Thank-you to our Sponsors

Over the Air would not be possible without the generous support of the companies and organisations who get what we do – and more importantly, what the community of participants does. It’s an important feature of Over the Air that it is FREE for all to attend – no conference budget or deep pockets required.  And that’s only possible with the support of the fantastic organisations below.


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We were thrilled to receive the support of the BBC at OTA15, with teams from BBC Digital, Make It Digital, BBC micro:bit, BBC Connected Studio & BBC Taster.

Read more about the teams from the BBC who joined us.

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Silver Sponsor – Microsoft

MSFT_logo_rgb_C-Gray_DMicrosoft is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, a growing collection of integrated services – analytics, computing, database, mobile, networking, storage and web – enabling developers, IT and data professionals to move faster, achieve more, save money and innovate. Microsoft Azure is easy-to-use, pay-as-you-go, and scales as you need with cross-platform support. Windows 10 is enterprise-ready, Maker-friendly, powering a broad range of devices with over 20 years of history in the embedded device space. Follow them @msdevuk.

Silver Sponsor – Just Giving

just-giving-logoPowering the #apps4good movement, the JustGiving platform helps not-for-profit organisations, brands and a growing community of developers to build applications that harness the power of online giving. Apps like these drive thousands of transactions on JustGiving every day, helping people around the world to make good things happen. Follow them on Twitter at @jghackers.


Silver Sponsor – The Citizen Cyberlab

CCLlogoThe Citizen Cyberlab is a consortium of several Universities (UCL, Imperial, University of Geneva & University Paris Descartes) + CERN + UNITAR + The Mobile Collective. Together we are building digital tools and platforms for Citizen Science. Follow them on Twitter at @citizencyberlab.


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Event Sponsor – Google

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Our company has packed a lot into a relatively young life. Since Google was founded in 1998, we’ve grown to serve millions of people around the world. Find out more about our products for developers at


Event Sponsor – Twitter

Twitter_logo_blueTwitter was born on mobile, and we know what it takes to design, release, and grow a great mobile app. Twitter recently announced Fabric, a modular mobile platform which makes it easy for developers to build the best apps. Fabric combines the services of Crashlytics, MoPub, Twitter and others to address some of the most common and pervasive challenges that all app developers face: stability, distribution, revenue and identity. Find out more about our products for developers at:


Event Sponsor – MediaTek Labs

MediaTekLabsOrangeVerticalRGBMediaTek Labs is the developer hub for wearable and IoT Innovation, providing the platforms, tools, documentation, technical and business support to create your own devices powered by MediaTek chipsets. From smart light bulbs to the next-generation fitness tracker and the exciting world of the smart watch, make your journey with our help.

And last, but not least:

Bean Bag Sponsor – Mozilla

firefox-developer_logo-wordmark_RGB-300dpiBuilt for those who build the Web. Firefox Developer Edition brings your core dev tools together with some powerful new ones that will extend your ability to work across multiple platforms from one place. It’s everything you’re used to, only better. And only from Firefox. Find out more at

Friday Dinner Sponsor – Braintree

BraintreeBraintree’s global platform powers payments for thousands of online and mobile commerce innovators including Airbnb, Uber and GitHub. Merchants in more than 45 countries across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia can accept payments in more than 130 currencies. Braintree’s SDK, featuring One Touch™, powers single-click purchasing with PayPal, Apple Pay, credit/debit cards, and Bitcoin. To learn more, visit Braintree at and on Twitter @braintree.

Soft Drinks Sponsor – SAP Devs

SAP-LogoFounded by 5 maverick developers, SAP is a market leader in enterprise application software. The company offers open platforms and technologies for you to build, deploy and manage enterprise applications. To get started and to learn more, visit Follow the team at @SAPdevs.




An Interview with Elena, Mike & Lee at Microsoft

We have asked a number of our Supporters and Sponsors about why they get involved in Hack Days, price their views on innovation, buy | and what they are excited about in the technology MSFT_logo_rgb_C-Gray_Dindustry.

Today we’re hearing from:

  • Elena Branet, Internet of Things and Data audience evangelism lead
  • Mike Taulty, Microsoft Technical Evangelist
  • Lee Stott, Microsoft Technical Evangelist


1. Why do you get involved in Hack Days? 

“We believe some of the best innovations are born as a result of people getting together to connect, share, test concepts, and build on each other’s work. It is amazing to see how quickly teams can solve complex problems with collective intelligence and resources. We love the creative process and exchange that takes place during hackathons, and we want to help people use technology and tools to do great things.”


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

“Absolutely. Listening to the needs of the community – from developers and students, to startups and enterprise — is a critical part of our product development and feedback process. We take feedback into product teams and requirements are prioritized on a regular basis. The Microsoft Azure cloud platform was built with openness in mind, and the cross platform editing capabilities we’ve built with Visual Studio Code are both great examples of how we have evolved our platform to support the needs of people who build software and services.”


3. What are your own internal approaches to Innovation?

[MT] “Microsoft definitely believes in the ‘hack’ approach to innovation and you’d see this in our ‘OneWeek’ initiative which happens each year and includes a global, company-wide hackathon across all roles. This isn’t the only time that the company hacks in the course of a year but it’s certainly one of the biggest hacks that we know of, and employees are encouraged to take some of the biggest code-bases out there and like Windows/Office/Bing and push them in new directions. We’re also involved in tonnes of hacks in the developer communities worldwide each year. We like to hack!”


4. What role can mobile developers play in both the future of the mobile industry, and emerging industries such as IoT and wearables?

[MT] “Mobile developers are key for helping to develop and evolve IoT and wearables. Firstly, mobile developers are very used to running in environments where you’re running code directly on a device that may have limited hardware or a security-sandboxed app model. They’re also used to reaching out across networks from their mobile apps to access remote data services. They’re thinking about the identity that needs to flow to those services and the management that needs to be done around mobile devices and apps. At Microsoft, you could say that we implicitly recognise this by having a Universal platform that runs mobile devices but also IoT devices so in that sense a mobile developer *is* an IoT developer.”


5. Do you have a view on where the next big opportunities will lie for developers?

[MT] “Everywhere. For the longest time we’ve said that the ‘world runs on software’ and that’s accelerating. We see opportunities in providing a user with an experience that is tailored to them, their device and their current context, is increasingly personal and intelligent and which is available to them everywhere. That implies opportunities everywhere from devices to cloud-based intelligence. There’s never been a lower barrier to entry to building on today’s devices + cloud to make a business that can scale from 1 user to 1 billion users. It’s an amazing time to be a developer.”

[LS] “We also see the next big opportunities coming from Data Insights. All organisation are now looking at ways in which they can speed up the access and time to analyse all types of data. Data is key for organisations to make better decisions, and they can do this faster now thanks to the cloud and services from machine learning analyse the data . Tools like Office Delve are a perfect example of the Office and Data opportunity. Office Delve surfaces personalised content to you from across a user’s Office usage. With the Office Graph, Delve brings you information based on what you and what you are working on, who you’re working with.”


6. Tell us about some of your own new products and / or services that you are excited about.

[MT]. “We’re seeing a lot of innovation around making computing more personal. We see this in seemingly simple ways in that we can increasingly talk to our devices via technologies like Cortana. We can log into our devices securely using facial recognition with technologies like ‘Windows Hello’ and cameras like Intel’s RealSense which also allows us to take detailed control of our devices through (e.g.) hand based gestures. Then we see some of those technologies moving to the next level through a device like the HoloLens which combines gesture, gaze, speech with augmented reality 3D output. It’s hard not to be excited about those kinds of devices and where we’re going as an industry.”


7. How would you like to invite the attendees of Over the Air to get involved with your organisation?

We invite attendees to join the talks and workshop sessions to learn more and are happy to help support projects of developers and makers:

Startups that are building for IoT and Data can apply until 30th Sept for our IoT & Data Innovation Programme to get $120k free Azure cloud, plus tech advisory and more at

Connections away at OTA – IoT developer t-shirts, HDKs and more.

Greetings from the MediaTek Team


MediaTekLabsOrangeVerticalRGBPhil, malady Marysia and I from MediaTek Labs can’t wait for Over the Air at the end of this week – it’s our first time at the show and we are looking forward to meeting you all.
MediaTek Labs is a free online community of IoT developers and device makers found at MediaTek Labs is the home of MediaTek LinkIt™, price some of the world’s best connected platforms for Wearable and IoT devices. With our development tools you can create devices that can connect to other devices or directly to cloud applications and services. The LinkIt platforms consist of Software Development Kits (SDKs), Hardware Development Kits (HDKs) and related technical documentation.

We have a session on Friday afternoon at 5pm – Build your own IoT and Wearable device with a development board from MediaTek Labs – where you can learn all about MediaTek LinkIt™ ONE, the development platform that enables developers to create Wearables and IoT proofs-of-concept with the simplicity of the Arduino IDE and Seeed Studio Grove peripherals.

linkitoneAt the end of the session we will have some LinkIt ONE boards for you to borrow for the 2 days so get hacking and enter the Best Hardware IoT hack – there are 5 LinkIt ONE boards for the winning team.

You could then enter what you have achieved at Over the Air in the challenge to win even bigger prizes including iPads and TVs –

Want a free t-shirt?

IMG_20150907_160704We have a load of developer t-shirts to give away:

To get a free t-shirt, follow @MediaTek Labs on Twitter, sign up for free as a member on, and then find either Michael, Phil or Marysia at the show to claim and wear with pride!

See you all on Friday.

Michael Francis, Developer Marketing Manager, MediaTek Labs.



Our Interviews with Women in Tech at the BBC

bbc-blocksWe had the honour of speaking with a number of women with technology-related careers at the BBC about their career paths, and what they are excited about in their current roles.

Here’s what they had to say:

The Podcast Interviewees:

Lesley Mearns is a Programmes Business Analyst at the BBC, which is a Business role; Lia Vipulananthan is an Operations Shift Leader in the 24×7 Team and has 14 years experience supporting all the BBC digital content; and Rosie Campbell is a Technologist in the the R&D North Lab & North UX Research Group.

Rosie is working on the intersection of TV and games – with iPlayer, broadcasting can become interactive – what new kinds of experiences can we create that mix BBC storytelling with real-time rendering? She also recently worked on Smart Wallpaper, where she made an immersive ‘hide and seek’ game and accompanying android app. CBeebies characters hide on the walls, and children use their phone’s camera to ‘detect’ (seek) them.


Women in Technology at the BBC

Interview with Carrie Hall, Software Engineer in the  TV & Mobile Platforms – Radio & Music Group.


I’m Carrie Hall. I’m 27, I’ve been at the BBC for two and a half years and I work as a software engineer on the iPlayer Radio mobile application for Android and iOS.

How did you first get interested in a career in technology? 

I played a lot of computer games when I was younger, and my older brother was into technology so we had a desktop computer and a few consoles which I used to use. I made my first website when I was about 14, in HTML, and attempted to make a few flash games. However at school I preferred other subjects such as English, but still did Computing as an A level and it was when it came time to choose my degree that I decided to follow a career in technology, as there was a lot of interest at the time in websites and web applications, which is where I saw myself working.

What was your career path to this role, and did you have role models & mentors along the way? 

I studied IT at GSCE, then Computing at A Level. My degree was Internet Computing at the University of Manchester, which at the time was mostly Computer Science but with some extra modules in web technologies. I spent one year in industry between my second and final year, where I was working as a software engineer. At this point I was mostly a Java and web developer, then I learned Android to complete my third year project and really enjoyed it. After Uni I took some time out to travel then worked as an Android engineer for a year before getting my current role at the BBC. My biggest role model is probably my older brother, he’s always been excited by learning new things, whether that’s technology or otherwise, and it’s very infectious. He’s always pushed me in my career and encouraged me when I’ve been unsure about my own skills.

What do you find exciting about your current role, and how do you strike your own work / life balance? 

At the BBC there is a real focus around building apps that people love, rather than churning out apps to make money. I love working on the same product and seeing it constantly improve as we add new features. We also have the benefit of being able to reach a massive amount of users which really pushes you to make sure that what you’re doing is right and is going to work across all devices, which on Android can be challenging at times. At the moment, striking a work/life balance is fairly easy as I don’t have to take my work home with me, however as a software engineer I do work on my own projects at home to refresh my skills and learn new technologies.


Extended Interview with Lia Vipulananthan, Operations Shift Leader in the 24×7 Team

Questions asked by members of the Ada’s Community

How did you first get interested in a career in technology?

I was the person in our household who took apart the broken VHS recorder and put it back together having four extra screws left over. My father was a Chemistry and Biology teacher, my mother a nurse so our household was always more science than arts based.

A chance encounter with a BBC Micro brought home for the summer holidays by my father from his school prompted a lifelong obsession with fixing broken things and finding ways to make things run smoother.


What was your career path to this role, and did you have role models & mentors along the way?

Material Engineering at Uni to a computer sales job to a Helpdesk role to Operations with a good helping of fixing other peoples broken computers. My role model was Sarah, my first boss here at the BBC who hugged me my first day and said thank you, there’s now another woman on the team. She encouraged me to look for roles outside of my team, mentored and counselled me on how to further my career and explained the mistakes she had made in order that I could learn from them. Also my father encouraged me to do the best that I could and to takes risks and above all keep learning.


What do you find exciting about your current role, and how do you strike your own work / life balance?

In my current role I have a chance to be proactive and fix things before they break rather than the opposite and be reactively fixing issues. BBC Digital has over 800 products and talking to the programmers and architects always makes me reason how wonderfully creative the teams are.

My concession to a work / life balance is that I do not take my mobile to the bedroom and spend times doing hobbies that do not require a power outlet such as crocheting and cycling, reading and diving. If I am anywhere near a computer or phone, I end up checking work email and answering them and retrying to resolve issues when I should be switched off from work.


What changes would you make to your current job to enable a better work/life balance?
Not look at phone for the days I am not on call


Did you encounter problems returning to work following having children/maternity leave in terms of work/life balance, childcare, flexibility.

I cannot answer for myself but I do know people when I first started at the BBC who encountered issues, however now the managers and departments are much more flexible. I believe the ubiquitousness of broadband is the main reason, when I started they were still putting in ISDN lines for the work from home staff. Now there are not enough seats in the building for all the staff with the assumption of many people will work to work from home. Also the BBC have made it much easier to use your own equipment to work with use of certificates for whitelist access and use of mobile messaging apps such as Good to receive work emails.


Were you happy returning to the same role or would you have preferred to have returned to something less demanding on your brain/body/time (I hope that doesn’t appear patronising – I ask because a number of female developers I’ve spoken to have told me that they would prefer something simpler/less technical and/or more creative following maternity leave).

I cannot answer for myself, two of the ladies I have worked with who went on maternity leave, came back to less demanding roles and were quite frankly over qualified for the roles they settled into. However both needed the freedom to not have to worry about work and not have too much of a demand on their time and brain. The other lady went on to manage large project and do very well for herself. It is a balance and I think your partners support matters the most.

For the two ladies who downgraded their jobs, they were not supported in childcare or household chores from their partner so had to take on the full responsibility on top of a normal workload (both husbands expected their dinner on the table when they got in despites the ladies working a full day’s work and taking the children to and from nursery / school).

For the lady who did not let having children make a difference to her role, her husband was both very supportive and understanding of his wife’s job and the fact that he needed to step in and should his share of the chores.

Did you feel worried about returning to work due to the speed technology evolves and your skills being out of date?

I cannot answer for myself but I know a lot of the ladies used to feel this way. Staying in regular touch with your manager and colleagues, coming in to show off the new offspring keeps you in touch with your team and they never need an excuse to keep you updated with what is happening and allowed you to assess what is going on. 


How long did you take off after having children before returning to work, was that influenced by work and would you have preferred it to be longer/shorter?

I cannot answer for myself but most ladies I have worked with wanted to come back later (longer than a year) but felt pressured to come back to keep their job.


What’s the hardest problem you ever solved in this role?
People. One was a shift partner that was utterly useless and did no work. A second was someone I could see within a month had the ability but no work ethic. In both cases, I was too scared to put a formal complaint into my boss. In the end, both people were sacked from the team on the basis of other peoples complaints (from outside the team).


What’s a mistake you made in this role, and how did you overcome it?

Not being more forceful and standing up for myself specifically letting someone else take credit for my ideas and being too timid to demand recognition from the department.


Is there scope within their role to initiate projects? Are they creatively fulfilled at the BBC?

Yes and yes but its knowing the right people. If you network and talk to people and ask them what you are working on, you find out about all these amazing things we do at the BBC. But it is not communicated out very well. There are initiatives to promote this within teams such as 10% time.

You can use 10% of your time to work on your ideas – anything goes as long as it has something to do with our work. More details on the BBC Blog here


Do you feel you are recognised for what you do on an equal footing? Can your voice be heard?

Yes and yes but you have to be forceful and project your voice in the room full of men and large personalities. You have to be concise and knowledgeable and above all be practiced in asking for the recognition.


What do you think is the number one top most important skill for your role, and what are the things that you do to keep learning it and getting better at it?

Women are better at the people and personal skills. See . Vanessa Vallely from is a great speaker and has a very relatable story to tell about being a woman in technology. (She has spoken at a BBC organised event that I attended)


What do you perceive as being the biggest barrier for women entering the tech industry and what are your ideas to overcome these?’

Ourselves. My physics teach told me I would fail Physics because girls generally do. I believed him rather than myself. Spend time talking to other women about their experiences and you will see a common thread in all their stories.


The CCL Citizen Science Challenge

CCLlogoCitizen Science is real science done collaboratively by amateurs, volunteers, and enthusiasts around the globe. People are classifying galaxies from their computers, monitoring the health of trees in their community, transcribing weather reports from old naval logs, and gathering data to make a real contribution to scientific research. One emerging branch dubbed “Extreme Citizen Science provides tools that can be used by any individual, regardless of their level of literacy, to collect, analyse and act on information by using established scientific methods. This allows any community to start a Citizen Science project to deal with the issues that concern them – from biodiversity to food production, involving
communities from
housing estates in London to hunter-gatherers and forest villagers in the Congo Basin.

The Brief:

Build a citizen science hack using mobile technology. Anything goes—mobile phones, sensors, wearables, outdoor monitoring stations, balloons, drones…

If you need data, London Air data download is a good place to start

If you need inspiration, check out the wide range of Citizen Science projects listed on SciStarter.

To learn more about Citizen Science, open platforms and tools that are available, and some examples for inspiration, join us on Friday at 12:15 in the Crypt.

CCL PrizeThe Prizes

A LilyPad Starter Kit as 1st Prize, and 4 Espruino Pico’s as 2nd Prizes.


About the Citizen Cyberlab

The Citizen Cyberlab is a consortium of several Universities (UCL, Imperial, University of Geneva & University Paris Descartes) + CERN + UNITAR + The Mobile Collective. Together we are building digital tools and platforms for Citizen Science. Follow us on Twitter at@citizencyberlab.

To find out more about the tools and platforms we’ve been building for Citizen Science, join us on Saturday at 9:30 in the Anteroom.

The JustGiving Charity Challenge

just-giving-logoPowering the #tech4good movement, the JustGiving platform helps not-for-profit organisations, brands and a growing community of developers to build applications that harness the power of online giving. Apps like these drive thousands of transactions on JustGiving every day, helping people around the world to make good things happen.

The Brief:

Use the JustGiving APIs in a creative or engaging way to the benefit of this year’s OTA15 Charity – the St. John’s Hoxton Fund.

With more and more people relying upon their mobile device we’re looking for exciting and innovative ways to “give” or “support” a cause in new ways and new spaces. To support this the JustGiving API allows you to:

  • Get latest donations made to a charity
  • Get data regarding the charity (activity, description, logo, SMS codes, etc)
  • Create a leaderboard of fundraisers
  • Get Donation details for fundraising pages

Whether it’s a Spotify app that asks makes people “donate” for their cheesy song of choice or an app that recognises charity logos on the go, the world of giving on the go is changing rapidly and it’s the growing #tech4good community that are best placed to build and launch the next great idea. If for example you want to use donations as a means of unlocking rewards then we also have the Simple Donation Integration service that allows users to construct bespoke donation links.

What We’re Looking For:

In short on the day we’re looking for hacks that make the best or most innovative use of our technology. Feel free to forget the business plan or the glossy market strategy, just show us the tech!

41bv+eCMivLThe Prizes:

For the winning team we have a set of Arduino Starter Kits as prizes, and of course throughout the event our JG Hackers team will be on hand to support and coach you as you get stuck into our APIs! We look forward to working with you.


The BBC Connected Studio Challenge

As well as having a range of general Hack Day Categories, patient we also always have a number of featured Hack Day Challenges, salve that are brought to you by the organisations and companies that make the whole event possible.

This year we are pleased to share with you the BBC Connected Studio Challenge

The BBC Connected Studio Challenge: Mobile Personalisation & Immersion


About BBC Connected Studio

BBC Connected StudioConnected Studio is challenged with driving digital innovation across the BBC. With audience needs at the forefront of development, Connected Studio devises work programmes and events that lead to the production of innovative digital pilots. These programmes include workshops and creative sessions designed to guide people through the digital idea-generation process, before further support is provided to develop selected projects into pilots. Working with teams from across the BBC and external digital agencies, Connected Studio and its innovation network – as part of R&D – provide the inspiration, support and platform to help keep the BBC at the cutting edge of digital innovation, and a world leader at delivering engaging digital storytelling experiences.


The aim of this Challenge for the BBC

We’re looking for innovative new ways to serve a younger audience on the devices they spend the most time with; their smartphones. We want to do this through clever use of tech, design and editorial direction around our content and public service remit. We want to build on and extend the BBC’s unique and unrivalled content experiences, from our unique music output and world-class drama, to our well-loved soaps, unrivalled sports coverage and essential learning experiences.

We know we create some of the best-in-class linear experiences. We also want to ensure that the same applies to our smartphone, digital ones.

The aim of this Challenge for hackers

To tackle one of the following challenges during the two days of OTA15 to produce a prototype

Challenge 1: Personalised Experiences

How can we use what we know about people’s everyday digital life (where they are, what time of day it is, what language they speak, motion sensors etc) to deliver personalised, immediate and interactive experiences with the BBC via a person’s phone? How can we use data-driven design to create intelligent News recommendations? (see below for further background)

Challenge 2: Immersive Experiences

How can we offer immersive, VR/AR-like experiences to people that feel personal and interactive? What might such an experience look like? (see below for further background)

What we’re looking for?

BBC Connected Studio has the remit to innovate, pilot, and test new digital ideas for the BBC in new ways. We want to offer the opportunity to take the best ideas to get them further developed by our experts and even funded, made, and showcased on BBC Taster.

About BBC Taster

Taster-256x256BBC Taster is the public-facing platform which asks our audience to try experimental ideas from across the BBC. It was built and is run through Connected Studio and is a website that invites audiences to try, rate and share the latest digital pilots from across the BBC, showcasing a range of digital innovation tools, techniques and content. Pilots that have been developed through the Connected Studio process are tested using this platform.

What’s in it for you?

We’ll provide expertise to help shape the best ideas with the teams, and get them into a ‘ready state’ for submission to our pilot process. If selected against judging criteria success will see ideas funded to make a live pilot on BBC Taster and tested with our audiences.


Find out more at the BBC Connected Studio Workshop Session

Friday 25th September, 2015 – 12:15pm to 1:15pm in Marquee 1.

Further Background to the Challenges


Challenge 1 – Further Background

Within a smartphone, there’s lots of data that allow us to enhance people’s experience of content or to bring stories to life. We’re interested in how we can harness that information to make News more seamless, relevant and unique for the end users.

  • For example think of a location context – what might an experience look like on a commute to work, rather than sitting back on the sofa watching the TV
  • How might the time of the day inform how we consume content on a mobile?
  • Maybe smartphone peripherals like wearable tech could produce different experiences to enhance content
  • Could native functionality provide different context for consuming BBC News content?
  • What impact does location have on the relevance of Breaking News?


Challenge 2 – Further Background

We have seen developments in 360 filming, and games engine driven immersive experiences. These give people new ways to watch, participate and interact with the world – a more human perspective. We would like to see how these experiences might be made more personal. What might people experience from us that they would be compelled to talk about to their friends?

  • VR/AR experience is often seen as solo – how might these experiences become social or have multiple participants?
  • If one person is experiencing VR/AR what are others doing in the real world
  • Cooperative gaming is established – how might VR/AR build upon this? What would be the VR/AR version of cooperative gaming be?

NB: To partake in this challenge you should ensure you have the relevant equipment to test and show your ideas at the hack.

Tools for the Challenges


Hack The Juicer

Hack The Juicer – from BBC Newslabs is a news aggregation and content extraction API. It takes articles from the BBC and other news sites, automatically parses them and (based on their content) tags them with related DBpedia entities.

The entities are grouped in four categories: People, Places, Organisations and Things (everything that doesn’t fall in the first three).

We’ve provided an OTA15 specific event page and API for use within your hack

NB: This API must only be used for R&D and Education. It cannot be used for commercial or commercial promotion purposes.

Useful audience background

The audience we’re targeting is 16-34

  • 98% own a smartphone
  • On average, they share six pieces of content a day on social media
  • They spend up to 14 hours per day consuming media, across several devices
  • This audience tell us their main reasons for using the Internet are emotional (to relax, to feel better), to connect with others, to get better choice over what they watch, and for pure entertainment. The searching/transacting nature of the Internet is taken for-granted nowadays, and we are seeing an increase in more media-related several devices
  • This audience tells us they expect content online to feel immediate, interactive, offer an irreverent take and feel individual

Microsoft and BBC Help Kids to Get Creative with BBC micro:bit

Microsoft rallies UK developers to help kids code with micro devices.

On 25th September, Microsoft is launching an initiative to engage developers across the UK in helping kids learn to connect with devices and code with the BBC micro:bit.  The programme will start in London at Over the Air – where BBC micro:bit learning workshops will take place.



Developers and Makers at the Over the Air event, who share a passion for technology and for helping others in the community, are invited to join with Microsoft Technical Evangelists to support the Coder Dojo event on 26thSeptember, where kids will bring their ideas to life, and learn to code with TouchDevelop and the BBC micro:bit.  Kids will have an opportunity to show their creations on stage during the afternoon, alongside other developers and Makers from the Over the Air Hack Day.

After the event, the role of these newly trained community advocates will be to help inspire kids in their own communities and support workshops for the BBC micro:bit later in the year, when they will be rolled out across the UK to help every child in Year 7 to learn computer science.  These community advocates will encourage kids to participate in a variety of simple coding challenges and games such as building a Minecraft Creeper Face, a digital pet, an LED emoji, and more using the BBC micro:bit.

  • Howard Baker, “Father” of the BBC micro:bit will tell about it’s making during his Keynote Talk on Friday morning at 10:00
  • Microsoft will be teaching you how to Teach Kids to Code with the BBC micro:bit and TouchDevelop on Friday evening at 17:00
  • CoderDojo will be running a workshop that includes the BBC micro:bit and TouchDevelop on Saturday morning at 9:00 (Registration for this is separate – please check your inboxes for the e-mail with the direct link)

An Interview with Jamie Parkins, JustGiving

jamie_parkinsWe have asked a number of our Supporters and Sponsors about why they get involved in Hack Days, here their views on innovation, and what they are excited about in the technology industry. Today we’re hearing from Jamie Parkins, Product Manager at JustGiving. 

Why do you get involved in Hack Days?

“As an organisation, JustGiving is very keen to encourage and be a prominent voice in the #Tech4Good movement. We know that amazing people can build amazing things that will mean no cause around the world goes unfunded. That matches our company’s goal and so it is only natural that we will achieve this through both our website and by also empowering others to develop alongside our platform. Attending, running and supporting hacks is a natural extension of this as this is where the grass roots really flourish. In addition people are often surprised that we are a platform that offers such functionality so its always good to be out there reminding them  particularly given the altruistic nature of so many hackathons.” 

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

“Very much so. Since launching our Consumer API over three years ago we have supported numerous events in an aim to add value on the day and to drive awareness of what can be done with the JustGiving platform. An added benefit of being present at hackathons is that you get to see your product used in earnest as well as celebrated and often questioned. Seeing your service used by developers on the fly quickly highlights either end points you’re lacking or areas where perhaps you are not providing sufficient documented support. Our new oAuth service came as a direct result of our time spent at hacks this year around the world witnessing people struggling to authenticate users quickly in order to build their app in a very limited time frame. “

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 internal approaches to Innovation?

“At JustGiving we’ve taken a number of steps that we think will help nurture an innovative environment. From physically moving to a more open plan office that discourages meetings in tucked away rooms and steers people towards open and collaborative spaces to structuring our software team into a delivery team, we are always looking at how we can be better in our day to day operations. A recent move to a micro service approach means we can build and ship quicker than ever before which naturally gives us more scope to test and learn quicker than ever before. If that’s “tinkering” in a lean style then I’m confident the net result is a greater set of innovative products for our users to benefit from. We’ve also experimented with running internal hack days to test new ideas, to broaden our horizons and to also “breathe” a little in what we all know is an ever changing technical landscape. “

Do you have a view on where the next big opportunities will lie for developers?

“Firstly I think the big opportunities will have an even greater chance of being fulfilled when we as service providers make life as easy as possible for developers. Whilst the likes of Twilio and SendGrid really lead by example, better documentation, faster times to Hello World, more plug and points of integration with the likes of IFTTT or Zapier and more consistency in API frameworks and policy can only remove the barriers to entry. Lower the friction and get out of people’s way in short! As for new opportunities in the world of JustGiving were fascinated with wearables and how people can harness the sheer wealth of data these devices are generating for good. How can lots of people walking 10,000 steps every day or a community of cyclists achieving new PBs ultimately help a cancer charity achieve their goals? Thats an interesting one to unpick for sure. And then theres your mobile device. As it becomes our beacon, our wallet, our quantified self as well as a device for communicating how does giving become an integral part of the mobile experience. We have teams looking at that as well as a growing number of partners that want to bring the two together. Exciting times. “


Tell us about some of your own new products and / or services that you are excited about.

“Our oAuth service I think will be a game changer for our community – new and existing. It means you can create and authenticate users quicker than ever and it makes JustGiving do the hard work, not the developer. That’s the way services should be. Friction free where possible.
To date the most popular use of our API has been for charity organisations to create fundraising pages for their supporters. That plays into the JustGiving business model nicely but when we take the API outside of the third sector, things get interesting. It’s amazing in how many spaces people want to generate generosity, or giving in their application or website.
Our aim to is to provide the transaction engine for facilitating that – and ideally through our API or Simple Donation Integration service. Just a few months ago British Summer Time Gigs ran a “donate to get a ticket” promotion for their Hyde Park Blur and Kylie gigs. It was great to see our platform used to process donations rapidly over a very short time frame (the word quickly got out on social media). JustGiving is not a ticketing site and the client was not a donation platform but together we were able to integrate and raise just under £50k in 4 hours. That’s the power of a platform approach. 
Coming up fast on the rails is live gaming. Twitch has made it so easy for people to broadcast their gaming and their numbers are just insane! And with any community like this you’ll find people that want to do good. The rise of the charity gaming marathon is getting a new lease of life thanks to Twitch and so we’re certainly interested in ways that third parties can join the dots between the streaming platform and JustGiving. “

How would you like to invite the attendees of Over the Air to get involved with your organisation?

“We often see developers try and create a giving mechanic that utilises our platform. Whether that’s someone using our search APIs to offer choice and discoverability or if its the Simple Donation Integration service to create donations that unlock “value” or “rewards”, we’re confident you can build tech4good over the course of a 24 hour marathon. To that end, our team of developers will be present to support, help and coach you. To give you some focus Over The Air have also selected a particular local cause that they would like any funds to go towards and to acknowledge what we deem the best use of JustGiving we’ll be awarding a set of Aurdinos as team prizes. We truly look look forward to seeing what you come up with. 
To get a head start check out our Developer Docs or follow us on twitter. Our Developer Evangelist Pawel will also be running a workshop session entitled “Mmmmm Dog Food: Making your APIs a First Class Citizen” which we’d love to see you at. “

An Interview with Toby Mildon, BBC Digital


Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 21.54.22We have asked a number of our Supporters and Sponsors about why they get involved in Hack Days, their views on innovation, and what they are excited about in the technology industry.

Today we’re hearing from Toby Mildon, Diversity and Inclusion Manager for BBC Digital. (You can also Listen to the personal development talks that he organises for BBC staff.)


1. Why do you get involved in Hack Days?

“Besides being a fun way to innovate and share (both crucial for the BBC) we are supporting OTA because of its good gender balance. Since one of our objectives is to employ more women in technical jobs, we feel it’s a good platform to show that we’re an inclusive employer and meet talented people”


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

“I’m sure that my BBC colleagues in attendance will relish from sharing, learning and developing alongside such a great crowd over the weekend and bring really cool ideas back to the office the following Monday.”


3. What are your own internal approaches to Innovation?

“BBC has been innovating since its inception so it’s engrained in our DNA. R&D come up with some amazing stuff when looking to the future. Our Connected Studio programme brings innovation to the fore. Our developers have 10% time to engineer great ideas. BBC is such a creative place that innovation happens everywhere, all the time.”


4. What role can mobile developers play in the future of the technology industry?

“BBC’s mission is to inform, educate and entertain so if developers can build software that does just this then we really should talk some more!”


5. Do you have a view on where the next big opportunities will lie for developers?

“Our Director-General talks of an internet first BBC and I’m anticipating big opportunities in our Digital teams. myBBC is a big project for us, which personalises BBC Online based on your needs and interests. We need all hands on deck if we’re to build a BBC “for everyone, where everyone belongs” – to coin a phrase that our D-G said.”


6. Tell us about some of your own new initiatives that you are excited about.

“I’m responsible for Diversity & Inclusion in Digital and I’m particularly excited about our women in tech conferences, testing out ‘blind audition’ (like The Voice) to reduce unconscious biases, inclusivity awareness short films, disability awareness talks for line managers, working with the Women in Science & Engineering (WISE) Campaign and so much more!”


7. How would you like to invite the attendees of Over the Air to get involved with your organisation?

“Urm, come and work for us. Browse our jobs at