And that’s a wrap.

A huge thank-you to everyone who made OTA16 a fantastic event – the 8th and last, of the Over the Air series.


The workshop programme was full of some truly amazing talks, the hall was filled with the buzzing of collaborations and learning, the crypt was a bean-bag filled cozy hacking zone, and the hack entries were awesome! With huge props to the Sponsors who made it all possible.

And at the heart of the event is of course the Over the Air community – that’s you!

Here are the first of the photos in the OTA16 Album in our Flickr Group – do add your own as well.
Over the Air 2016

(Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to request the removal of any of these images – we were counting on folks telling us throughout the event if they’d prefer their photo not be taken.)

Interviews by Christian Payne (Documentally) on Twitter & Audioboom

The lovely team at Nexmo, our cornerstone Sponsor this year, invited Christian to interview a number of participants, some of which you can find here on Audioboom, and others you can find on Twitter – such as his interviews with Rev. Graham Hunter, Paul Johnston, Dom Hodgson, Andy Piper (two times) , CoderDojo attendee Simone Luis,  Tom Durrant, Matthew Rollins, Tristan Roddis (and Paul again), Sam Machin, Alex Bucknall, James Smith, Hadley Beeman,

Read the full Storify here! (Once again, courtesy of Christian Payne)

Here’s a taste of the conversations that took place – too much for one blog post naturally, so do check out the full storify.

Support our amazing Venue by making a donation

We’ve asked Rev. Graham to set up a dedicated donation tool for the attendees of Over the Air 2016, so that we can offer some additional financial support for this amazing building, and the services it offers both the local community and the technology community.

Our generous sponsors have made this year’s OTA possible, but only at a reduced rate for the venue, and they really need the financial help themselves. Please help us make up that shortfall by making a donation. 

This fund is for guests at Over the Air 2016 to make donations towards the cost of the event. Sponsorship has not covered the whole cost, and the church has been flexible with it’s hire fee – but is now facing a shortfall. Please give generously to cover the church’s costs, and support its wider work in the Hoxton neighbourhood. Ps. If you use GoCardless to donate, the fees are lower than Stripe – so the church ends up with more money!” – Graham Hunter

Screen Shot 2016-11-26 at 11.06.40

Running OTA16 on an ‘austerity’ budget

2016 has certainly been an interesting year – possibly the most glued-to-the-news that we’ve ever been, and huge divisions exposed across western society.  An excellent time for us to come together in a celebration of what we can achieve when we share knowledge and collaborate on fresh ideas for a shared future.

But it has been a year of changes in the mobile industry as well, with many reorganisations taking place, and tactical changes to how companies approach developer relations and outreach. Many of our supporters over 9 years of Over the Air have been faced with budget cuts, stretched teams, and major layoffs… necessitating our move to a new date from the original plans for September.

Winning a few more months to plan the event has unfortunately not had much of an impact on the financial picture – even with the help of all of you lovely people who have chipped in a fiver. We now find ourselves running an ‘austerity’ budget, and are having to get mighty creative on where we can save a quid or two.

Can you organisation support us?

At the moment we are particularly looking for two Lunch Sponsors – without whom we’re going to have to ask everyone to brown-bag it for the two days. We don’t have enough money for a second Marquee, and we also don’t have money for Bean Bags.

Here’s what the budget looks like – we are currently £5k short of the ULTRA minimum budget.

Item Incurred Ideal Budget Min Budget ULTRA Min
Runners, 2 day shifts £520.00 £260.00 £260.00
Event Mgr £1,080.00 £1,080.00 £1,080.00
Lead Runner £630.00 £480.00 £480.00
Code AV £9,043.00 £9,043.00 £5,000.00
Accountant £800.00 £800.00 £800.00
Printing £200.00 £0.00 £0.00
Bean Bags £3,700.00 £1,890.00 £0.00
Vehicle hire £85.00 £85.00 £85.00
Insurance £500.00 £0.00 £0.00
Groceries (Beer, Wine, Soft Drinks, Coffee, Tea) £3,000.00 £2,000.00 £1,000.00
Ticket Payment System £12.89 £12.89 £12.89 £12.89
Wifi  £500 £3,500.00 £2,000.00 £1,500.00
VenueHire £10,000.00 £10,000.00 £7,000.00
Marquee hire £4,000.00 £4,000.00 £0.00
Catering £6,725.00 £5,000.00 £3,000.00
Container Rental £900.00 £900.00 £900.00
Corporate Tax £2,000.00 £2,000.00 £2,000.00
VAT due Q2 £2,310.00 £2,310.00 £2,310.00 £2,310.00
VAT Q3/ Q4 £7,000.00 £3,000.00 £3,000.00
Cleaner £280.00 £280.00 £280.00
Parcelforce 17.22 £17.22 £17.22 £17.22
Security £500.00 £500.00 £500.00
Sollicitors £960.00 £960.00 £960.00 £960.00
Total £3,800.11 £57,763.11 £46,618.11 £30,185.11

How does that compare to previous years? In 2015 our budget was £67,870.90 and the last year at Bletchley Park our budget was £100,826.12

Can you be our hero? Then please contact


We’re getting Arty at OTA16

21617447969_65c88afdb7_zOver the Air has always been able celebrating programming & development as a creative discipline, but this year we’ll be inviting you to explore your artistic side as well.

We’re pleased to welcome Hercules Fisherman to the team as curator of the Art Space this year! You may know him as Herx, and a fixture of the Hardware Hacking and Start-up scene, but Hercules is an artist as well, and he’ll be bringing a whole new realm of creative expression to the event this year.

If you’d like to contribute interesting materials for an artistic hack this year, do send him a note on Twitter! @Herx


NEW DATES!!! November 25th & 26th, 2016

Many of you who have been following us on @overtheair and #ota16 have been asking us about when registration would open this year, and indeed we’ve been hesitating to go live because we saw that this moment was coming… we need to move the dates for this year’s Over the Air to November.

It’s been a mighty ‘newsworthy’ few months with lots of changes going on in the industry, and we simply haven’t had enough sponsorship commitment at this point to put on a good event in 6 weeks time. But now that we’ve bitten the bullet, we’re raring to go again.

For starters: Registration is now Open!

Although tickets are free as always, for the first time we are inviting those who are able to make a donation towards the costs of the event. If you can make a contribution of any value, it will be greatly appreciated.

And while you’re at it, why don’t you also submit a proposal for a workshop? As sessions become finalised we’ll be posting them along with speaker details on Lanyrd.

We hope to see you in November.




On Diversity at OTA

As more and more companies become aware of the issues of diversity of representation within the technology industry, we occasionally get asked where we stand on this issue as Event organisers.

Well, we care about it very much, and make a concerted effort each year to reach out to communities of people who are typically under-represented at technology events, especially Hack Days. It’s one of the reasons that we have always worked hard to keep the event free to attend – we know that financial barriers also play a role in this.

We are quite proud of our consistent gender balance at our events, which has ranged from 30% to 50% female amongst both participants and speakers (check out the 2015 speakers list on Lanyrd). Exactly half of our Keynote speakers over the years have been female as well.

To ensure that our event remains a welcoming and positive place for all, we explicitly support the Hack Code of Conduct and the Diversity Charter.

But we are not resting on our laurels, and care about other areas of diversity as well. Technology events are rightly challenged on their record in welcoming and giving the stage to people of colour, people of different faiths, people with physical mobility challenges, and people in the LGBT community.

Help us spread the word!

When community groups form along these lines it is quite simple to reach out with an invitation – but we know that we could be doing better at spreading the message more widely. As we prepare to open up this year’s registration, please share your suggestions with us about how we can reach new people who might not otherwise know about Over the Air.

Recommend a Speaker

Know somebody who is involved in an innovative / inspiring line of work and a great speaker, who isn’t getting the stage time they deserve? Then encourage them to submit a workshop proposal or Lightning Talk proposal (while getting them on our radar as well) – or better yet, recommend them to us as a potential Keynote speaker.

Younger participants also welcome

It’s worth mentioning that we make the event accessible to younger people as well, not only inviting students and recent graduates to join us as participants, but also offering ‘Coding for Kids’ workshops on the Saturday morning. Last year for example, Coder Dojo London ran a highly successful BBC Micro:bit workshop for kids on Saturday, which was the first public event of it’s kind, and Microsoft ran a BBC Micro:bit training session for parents, ‘Coding for Kids’ volunteers, and enthusiasts the day before. (N.B. that children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult at the event)

Sponsoring Diversity

We are still looking for Sponsors for this year’s event – if your company is passionate about supporting diversity in tech, then OTA16 is a great opportunity to keep those financial barriers down and add your voice to the welcome call. Specific opportunities include sponsoring this year’s Coder Dojo workshop, sponsoring the Lightning Talks that feature a diverse range of speakers, and sponsoring the venue, which is fully wheelchair accessible. Get in touch with margaret at overtheair dot org to find out more.

The OTA15 Hack Day Winners are….


The 2015 Hack Day Challenges


The BBC Connected Studio Challenge Winner t.b.d

BBC Connected StudioThe Brief:

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. Find out more here.

The Prize:

Taster-256x256The best ideas have the chance to be further developed by our experts and even funded, made, and showcased on BBC Taster. 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.

The Winner:

The BBC Connected Studio Challenge has a longer process than our usual Challenge, such that those who entered have been invited to film a longer pitch, which will be assessed by an internal team of people at the BBC. Any winners will thus be contacted after the event, but we’ll share the news here too.


The JustGiving Charity Challenge Winner = Stephen Nicolas for If This Then Help

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.

41bv+eCMivLThe Brief: Use the JustGiving APIs in a creative way, to the benefit of this year’s OTA15 Charity – the St. John’s Hoxton Fund. Find out more here.

The Prize: Arduino Starter Kits with UNO Board

JustGiving Challenge Winner



The CCL Citizen Science Challenge Winner = Tristan Roddis for the Transcriptinator

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.  

lilipadThe Brief:
Build a citizen science hack using mobile technology. Anything goes—mobile phones, sensors, wearables, outdoor monitoring stations, balloons, drones…Find out more here.

The Prize: A LilyPad Starter Kit



CCL Challenge Winner



 The 2015 General Hack Day Categories

The Best in Show Winners = Judith Boldt & Elgin Candoleta, for Dancing R2D2

This category is the Judges’s selection, based on all of the entries that they have seen both under-the-hood and on stage during the Demo’s.

Best in ShowThe Prizes are:

5 LEGO Mindstorms Kits, donated by LEGO.

3 books from Make and O’Reilly, donated by O’Reilly.

1  Microdrone 2.0  & Visual Studio T-Shirt, donated by Microsoft.

best in show

The Audience Favourite Winner = Tom Durrant, for KeyGlove

This category is the Audience’s selection. Voting took place via a phone-in system built on Twilio by Sam Machin.

audience vote The Prizes are:

5 LEGO Mindstorms Kits, donated by LEGO;

The book Make: Robots, donated by O’Reilly.

2 x Visual Studio T-Shirt, donated by Microsoft.


The Best use of APIs / Open Data Winner = Tristan Roddis, for The Transcriptinator

This category celebrates the best use of ANY of the wide range of APIs and open Data Sets being showcased at OTA15, as judged by Cristiano Betta of Braintree.


The Prizes are:

2 LEGO Space Needles, donated by Braintree (and perhaps a little something extra if you also use the Braintree APIs).

The book Web Scraping with Python, donated by O’Reilly.

Headphones,  a Visual Studio Cup, and a Data T-Shirt, donated by Microsoft.

Best in Show

The Best Cloud Entry Winner = Oli Newsham for DSC0073

Best entry making use of cloud computing / cloud services, as judged by Amy Nicholson of Microsoft.could

The Prizes are:

A Microdrone 2.0, Headphones, and a Visual Studio T-Shirt, donated by Microsoft.


The Best Android Entry Winner = Stephen Nicolas for If This Then Help

androidBest App built for Android, as judged by Ade Oshineye of Google.

The Prizes are:

3 Android Wear / Moto 360 Devices, & 3 Chromecast Devices Donated by Google.

The book Head First Android Development, donated by O’Reilly.


The Best iOS Entry Winners = Dom & Heather Hodgson for Baby Swipes

Best App built for iOS, as judged by Andy Piper of Twitter.

ios prizes

The Prizes are:

Parrot AR Drone, 3 Raspberry Pis, and 3 Twitter JuiceBoxesdonated by Twitter.

And the book iOS Swift Development Cookbook, donated by O’Reilly.


The Best Windows Entry Winner = Tom Durrant for KeyGlove

Best App built for Windows, as judge by Lee Stott, of Microsoft.


The Prizes are:

3 Windows 10 T-Shirts and 3 Water Bottles , donated by Microsoft.

The book Mobile Design Pattern Gallery, donated by O’Reilly.


The Best Mobile Web / HTML5 Entry Winner = Sam Machin for Woof RTC

Best use of the Mobile Web and/or HTML5, as judged by Sam Giles of Mozilla and Alex Lakatos.

mobile web

The Prizes are:

3 Firefox Mugs and 5 Unisex Firefox Tshirts, donated by Mozilla.

The book Mobile HTML5donated by O’Reilly.

Headphones & 2 Visual Studio Cups, donated by Microsoft.

mobile web

The Best Game Entry Winner = Tristan Roddis for the Transcriptinator

GamesThe best game or gaming hack, as judged by Lee Stott of Microsoft.

The prizes are:

The book Theory of Fun for Game Designdonated by O’Reilly.

A Visual Studio T-Shirt & 2 Visual Studio Cups, donated by Microsoft.


The Best Use of Other Features Winner = Alistair Macdonald for Touch Free

bluetooth and otherGet creative with all of the features on-device! This Category as judged by Lee Stott of Microsoft.

The prizes are:

The book Getting Started with Bluetooth Low Energydonated by O’Reilly.

Two IoT T-Shirts & Data T-Shirts, donated by Microsoft.

other features

The Best Hardware / IoT   Hack Winner = Sam Machin for Woof RTC

iotBest use of a physical proto-typing platform, device, micro-controllor, etc; to be judged by Philip Handschin of MediaTek Labs.

The prizes are:

5 LinkIt ONE boards, donated by MediaTek.

The book Designing Connected Productsdonated by O’Reilly

hardware hack

The Best Wearable Hack Winner = Tom Durrant for KeyGlove

wearbleThe prizes are:

The book Make: Wearable Electronics,  donated by O’Reilly

A  Raspberry Pi 2, 1 Windows 10 T-shirt, and 4  IoT T-Shirts, donated by Microsoft.



The Hack Day Entries

The following Entries and Teams entered the OTA15 Hack Day Competitions:

Entry & Team Description
Yakilium, by Terence Eden & Sareh Heidari A wearable… FOR YOUR CAR!nSpeeding? Automatic donation to charity! Speeding? Change your Radio 1 Roadshow to THE ARCHERS. Speeding? Upload your naughtiness to an open data set – and Tweet a photo of your criminality to the police!
Tweet Me News, by Sara O’Connor 16-34 year olds share, on average, six pieces of content a day on social media, which is a lot of data about what they are interested in. They spend up to 14 hours per day consuming media, across several devices, especially on the platforms they are sharing content, which is a great place to reach them to show them articles that they are interested in.

What if we took data from what they shared and cross-referenced it with the news of the day? We could personalise a set of articles that are highly likely to be of interest to them. And rather than ask the user to visit some website, we’d send the new articles to them on the platform they are already using.

Tweet Me News delivers personalised news stories to you, via Twitter, based on your tweets, courtesy of the BBC Juicer.

Woof RTC, by Sam Machin Using a Raspberry PI with the Camera Module and a Mic as a WebRTC client running ‘headless’ The pi can be set up as a remote monitor on for example my puppies crate so I can check on him from any browser.
Because the Pi itself has no input or control method the answer/hangup controls for the Pi end of the call are implemented remotely on a mobile browser using pusher’s web sockets to control that end.
The Transcriptinator, by Tristan Roddis The Transcriptinator is a desperately exciting game designed to run on the British Library’s Crowdsourcing Arcade Machine (

It takes information from the hundreds of thousands of scanned documents available on the Qatar Digital Library website (e.g. . These documents have OCR transcriptions attached (same link, scroll down) but these are imperfect, having been done by a stupid computer rather than a clever human being.

The Transcriptinator enlists the help of the aforementioned human being by presenting them with the OCR words, alongside the source image, and inviting them to mark which words have not been correctly transcribed.

The way it does this is by using the open API available on the QDL site, which presents images via the International Image Interoperability Framework ( – possibly the world’s most underrated protocol). This allows selective zooming and cropping which, when combined with positional information from the raw transcription XML, allows game players to compare the two at the level of each word.

Performance Budget Calculator, by Jonathan Fielding Performance is very important for responsive websites which is why performance budgets are becoming a lot more popular. The problem is that they are painful to put together so I decided to put together this tool that would allow you to put together a performance budget easier.

In doing this I am hoping to open up performance budgets to a much bigger audience, as it means both developers and designers can quickly play and experiment with different performance budgets and the impact they have on the end users.

video at

Touch Free, by Alistair MacDonald A hardware hack that allows a mobile phone or tablet to be used without the needing to touch the screen.

This is of use when wearing anything from protective gloves in the cold to medical and industrial environments where touching a screen is not safe. It could even provide access to hardware otherwise unavailable to a disabled user.

The device is based around a microcontroller that emulates a virtual keyboard and mouse (and for games a joystick) and allows access to most of the basic functionality via a finger joystick.

DSC0073, by Oli Newsham When people come back from holiday they always tell you about the place they went to off the beaten path; the little local cafe, the old farm they stayed on, or the village in the middle of nowhere. This speaks of a natural human curiosity about the lives and cultures of others. DSC0073 is an API that seeks to satisfy that curiosity.

Digital cameras are so commonplace that 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Only a tiny fraction of that content gets shared, and an even smaller fraction gets shared widely. A vast quantity of content is uploaded with no description, gets no views, and only has the name given to it by the device on which it was recorded. That is the key to DSC0073.

The DSC0073 API hosted on Azure searches YouTube for content with a camera-bestowed title and serves it up as a single serving view into the lives of people all over the world. I’ve built a website and a Universal Windows 10 app that consume data from the API to present a stream of video.

The KeyGlove, by Tom Durrant The KeyGlove is a keyboard in a glove that allows the user to type by simply pressing their fingers against a solid surface. Keys are entered by pressing binary combinations of the 5 fingers at the same time.
This entry method can be a little hard to get used to at first so there is also a game to help learn to type.
BODY TALK, by Moira Morrison My solution is a handshake between a microsoft band, an azure site, and a virtual reality headset. My desire is to integrate the vr device seemlessly to the owners activities by scraping websites for content, setting up the headset sending operating instructions and status notifications and then recording body statistics during the hr experiences. The stats can then be compared for best experience reaction, fastest desensitisation, and across users ‘how was it for you’.
Baby Swipes, by Dom & Heather Hodgson Tinder for Baby names or what happens when you suggest Buckles as a baby name to your wife
IFTHT – If this, then help them, by Stephen Nicholas The problem: I want to give more money to charity, and I want to encourage more people to give more to charity.

“What’s stopping you / them?” Laziness / I’m never sure how much to give.

“How about just a % of what you earn?” That could work, but what about people with fluctuating incomes or need to save for a bit. And what if we could make it more interesting…

The (original) idea: interface with Google Pay / Braintree on my phone and give a dedicated % of my ‘luxury’ purchases to a nominated charity.

Turns out this is tricky: unsurprisingly the payment data is not generally shared and so I can’t really do this (short of a purposeful man-in-the-middle attack).

So this has evolved into a general service on the device that can be used to automatically trigger a donation to a charity of my choice. Other apps can then plug into this (with the appropriate permission) to do cool stuff (some of which I may also try to hack together).
* A pomodoro timer than punishes you if you don’t complete the whole pomodoro (i.e. if you use your phone as a distraction)
* Geolocation interaction
** E.g. whenever I go to McDonalds, make me pay. Or if I go to McDonalds more than once in a day, make me pay.
** Or an app that can determine the charity for an event I’m at, and I can easily donate.

Lego Coward, by Janos Potecki Lego Coward is basically a LEGO Mindstorm robot which is driving autonomously. To program the robot I used Python, which I have just rarely used a couple years ago.
The robot is called coward, as when he bumps into something/somebody he makes a ~90 degree turn and drives away.
Furthermore, there is a remote control which can change the direction and the pace of the robot.
CazKnit, by Caz Mockett A way of getting your favourite knitting patterns read to you while on the move.
Sentimental Juice, by Matt Lacey It’s a news reader based on the BBC News Juicer that uses sentiment analysis of the stories and a learning algorithm to surface the more interesting stories. Once it’s learnt interests it can use that to filter breaking news alerts to only those that are relevant to the person receiving them.
Ripple, by Jon Kelly, Viviane Li & Olivia Chou Ripple’ gives context to News.

Help viewers to better understand:
• news from other points of views (‘World views‘)
• how a news incident may affect their daily life (‘Ripple share’)
• current affairs via archive news articles

The ‘World views‘ demo shows a part of the whole concept.


*and relax*

Basically, those things that you’d call 101 for if you could be bothered.

Why not just tweet it quickly and forget about it?

So I’m using ionic (!) to create an Angular and Cordova based HTML5 and iOS and Android (and possibly even other platforms) app to do this.

Dancing R2D2, Judith Boldt & Elgin Candoleta We built a dancing R2D2 out of LEGO Mindstorms
Smart Home, Hercules Fisherman Technologist , artist interested in innovation in general