Ansca Mobile.

Best Use of Other Features: Bluetooth, NFC, RFID and of course Messaging

The winner of the Best Use of Other Features Awards was  Team Hyperiron (Hercules FishermanPaul TannerSarah Mount & Nikita Korotaev) for their entry Jatrobot (See the Best Science Hack award above for more details.)
Hercules has posted more about Jatrobot on his blog, as has Paul on his blog, and their slides are on Slideshare.
The team won a “Goodie Bag of Geekery”, which included a Crumpler bag, a mifi, a fitbit, solar charger & other small electronic gadgets like headphones, & healthy edibles – all donated by Blue Via.

Best Hardware Hack

Emily – photo credit Steve Karmeinsky

The winners of the Best Hardware Hack award were Team Umbicord (Sandor Toth) for his entry Umbicord:

“This project is a multiple development. Once you install the app on your Andorid phone, you are able to read QR codes. If you read the QR code, activity is generated on your Facebook timeline, and at the same time the server stores your QR code. An embedded controller polls the server via Vodafone 3G and makes your decision live (eg. switch on something).Where can it be successful? On events if you have a tilt with 3 different QR codes, symbolise 3 different activity or product. The visitor scans the QR code, creates social activity for the event and at your stand as well.
and Team Robohack (Emily & George Tilley) for their entry Fred:
“a 12 year old girl showed off her hack that used the light from an iphone to set off a robot to throw items (which amusingly flew into the audience and hit a few prime coders)” – Jamillah Knowles, The Next Web.
Each team member won a LEGO Mindstorm Kit, donated by LEGO, and share the O’Reilly books  Arduino CookbookMaking Things See, Make a Mind-Controlled Arduino RobotEnvironmental Monitoring with Arduino, and Getting Started with .NET Gadgeteer, donated by O’Reilly Media.


Best Mobile Web / HTML5 Entry

The winner of the Best Mobile Web Award was Threedom (Matt Oakes, Rob Douglas & Luis Abreu) for their entry Boot to Threedom:

“Making a simple 3-button interface for B2G”

Read more about the Threedom interface on which this hack was based on the Ribot blog.

 The Team won the O’Reilly books jQuery Mobile,  Mobile Design Pattern Gallery,  Designing Mobile InterfacesHTML5: Up and RunningHTML5 Cookbook, and HTML5 and CSS3, donated by O’Reilly Media.

Best Tablet Entry

The winner of the Best Tablet Award was Team QRtists (Tristan Roddis and Nigel Crawley) for their entry QR Codebreakers:

“Multiplayer game where players scan QR codes to reveal a scrambled word. They must then switch to ‘decypt’ mode and re-scan in the correct order to solve the anagram.”

Tristan and Nigle won the O’Reilly books iPad: The Missing ManualMotorola Xoom: The Missing Manual, and iPad programming , donated by O’Reilly Media.

Media & Blog Coverage of OTA12

Press Coverage

FORBES: Android meets Theremin at Over the Air, by Ewan Spence

“Although I couldn’t attend this month’s Over The Air event at Bletchley Park (previously on Forbes…), it’s always fun to see what madness comes out of such a constructive event. This year was no exception.”

WIRED: We need more smartphone based citizen science, by Olivia Solon.

“We need more mobile or tablet-based citizen science initiatives, argued Francois Grey from the Citizen Cyberscience Centre, speaking at the Over The Air hack day at Bletchley Park.

He explained that distributed computing for scientific research has proven to be incredibly useful across a wide range of study, including particle physics, epidemiology and protein analysis. He added that most citizen science projects have focused on PCs, although smartphones could “do a lot of science” thanks to the number of sensors they have. Grey urged developers at the event to consider collaborating with scientists in creating apps for this purpose.”

THE NEXT WEB: The 5th annual Over the Air event marks the Alan Turing Centenary with creative code, by Jamillah Knowles.

“Over the Air was buzzing. That might have been all the coffee ingested by the sleepless hack teams, but it was also down to the enthusiasm and creativity being shared in such a picturesque location.

Of course we can never be sure, but as the original coders of Bletchley Park were known for their sense of fun as well as their tireless work to change the direction of technology and a war, it’s a fair bet that Alan Turing would approve of an event like Over the Air.”

GIGAOM: Over the Air prepares for a very British hack weekend, by Bobbie Johnson.

“It’s nearly 70 years since England’s Bletchley Park first played host to a gaggle of coders, when a team including computing pioneer Alan Turing got together to crack critical Nazi ciphers in a move that was pivotal in winning the Second World War.”

THE NEXT WEB: Facebook’s “Open Graph Challenge” will give developers 24 hours to hack something awesome, by Drew Olanoff.



The Fonecast:—9th-June-2012.aspx

Outriders on Radio 5: Moscow and Bletchley Park

Tue, 5 Jun 12. This week Jamillah returns from Moscow with news of the Internet there and explores Over the Air’s hack event at Bletchley Park. (Duration: 26 mins)

Download 12MB (right click & “save target as / link as”)

Documentally Interviews:

  • The unstoppable Tweet by Sam Machin
  • Boots to Gecko with CodePo8
  • Matthew Cashmore on five years of Over the Air
  • Facebook in the shadow of the Colossus
  • A chat with Dan Appelquiest of Blue Via
  • Arrived at Over the Air at Bletchley Park


Blog Coverage

InMobi Developer Blog, by Terence Eden

Over the Air 2012, by Terence Eden on his private blog

Mobile Phone Development Blog – Over the Air 2012 , by Simon Judge

Geoff Ballinger on his Visual Graffiti hack in the Hack Day competition

Dexter Dillinger on the Sequence Blog

Video Coverage

We were able to video many of the talks that took place in the Marquee Tent and have posted them to YouTube. (Check out video coverage captured by the community as well)

Over The air 2012 Closing Keynote, Francois Grey: ‘Citizen Science to Open Science – The Road Ahead’



Over The Air 2012 Hack Day Awards: Hack Day awards from the 2012 ‘Over The Air’ event at Bletchley Park

Over The Air 2012. Opening Keynote, Ariel Waldman: ‘Hacking Science and Space Exploration’



Simon Howard, Blackberry: ‘Embrace the out-of-the-box elegance: eye candy UI with zero effort’

Saul Zakauskas, Paypal: ‘How are Mobile Payment Innovations Disrupting Commerce?’

Hadley Beeman, UK Technology Strategy Board: ‘Introducing the Open Data Institute’

Chris Styles, ARM: ‘Cloud Development with Embedded Controllers and connecting to Wide Area Networks’

Bruce Lawson, Opera Software: ‘Responsive Web Design – The Specs behind the Sex’

Simon Cross, Facebook: Facebook Open Graph: From Zero to Hero in 60 minutes’

Mo McRoberts, BBC: ‘The Space: Building a Broadcaster in a Box’

Kevin S Prince and Sam Machin, 02’s ‘The Lab’: ‘The Lab: Demo Cool Things’

Christian Heilman, Mozilla: If mobiles dont come to the web then the web must come to mobiles’

Made with Marmalade’s coverage of the event on YouTube.

Photo Coverage

Bill Thomson posted some pics to The Bill Blog:

The #ota12 collection on Instagram

Today’s Round-up from our Citizen Journalist

This year we have invited long-time Over the Air attendee “Phone Fighter” and “Teen Dragon” Peter Price to be our Citizen Journalist and give us the word from the ground.

Peter started off his journalistic duties by interviewing our Keynote speaker Ariel Waldman:

After Ariel Waldman’s awesome (official description) talk we took a moment to talk some more on various questions that you the reader deserve to hear the answers to.  First of all we have her assurance that the moon landing actually did happen, so myth busted.

Through the short interview it was very clear how important Ariel believes events such as OTA are, playing part to the renaissance of science and technology that she sees happening in this decade. She sees the role of the general public very large in this wildfire of progress and development and emphasises the need for both science projects with obvious end goals – such as landing on the moon – but also projects with no clear purpose – such as a gimp mask you can wear in which you can feel light.

No matter how random it is it’s all technological and scientific development. So remember that on hack day. Thanks Ariel for your time, and lets all make OTA 2012 is the best one yet.

First up, Peter’s report of Bruce Lawson’s Session:

In watching Bruce Lawson’s ‘Responsive Web Design – the specs before sex’, I felt a complete neanderthal in this area, at many times confused and I always feel awed by those around me who understand coding and resolution. But Bruce’s funny and informative talk makes some sense of something I see like the enigma which the code breakers at Bletchley had to solve.

He gave me a good picture of the alarmingly fast rate of innovation in the area of responsive web design. The things that I take for granted such as the format of the websites I browse on my newly obtained free I-pad (thanks OTA!), and explained the colour and sizings of them in all its extreme complication and insanity. This talk is evidence of the science and technology renaissance that Ariel told us of. Updates, tweeks and improvements come in constantly at a rapid rate, some of which I hope will be created through this great event.

Peter’ also sat in on Kevin Prince and Sam Machin’s session:

‘TheLab: Demo Cool Things’ was a fascinating look into ‘the lab’-  a creative development group working for O2. Creating various interesting and of course cool things such as an app that allows individuals to see which place around the world is the most popular through collection of dialling code data. In their own words they’re like a hack day everyday creating various innovative apps, working on the foundation of the phrase ‘get excited and make things happen’, and perfectly fitting into the ethos of Over the Air. Keep up the good work!

Peter then joined one of PJ Evans’ tours of Bletchley Park:

The story of Bletchley Park is one of secrecy, espionage and innovation. On the Bletchley Park Tour we enter what many would call a geek heaven. I don’t know what’s better – the enigma machine, the replicas of the Bombe, or the first ever computer. Lead by Paul Evans our guide, we are brought to the replica of the Bombe. Unfortunately all were destroyed by order of Churchill, as our guide said “it is better for secrets to not even exist then keep them”.

This machine was used to crack the Nazi codes vital to success on the Western Front and of course the Enigma Machine and the ‘Colossus’ computer which made computer technology as we know it today possible. I leave this guide with knowledge of many things, including that the odds of getting the code right with the Bombe was 138 trillion to one, and that there is a large pile of cups at the bottom of the lake left by a disgruntled code breaker. I strongly recommend that all OTAers check out the museum, there shall be live code breaking tomorrow using the replica Bombe it’s something that all geeks cannot miss.

Peter helped us close off the day with an excellent Ignite Talk on the use of mobile & social tools to empower youth engagement and political activism – but more on that in a future post!