The Vodafone Embedded Hardware Hack Challenge

Introduction

Over the next five years, we’re going to see a dramatic breakthrough in M2M applications as organisations realise the unheralded potential it represents for revenue generation and improved customer satisfaction. Vodafone is working in a number of business sectors in order to develop Global M2M Services to meet the demanding and unique needs of these businesses, who are looking for end-to-end device-managed connectivity and opportunities to improve business processes and generate new service and revenue streams.

The mbed Rapid Prototyping platform provides the tools for efficiently prototyping ARM Cortex-M microcontroller-based designs. The mbed Microcontrollers are a series of ARM microcontroller development boards supported by an online tools platform, which provide a productive environment to build projects with the backing of libraries, resources and support shared in the mbed community. mbed is a versatile platform that enables developers to rapidly build intelligent embedded projects, including ‘Internet of Things’ applications with a interface the physical world. http://mbed.org

The Challenge

Create the most innovate and cool embedded hardware hack. This hack should show how an embedded device can be used to connect some aspect of a users life more intuitively to them. It can use any embedded hardware on the market (preferably Mbed) and connect using any wireless or fixed line technology (preferably a GSM, GPRS, or 3G one).

The hack can connect:

  • embedded to embedded;
  • embedded to mobile; or
  • embedded to web.

Examples could be home control, energy saving by monitoring and control, industrial applications, generic cloud based asset tracking, home or industrial gateways and hubs, exposing UI’s of embedded devices for enhanced control, integration with CAN bus on vehicles, embedded safety equipment, sensor networks, telemetry tracking and activation or anything else you can imagine!

Get creative!

The Prizes:

The winning team will receive 2 x HTC One X phones, 2 x k3770 modems, 2 x SIM payt 20 credit, and 2 x mbeds!
 

PLUS! 

  1. Publication to developer.vodafone.com
  2. Publication to mbed.org

Inspiration

Nicholas Herriot, Vodafone Group R&D speaks about embedded devices

Written by john.wyer on date 17 May 2012 in Vodafone developer backstage.

On a recent visit to Vodafone UK HQ in Newbury Vodafone developer took the chance to catch up with Nicholas Herriot, Solutions Architect, Vodafone Group R&D. During the last year Nicholas has focused his work on embedded devices, energy and the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT).

See what Nicholas had to say below and checkout the short video interview I shot where Nicholas took the opportunity to demo some of his recent work here.

“It’s been a real eye opener to see advancements in micro controllers – and I believe the time is right in two areas for a new revolution which is silently taking place before our eyes.

Those areas being: Wide area connectivity and associated cost to the user. By most peoples standards it’s hard to deny that you can get connected to a network in most populated regions around the world.

The other big change is the relative cost of processors. And the saying “it’s as cheap as chips” really is a beautiful pun. Processor and transmitted ‘bit’ cost are now asymptotically heading towards zero.

For me that means the area of machine to machine (M2M) is now in a growth phase – and by that I don’t mean caused by government legislation, enterprise customers managing assets remotely or large corporations deploying remote systems – which is all true. I mean that this ecosystem is about to grow rapidly via work done by very small and medium sized companies and or individuals. We can see proof of that from the explosion of systems like Arduino – where in 2005 they started from ‘1’ to 2010 over 200,000 units per year.

There are some things that need to be in place to make this ecosystem fly in my opinion. You need to have:
1) A central place where everyone can get a coherent, managed and tested code base.
2) It needs to be open and community based.
3) It needs to grow and develop with that community.
4) In reliability it needs to be as good or better than commercially driven proprietary products.
5) Cost is a factor – it has to be very cheap.
6) In terms of connectivity – it has to be outstanding, it should just work and be easy to connect by what ever access technology.

I do not believe all of those issues have been cracked.  During the last year we have worked on Arduino and Mbed devices – evaluating and deciding what would be a good partner if R&D were to try and assist this community in some area. We decided to help provide and work on a software library for Mbed that would help developers connect those devices to our network.
Our work is not complete, however we are at a stage to show, build and demonstrate prototypes. In this blog article we have submitted a vide, in it we attempted and succeeded to build a functioning door access system using a smart phone, a COTS electronic door lock, a 3G dongle, an Mbed controller and associated power supplies. It took us 3 days to go from nothing, writing the code, acquiring components and showing the prototype. This would not have been possible even 5 years ago.

In the next six months we will be writing articles explaining how we progress with this – what we are doing – what API’s we plan on releasing – and release dates for the library.

We would like to hear thoughts from developers on what we are doing, how we are doing, what things we could do better and what other features we could add to this type of system to make it better for them in developing embedded applications.”

LEGO + Space Exploration + Kid Coders = MoonBots

We’ve got so many cool things on the Over the Air programme this year, Ariel Waldman will be launching the event with a Keynote on Hacking Science & Space Exploration, Adam Cohen-Rose will be running his popular LEGO Mindstorms hacking session again this year, and both Code Club & Young Rewired State  are helping us shine a light on Coding for Kids.

So when we heard about the MoonBots competition, we knew we had to help spread the word!

MoonBots 2012 Challenges Youth From Around the World to Learn About Space Exploration and Have Fun!

Playa Vista, CA (May 15, 2012) – The X PRIZE Foundation and the LEGO Group today announced MoonBots 2012: A Google Lunar X PRIZE LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Challenge. This third annual contest will challenge teams of youth to study the history of heritage artifacts left on the Moon, while also getting an opportunity to learn about the new and exciting things that private industry and government are doing in the arena of space exploration, including the $30 million dollar Google Lunar X PRIZE.

“In the MoonBots 2012 Challenge, students develop their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) skills by using LEGO MINDSTORMS robots. New for this year, teams from all over the world will get to address some of the same issues as the Google Lunar X PRIZE teams. They will learn about the heritage artifacts left on the Moon, share their thoughts about the kinds of artifacts they think our Google Lunar X PRIZE teams should leave on the Moon and inspire us with what they would personally leave on the Moon if they could!  We are also asking these students to tell us what they think an ultimate lunar landscape challenge course for a LEGO MINDSTORMS robot would be. ” said Chanda Gonzales, Google Lunar X PRIZE Education Manager.

The contest is divided into two phases. In Phase One, there is no limit to the number of Teams that compete. Teams of 2-5 youth, 9-17 years old will produce a fun, creative and scientific video and asked to share with us their lunar landscape challenge design.  It could be made out of LEGOs, sustainable materials or even rocks and sand. Teams will also be asked to give details about where they would show off their lunar landscape. It could be at their school, at a mall or maybe even a theme park.

From these submissions, 30 Teams will be chosen as finalists and provided a stipend to build their ultimate lunar landscape. They will also receive a free LEGO MINDSTORMS Robot that they will have to learn how to program to complete a course on their Moon. During the fall of 2012, these Teams will share with their achievements during a live broadcast and public display of their designs. This will enable people from all over the world to not only see the team’s robot and challenge courses but also to play the game with the team.  The Grand Prize winners will receive a trip for the Team and their families to visit the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems on the Island of Hawaii and learn about how the Hawaiian landscape today helps scientists prepare to explore the Moon

Free registration and Phase One of the contest will be open from May 15th through July 15. Phase Two of the contest begins August 1h through November 15th. To learn more about the MoonBots 2012 Challenge, additional partners supporting the contest, and how to register a team, visithttp://www.moonbots.org.

 

The LEGO Group
The LEGO Group is a privately held, family-owned company based in Billund, Denmark. It was founded in 1932, and today, the group is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of play materials for children, employing approximately 5,600 people globally. The LEGO Group is committed to the development of children’s creative and imaginative abilities. LEGO products can be purchased in more than 130 countries.

In 1998, The LEGO Group spearheaded the consumer robotics category the company with the launch of the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Robotics Invention System, that introduced children to the world of robotics, and offering the ability to create their own intelligent, interactive, autonomous LEGO robots. The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT robotics toolkits allow children of all ages to design, build, and program their own robots using LEGO building elements, customized hardware, and an easy-to-use icon-based graphical programming language.

 

The HMGCC Secure Communications Challenge

Introduction

Barely a week goes by without some mention, in the press, of a major cyber incident.  Whilst a few years ago the incidents being reported were generic “malware infects 10,000 of users”, today we see widespread reporting of targeted cyber operations.

Users now face an unprecedented threat, both from malware targeting their personal machines, and targeted attacks against the services they use and trust.  To defend against these threats, new technologies are being invented allowing more dynamic categorisation of attacks and making use of the huge online community to cloudsource information about potential attacks.

This never ending battle between the attackers, be they criminal, hacktivist or politically motivated/funded, and those on the defensive side; security experts, researchers, commercial companies, and government agencies; is endless.

This shouldn’t surprise or worry us unduly, as long as there has been things worth stealing, there has been crime.  But we do need to stay aware of the latest threats and constantly look to “up our game”; improving the quality of the engineering which underpins our lives.

In the last year most major world governments have woken up to this wide range of threats and begun programs of cyber investment; with the aim of substantially improving the defences of both government and commercial computer systems.

One area where this effort has proved most challenging is within the mobile space.  Traditionally the response was to ban mobile devices from buildings, but increasingly the huge business benefit they can provide is causing this approach to be rethought.  We’re increasingly challenged to find innovative ways to allow use of mobile devices in security concious environments.

To defend government systems into the future we need innovative and inspirational technologists to work alongside our world class experts, in devising and implementing new defensive technology.  Due to the broad range of potential attack vectors there is ample opportunity for those with a security concious mindset, regardless of technical specialism; database, application, mobile, embedded and even reverse engineers are all needed to protect against the advanced threats faced by government.

– Richard Cooper, Platform Security Lead, Her Majesty’s Government Communications Centre

The Challenge

Create a solution that addresses one or more of the three key aspects of security:

  1. ensuring that the content of communication is confidential and secure from interception by 3rd parties;
  2. that the communication channel is available and resistant to denial of service attacks; and
  3. that systems provide high integrity, allowing you to be confident that the other parties involved are who they say they are.

[hr]The Prize – A Motorola Zoom 2

The Kirin Challenge

Introduction

Kirin is a second generation cross-platform toolkit for iOS and Android development.

Building mobile apps is what we do. As clients started to commission apps across iOS, Android, Qt, WebOS (RIP) and Windows Phone 7, we used PhoneGap, we played with Sencha and Titanium and we launched mobile web apps.  We had a few successes, but reached the conclusion that the first generation of cross-platform technologies have fundamental limitations:

  • Getting the desired level of polish can be hard work or just impossible
  • Mobile OSs have different UI patterns – we do not want the same UI across all platforms
  • Performance and/or app size are just not good enough

Kirin is based on a simple idea: sharing the app logic across platforms and build the UI natively. We achieved that by writing all the application logic in Javascript and running it within a hidden WebView. The advantages:

  • Build mobile UI with the best tools in the business (the SDKs provided by each platform vendor)
  • Let the OS handle device fragmentation
  • Enforce a cleaner business layer – presentation layer architecture
  • Reduce overall development effort

Tried and tested on our own skins, Kirin has been used to build apps for Orange (Glastonbury 2011), Lastminute.com and Domino’s Pizza amongst others. We open-sourced Kirin because we want to remain focused on our client work and believe that a wider community will enhance the toolkit faster and better than us on our own.

The Challenge

In 24 hours, write an Android or iOS app that uses the Kirin tools.

We will judge your entry based on:

  • size and complexity of the resulting app (i.e. the more screens the better);
  • number of APIs you glue together;
  • hilariousness of your presentation.

Serious extra points will be awarded to teams that build apps on both platforms.

Because this is a technology challenge, we would encourage you to use your hack to win other challenges (e.g. the Facebook challenge).

To win, we expect you’ll need a team of people:

  • a developer who knows what a UIViewController is;
  • a developer who knows what an Activity is;
  • a developer who knows what a node.js and npm is;
  • a designer who knows that back buttons are hard coded on some platforms.

Of course, we know that there are people out there who are able to do all these things, so if you’re a smaller team, then this will be taken in to consideration in the judging.

If you’re really keen, you can go look at some of the things that have started to appear on our documentation site. If you have any questions, drop us a line @futureplatforms or email us at info@futureplatforms.com.

The Prize:

An Amazon Gift Voucher worth £25 for each member of the winning team.

The Bletchley Park Challenge

Introduction

Learning is a large part of what happens at Bletchley Park. Visitors may not realise that our extensive education department welcomes schools, colleges and universities nearly every day. In our dedicated facility young people have the opportunity to learn about the history of cryptography, from the Caesar (or ‘shift’) Cipher through to today’s dual-key asymmetric techniques that we use every day of our lives, often without realising it.

As more and more children have access to smartphones and tablets, we have an opportunity to follow-up on these sessions with apps. Additionally, using mobile apps as an education medium means we can reach others that are not part of the education programme. Often a visit to Bletchley Park can be a little technical for the younger visitors. Sure they enjoy the toy museum and the model railways but often the ‘codes’ can go right over their heads. Wouldn’t it be great if we could appeal to them more at their level and help explain how codes and ciphers were used to keep secrets.

The Challenge

So, here’s what I’d like to see:
Devise a solution whereby one or more users can send ‘secret’ messages to each other using a dedicated BP-themed app. The cipher employed should be simple enough to be explainable and demonstrable to the user. For instance, a Caesar cipher (shifting the alphabet n places to the left or right) is simple to understand yet an effective cipher.

  • A form of communication network will be required. Use email or devise your own service as appropriate.
  • A user should be able to set the parameters for the cipher (as required by the cipher used) and encrypt a message
  • The message should be transmittable to another user
  • The recipient should be able to ‘guess’ the settings or the message content (or partial content – think Hangman) but not be told them, so if the sender wishes, they can reveal the setting or message.

What I envisage are parents being able to provide their children with the app at BP (although geo-dependancy would not be required) and the little ‘uns can have fun throughout the day sending secret messages to each other or their parents. In the process, the children learn a little about codes and are entertained.

The above is only a suggestion of how such an app could operate. Credit will be given for original thinking and ingenuity! It doesn’t have to be a Caesar cipher and indeed could be any form of game.

The only requirement is that it reflects on Bletchley Park in style.

If you have any questions, drop me a line via @mrpjevans on Twitter.

The Prizes

T-shirts for each member of the winning team from the Bletchley Park store (exact style yet to be determined).

Fancy a Turing Test challenge? Enter the Chatbot Battles!

Brought to you by Steve Worswick, frequent medal winner in the now-ended annual Chatterbox Challenge, this Challenge is not strictly-speaking a Turing Test as the entrants don’t have to pretend to be human, but they will be scored on how well they carry on a normal conversation. The competition is open to Android Apps but not iPhone Apps – unless you’d like to donate the man a phone!

Welcome to the first ever Chatbot Battles!

Ladies and gentlemen, grab your ringside seats and welcome to the first ever series of Chatbot Battles. Let’s get ready to rumble!

Chatbot owners from all over the world enter their creations for a knockout league to determine the winner. Each competitor must play each other in a league with the top entrants battling out in a one-on-one dual. Last bot standing wins!

Each match sees both chatbots either being asked the same 5 questions or having a free flowing conversation for 5 minutes. The winner is decided from their responses.

 

• Deadline to enter your chatbot: 1 June 2012
• League stage from: 11 June 2012 to: 25 June 2012
• Knockout stages start from: 26 June 2012 to: 11 July 2012
• Final result should be announced in July 2012

All bots are welcome to enter and test themselves against others, whether they be web based, downloadble, chatroom bots or even Android apps, sorry but we are unable to test iPhone apps – unless you want to send an iPhone along with your entry 🙂

Chatbot Battles are open to various kinds of chatterbots – Website Bots, Downloadable Bots, Chatroom Bots and Android apps – written in any programming language. Your bot only needs to be available so people can talk with it. Botmasters are invited to enter their bot and do battle with opponents from all over the world.

The Details:

Rules for entering are:

  • Only English speaking chatterbots are allowed to enter.
  • Only one chatterbot per person. This means you can’t enter different versions of the same bot.
  • Clones – you are free to enter any AIML, Personality Forge, MyCybertwin, INF.net bots and any other type of bot. However, if during a match, two bots produce exactly the same answer, neither will score a point for that question. This is to stop clones that have had no extra work carried out on them. The only exception to this rule is if the original bot (A.L.I.C.E., Ultra Hal etc) enters the contest. In this case, it will be awarded the point whereas the clone will score zero.
  • Accessibility – your bot must be easily accessible to the judges.
    • We can not accept bots that are only available on CD ROM. They have to be available to download on the internet.
    • We can not accept bots that require the judges to download a 3rd party chat program such as Mirc. Most instant messenger bots such as AOL are okay to enter.
    • We can not accept bots that require additional downloads of various programs that are not already install on Windows XP unless they are relatively small and easy to install.
    • We can not accept bots that are not online 24/7. With judges being from all over the world and in different time zones it’s not possible to schedule a time for judging.
    • If you are running some type of blocking filter on your bot to prevent user abuse it must be removed during judging or you must provide a method where the judge can re-establish contact instantly. If the judge can not complete the conversation, your bot will score 0 points for that match. Seeing how a bot reacts to foul language or abuse maybe a part of the judging process.
    • In short you are responsible to provide the judges with a bot that is easy to access or install.
  • There must be a way for the judges to copy and paste the output from each bot. This is especially important in speech-only bots. It is time consuming to judge any contest such as this and helping the judges to accurately record the responses is appreciated.
  • Bots created on Android apps are permitted to enter. These apps must be either free to download or a copy of the paid version must be accessible to us, either without us having to pay or by reimbursing us for the cost. Unfortuately, we have no way of testing Iphone apps. In the case of a phone app, it is not necessary to provide a way to copy the output but the bot’s responses must be visible on-screen and not just spoken.

Contest Calendar:
Deadline to Enter: June 1, 2012
League Stage: June 11, 2012 to June 25 2012
Knockout stages: June 26, 2012 to July 11, 2012
Announcement of Winners: July 2012

Prizes and Awards:
Unfortunately, as I have no sponsor and am not rolling in money, I can only offer the kudos of beating your peers as a prize and maybe a T-shirt, mousemat or similar gift. If anybody is interested in sponsoring the contest, please contact me.

Judges:
The judges will be selected from the general public to determine the winners in the contest. None of the judges will have a bot in the contest to ensure fairness. The judges will be totally impartial and fair to all entries regardless of the bot type or the owner. The judges will each be allocated matches to oversee and will be free to ask the bots anything they wish. If during a match, the bot asks the judge a question, the judge must answer it unless this goes to more than three questions in a row. Such tactics will be classed as stalling and the judge is then free to proceed to the next question without answering the bot.

Judging – League Matches:
A league match will either consist of a question and answer session or a free flowing conversation.

Question and answer match:
Each judge will pose the same five questions to the two competitors in each match and will score a point to the bot who in their opinion, gave the better answer for each question. Each question will be spelled and phrased exactly the same way to ensure that each bot gets an equal chance. At the end of the match, the points will be tallied up to find a winner. The maximum score in each match will be 5-0. All judge’s decisions are final.

Free flowing conversation match:
The judges will talk with both bots in the match for 5 minutes each. Any and all subjects may be covered. The judge will allow himself to follow the lead of the bot when necessary and will not be deliberately obtuse with the bots. Judges will be aware of the current state of AI and will converse accordingly. After the end of the match, the judge will decide which of the two bots gave the more convincing conversation and mark each bot out of 5. The chatbots are NOT expected to believe they are human. We are looking for the ability to chat not to try and fool the judges.

Judging – Knockouts:
The knockout stages will be judged as above but with 10 questions to each bot. This will continue until the semi-finals when there will be 15 questions. The losing semi-finalists will play an extra match with 15 questions to determine 3rd and 4th positions.

Questions:
1) The questions may contain typos to test the bot and internet slang terms like “lol” may also be used.
2) The questions will not be trivia like but reasonable in that an average person would be able to answer them. For example: “Who was Michael Jackson?” is good. “What is the population of Russia?” is bad.
3) As this is an international contest, the questions will not favour any particular country. For example asking a question about a certain country that only the people of that country would know. An example of this is “Who is the President of Finland?”.
4) Mathematical, logic, memory and reasoning questions may be employed. Examples of such questions are, “What is 6-2?”, “Can I eat a building?”, “I have a blue shirt. What colour is my shirt?”, “Joe and Jim are twins. Joe is 24 years old, how old is Jim?” and so on.
5) A question may just consist of a statement to see how a bot reacts in ordinary conversation rather than just being a question/answering program. An example of these are, “I went to the movies yesterday.”, “There is nothing on TV tonight.”
6) The questions will be posed in British English but if the judge deems a bot is having trouble understanding due to spelling, he/she may, at their discretion, pose the question in American English. An example is, “What is your favorite book?” instead of “What is your favourite book?”
7) Basically, anything goes. Each bot will be faced with the same input and so will face the same chance in each match as its opponent.

How the contest works:
Each entry in the competition is placed into a league table with at least three of the other entrants. The number of league tables and entrants in each will depend on the number of contestants. A typical league table will look like this:

 

Group A

P

W

D

L

F

A

Pts

Chatty Chatbot

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Testbot 123

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Chatter Bot

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Sir Talk-a-lot

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Blah D Blah

0

0

0

0

0

0

0


Just like the soccer World Cup, each bot will play against another bot in its group until all the entrants in each group have played each other. A match will consist of 5 questions. Both bots will be asked each of these questions with the one who answers the best, in the judge’s opinion, being awarded a point. If the answers are the same from each bot for anything except a general knowledge or a yes/no question, as they may be for A.L.I.C.E clones for example, no points will be awarded for that question. A typical match would go as follows:

Question 1: What is your name?
Bot 1: My name is Bot 1.
Bot 2: I do not know your name.
(Bot 1 scores a point for giving a correct answer. Score so far: 1-0)

Question 2: Do you like steak?
Bot 1: I like ice cream.
Bot 2: I like books.
(Bot 1 scores a point for giving a more relevant answer about food. Score so far: 2-0)

Question 3: What is a dog?
Bot 1: Dog: man’s best friend, a canine.
Bot 2: Dog: man’s best friend, a canine.
(No points scored. Although both bots were correct, they produced exactly the same response. The only exception to this rule would be if the original bot was taking part, as this is the original from which the clone was made. Score so far: 2-0)

Question 4: Jack is taller than Jim. Is Jim taller than Jack?
Bot 1: Who is that?
Bot 2: I do not know.
(Both bots got it wrong and so no points scored. Score so far: 2-0)

Question 5: What is the capital of France?
Bot 1: Paris.
Bot 2: Paris.
(Although they gave the same response, it was a general knowledge question and so both bots score a point. Final score: 3-1)

As in a soccer league table, 3 points are awarded for a win, 1 for a tie and 0 for a loss. The final result of the above match was 3-1 to Bot 1 and so that entry would score 3 points for winning the match. Bot 2 lost and receives no points.

These matches continue until everyone in each group has played each of the other members in the same group. The final table would then look something like this:

Group A

P

W

D

L

F

A

Pts

Sir Talk-a-lot

4

3

0

1

14

3

9

Chatty Chatbot

4

2

1

1

10

8

7

Chatter Bot

4

2

0

2

13

9

6

Blah D Blah

4

1

2

2

8

12

5

Testbot 123

4

0

1

3

2

16

1

 

The top two from each league table then go on to the knockout stages. The higest scoring runners up may also be included in the knockout stages if the numbers are not a power of 2 (4,8,16,32 etc). In the event of a tie, the number of points scored in all matches will be taken into consideration. If there is still a tie, the number of points conceded will be counted and if by some reason there is still a tie after that, the tieing bots will play a match between themselves to decide a winner.

The knockout stages continue in the same style as above but each match consists of 15 questions instead of 5. The winner will progress to the next knockout stage while the loser is out of the contest. In the event of a tie, further questions will be asked until one bot falters. Once the contest gets down to the final four, 15 questions will be asked in each round. The knockout matches will follow this style:

 

Quarter Finals (10 questions)

Semi Finals (15 questions)

Final (15 questions)

Contest winner

(1) Winner of group A

(5) Winner of match 1

(1) Runner up of group C

(7) Winner of match 5

(2) Winner of group B

(5) Winner of match 2

(2) Runner up of group D

Winner of match (7)

(3) Winner of group C

(6) Winner of match 3

(3) Runner up of group A

(7) Winner of match 6

(4) Winner of group D

(6) Winner of match 4

(4) Runner up of group B

 

There will also be a 3rd and 4th place play-off between the losing semi-finalists with 15 questions. The whole process should take around 1 month depending on the number of contestants but this time frame may increase or decrease.

Note:
The rules and guidelines may be changed at anytime to ensure fairness. It is impossible to forsee all the events that may arise during the contest so Chatbot Battles may have to make amendments to the rules to ensure the smooth running of the contest.

The Facebook Open Graph Challenge

Introduction

The kind of person we are can be defined by what we do; the music we listen to, the places we go, the food we eat, the books we read, the interests we have. By integrating with the Open Graph, your app can help people express who they are through their Facebook Timeline by publishing the user’s activity in your app to Facebook in the form of Actions (verbs) and Objects (nouns).

Apps can define their own custom set of Actions and Objects which let users publish that their listening to songs, reading books, attending events, donating to charities, running a route, visiting a city, that they love an author or have cooked a recipe… These actions appear on a user’s Timeline and, because Actions and Objects are structured data, they can be aggregated in interesting ways – not just the songs I listen to, by my favorite artists. Not just the recipes I cook, but my favourite chefs, restaurants, or cuisines.

Actions can be published from any platform: web, mobile web, iOS or Android native – even apps on OS X, Windows or Linux. The Actions your app publishes not only appear on a user’s Timeline, but in Ticker and Newsfeed for their Friends to see which drives traffic to your app on whichever platforms you build for.

The Challenge

In 24 hours, build an iOS, Android or Mobile Web/HTML5 app which integrates with the Facebook Open Graph, and publishes Actions that help a user express their online identity through what they do.

Apps will be judged on:

  • their usefulness and appeal
  • their technical implementation and completeness
  • the value of the resulting Aggregations and Feed Stories to a user’s friends
Extra points will be given to apps which are built for multiple platforms, and make use of advanced features like custom Object and Action references/properties, or iOS and Android native Deep Linking for Open Graph feed stories.

Inspiration

The best Open Graph apps come from applying Facebook’s platform to another data set – be it movies, recipes, books, songs, artists, locations, sports. We recommend you find a domain you’re interested in, and which you can get data for. Then model the data in terms of Objects, and link Objects together using References. Then think of the Actions that a user could take in your app, and which you’d like to see from your Friends in your Facebook NewsFeed.

Examples of successful mobile apps which have integrated with the Open Graph include:

  • Spotify – publishes the songs people listen to, with timeline aggregations which show favorite Artists and Albums
  • Pinterest – helping people organize and share great content from across the web
  • Foodspotting – where foodies can share the dishes, restaurants and cuisine’s they love
  • GoodReads – sharing the books people read, and helping people discover new authors and publishers from friends
  • TripBirds – sharing travel plans and getting recommendations for places to go from your friends
  • Pose – helping people share what they wear, their favourite designers and shops

Getting Started

Building a simple Open Graph app can take less than an hour. Developers follow a simple process:
  1. Define your Actions & Objects
  2. Design your Timeline Aggregations
  3. Markup and expose your Objects as URLs on the Web
  4. Integrate Facebook Authentication into your app on whichever platform you’re building
  5. Publish Actions for a user against your Objects

Resources

The Bletchley Park Challenge

Introduction

All visitors to Bletchley Park are offered ‘wands’. These are digital audio guides that visitors carry around the park with them. The only controls are a numeric keypad and standard playback buttons. As the visitor proceeds around the park, signs at various points of interest indicate a number to enter on the keypad. This starts playback of a pre-recorded talk relevant to where the visitor is standard. For example, entering 001 will give you an overview of the Mansion.

Although maybe not as entertaining as a guided tour, wands do allow visitors to set their own pace around the park and also allow them to do so in private rather than as part of a larger group. This can be additionally useful for those with hearing difficulties or mobility problems.

 

The Problem

Bletchley Park owns some 600 wands. They rely on rechargeable batteries that provide the power for all operations that are rated for about 1000 cycles and most have reached the end of their useful life. These are not standard packs and the company that makes the wands has gone out of business. A few months ago we were down to less than 100 operational wands. Bletchley Park can receive 500-700 visitors on a normal ‘non-event’ day.

So, over the past few months volunteers who know the hot end of a soldering iron from the other have been busy in their sheds re-fitting the wands with standard battery packs. This has been very successful but many wands are failing because of more complex faults and over time, the amount of wands available will be reduced. The cost of replacing the entire ‘fleet’ makes it a non-starter.

How You Can Help

One way of reducing pressure on the usage of wands is to offer an alternative that makes use of the visitor’s smartphone. As a wand is effectively just a collection of audio samples and a keypad, everything needed to recreate that experience is available on just about any phone on the market today.

So, could we come up with an effective wand ‘alternative’ using, say, iOS and/or Android? We could then offer the resulting app as a free download that the visitor could acquire before arriving at the park or upon arrival.

But why stop with an audio tour? My perfect ‘Bletchley Park’ app would include (but certainly not be limited to) the following:

  • An interactive map with geolocation. The visitor can see where they are and receive guidance information to certain ‘landmarks’ (e.g. B-Block, Churchill Exhibit, Hut )
  • Photos and even short video clips to accompany the audio tour.
  • Use of geolocation so the app knows where you are and selects the appropriate audio clip (or clips) for you.
  • What’s On’ guide for the day, informing customers about what exhibitions are open, closures, events and tour/talk times.
  • Augmented Reality. The ability for users to hold up their cameras and see war-time images of certain areas overlaid.
  • Text to accompany the audio tour with ‘further reading’ links for detailed information.
  • Ability to push ‘offers’ and tour start-time reminders as notifications.
  • Pre-visit information (e.g. ‘how to find us’, entry prices)
  • Purchase tickets on-line
  • Donations button!
  • An Enigma simulator would be an obvious thing and certainly nice to have. However, it’s only fair to point out that the MyEnigma simulator on the Apple iOS App Store is superb.
  • Many things I probably haven’t thought of.

PJ Evans

Tour Guide at Bletchley Park

@mrpjevans

 

Resources

(courtesy of the Good for Nothing Bletchley Park Challenge)

Tony Sale’s in-depth technical info on Enigma, Tunny and Collosus: http://www.codesandciphers.org.uk/

Lots of rich content on Audioboo http://audioboo.fm/search?q=bpark

Pics and content from 2010 reunion http://bparkreunion.posterous.com/

Bletchley Park homepage: http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/

History photos http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/content/hist/history.rhtm

Save Bletchley Park petition: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/BletchleyPark/

The National Museum of Computing http://www.tnmoc.org/

Sue Black’s homepage: http://www.sueblack.co.uk

Save Bletchley Park: http://www.savebletchleypark.com

Our Secret War http://www.our-secret-war.org

Alan Turing Year 2012: http://cs.swan.ac.uk/turing2012/

Photos from 2010 Reunion  http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamin2/sets/72157624809285545

Content from 2010 Reunion http://www.amplified09.com/bpark2010/

Video – Women of Station X http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/content/video-example.rhtm

Can Twitter save Bletchley Park?  http://www.archimuse.com/mw2010/papers/black/black.html

Sue Black’s posterous http://drblack.posterous.com/

Reunion info http://bletchleyparkreunion.info/

Flickr group for Bletchley Park http://www.flickr.com/groups/bletchleypark/

Flickr group for National Museum of Computing http://www.flickr.com/groups/tnmoc/

The Ericsson Labs Networked Society Challenge

Sony Ericsson Xperia™ arc phones up for grabs

Are you a developer under time pressure from your project manager?  Have you ever thought, “I can skip the security features since it doesn’t add any visible to my project”?  If the answer is no, then you’ve probably never had a tight deadline.  We don’t need to tell how much credibility you will lose if your projects lack security, but what we can do is show you how to add security features without a massive time loss. Join us for our workshop, Securing your Internet Fridge: Security in a Networked Society at 18:00 on Friday evening.

In addition to our workshop, we are giving away a prize during the hack-a-thon.  The Ericsson Labs’ Challenge could win you a Sony Ericsson Xperia™ arc phone, donated by our key partner SonyEricsson.

The app you submit must include the following items:

  • It must address the theme, “Apps for the Networked Society in some way.
  • Use at least one Ericsson Labs API; however, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a security API.
  • It must be based on the Android platform (Web or Native)

Submitted apps will be judged based on these evaluation criteria:

  • The inclusion of at least one Ericsson Labs API
  • How well it addresses the theme “Apps for the Networked Society
  • How innovative the solution is
  • The Business potential for your app

Another Chance to Win – The OTA11 Quiz Cards

See you there!Winning a Sony Ericsson Xperia™ arc has never been easier.  All you have to do is fill out our quiz card that you will find in your Bletchley Park Lunch Bag on Friday, then bring it to our lounge in the Ante Room during the 4:30 break to find out if you’re the lucky winner.

The Ericsson Application Awards

As an added incentive to participate in our challenge, any application that you present to us at Over the Air may also be submitted to our annual competition, the Ericsson Application Awards (EAA).  The EAA is an annual, global competition for developers on the Android platform.  The competition is an opportunity for teams to get exposure, recognition, contacts within the telecom world as well as a chance to win up to €15,000.

The deadline for team registration for the main competition of the Ericsson Application Awards is February 1 and the last date for application submission is February 28. There are also ongoing mini-challenges from now until the final deadline, so keep an eye out for those on the campaign site [http://www.ericssonapplicationawards.com/].

 

 

 

 

 

Droidcon Partners with Over the Air

As many of you alert Mobilists will know, the annual Droidcon Android Conference is a mere 5 days after Over the Air, and we’re pleased to announce that we’ve partnered with WIP to be the official Android Hack Day that they always organise before their big event.

If you haven’t heard of Droidcon, it is the UK’s largest Android conference exclusively covering the Android, Android Development, Android Applications and the ecosystem that has grown up around Google’s Mobile Platform.

Droidcon 2011 will take place at Islington Design Centre on the 6th-7th October 2011 and will feature the cream of the Android Developer world. Day One will be a community-led Android Unconference with a full day Barcamp and Democamp. Delegates will take to the stage to give talks, participate in discussions and showcase their Android applications. Day Two will be an Android Conference. Android Experts from around the World will present on every aspect of the Android and its many uses. Around 40 speakers on 4 Tracks will cover Android Development, testing, Marketing, and lots, lots more.

The OTA Hackday Android Category

Droidcon will be supporting the Best Android Apps hackday category by offering free tickets to Droidcon for the winning team as well as a slot to demo their winning app at the Democamp on Thursday.

(That shouldn’t be an excuse not to get your early bird ticket now before they disappear…)

But that’s not all…. Droidcon will also be giving away 2  Sony Ericsson Xperia Play devices (the first PlayStation certified Android smartphone! w00t!) to the 2 best teams. So don’t just sit there – start thinking of a great Android hack to enter!