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AT&T Hackathon 2014 brings QualComm's new gimbal, AT&T M2X, Sparkfun and others

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Early in the morning on Jan 4, 2014, Palms Casino Resort hosted the 2014 AT&T Hackathon. The entrance was set up much like the yellow brick road. The walls were covered with gold and the AT&T signs were hard to miss. This heightened expectations of gold within the knowledge yet to be unfolded. Not only was I the reporter but a developer as well.

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Upon arrival inside the symposium, I was first greeted by Dia Cambell techstylist and resident Iduino Lilypad expert with Sparkfun Electronics http://www.sparkfun.com. She told me of the competitions for both wearables and the m2m (machine 2 machine) applications. The winners of each would go onto the accelerator competition which the winner of this would come away with $10,000. Her table was filled with all sorts of devices from red Unos (Arduino Unos) to wire available to developers. She also told me about a tent outside with staff available to assist with soldering. She was quite exuberant.

The next table was led by developer Greg Rose of Plantronics http://www.plantronics.com. He had a wireless headphone available to developers for the m2m competition. He explained that one of the focuses of the competition was getting the headphone to interact with apps not yet produced. He offered this device for people who were willing to experiment with it.

As I moved up, I found the table for AT&T M2X https://m2x.att.com/. Equipment was available on a first come first serve basis. Such equipment to work with for the M2M Apps was the HSPA+Cellular Arduino Shield including Freescale KL46Z, sensors for temperature, motion, light, and a host all sorts of other electronics. I had just gotten there at the cutoff. Better luck next time. Part of developing at Hackathons means getting there early so as to get all the latest technology to work with.

Sitting next to this table was Alex Krielein technology policy specialist with U.S Department of Homeland Security http://www.dhs.gov/. He explained the 3 mains parts they were looking for in developing mobile apps for public safety. First, FUNCTION tailored to first responder use, including enhanced user experience and quality aspects. Part of function was that it operates well within first responder organizational and operational environments. Second, SECURITY employs up-to-date device, operating system, and programming security mechanisms and practices. As well, protects data from privacy intrusions, accidental leakage and malicious attacks. Lastly, PERFORMANCE optimizes use of device and network resources (e.g., device battery life, network bandwidth). Also, scales to the size of the public safety event and minimizes distraction for the first responder. He pointed to speaker Jeff Johnson just taking the stage to ask him about further specific questions dealing with just what the needs were out in the field.

Jeff Johnson introduced himself as a Board Member with the First Responder Network Authority U.S. Department of Commerce http://www.firstnet.gov. He spoke during his speech of a dire need for better devices to be used in the field by first responders. When I spoke to him on the side after his speech, he gave me a brief run down of what the specific problems were. Technology is useless without knowing what the specific problems to tackle are. One example is that units of firefighters are having a difficult time finding out where a fellow firefighter is in a building. The x,y coordinates are determined but not the z-coordinate. So, a firefighter could be on the basement, 8th floor, or the 50th floor.

I met up with some of my former colleagues Tony Suriyathep and Sunny Clark formerly from Genesis Gaming Inc http://www.gen-game.com to help tackle some of these problems. Tony came up with an idea for a medical communication device in XCode for the iPhone which communicates with QualComm's new beacon also known as Gimbal https://www.gimbal.com/. Sunny came up with idea for using the gimbal to know the orientation of firefighters in a situation, keeping the team together in combination with the AT&T HSPA+Cellular Arduino Shield. And I stuck with Sparkfun products and Arduino programming to create the all new Violin Bow Accelerometer. Yes, I was a presenter as well. No, I did not win the $10,000 prize.

When speaking with Charlie Karstrom Business Development and Mark with QualComm http://www.qualcomm.com/, he said that the gimbal can be used for geofencing, proximity, and interest sensing. He gave me several of the gimbals to experiment with to see what I could come up with using the available technology in combination with AT&T's M2X platform. https://m2x.att.com/developer/client-libraries This link will give you an idea of the languages used to code for these products. I am most comfortable Android. He said that the SDK is fine for XCode for iPhones, but the Android SDK is not set up yet. Android will be coming soon though for those of you who are Android programmers. Try it. It became clear to me that some of these people present were not altogether sure of exactly what could be possible. The point of the Hackathon was to see what was possible with ideas generated from us.

When Jan 5th rolled around, the presentations were mostly Powerpoint presentations or the presenters were cut off before they could even present a solid product. There were a few of us who actually had products though. One of which was the Lonely Pillow by Mixi, Inc https://github.com/mixi-inc/Android-Device-Compatibility or http://mixi.jp/. This product by Kyosuke Inoue and Takako Ohshima had the pillow calling a friend when the sleeper was lonely. So with the combination of touch and light sensors when struck in various ways the AT&T HSPA+Cellular Arduino Shield could call an iPhone asking person to come over.

Other companies present looking for m2m link up were Johnny Liu with Neurosky http://www.neurosky.com and his Brainwave Starter Kit, John Gravois with esri http://www.esri.com and his GIS (geographic information system) technology, and Kevin Toms with the new HuePersonal Wireless Lighting from Phillips http://www.phillips.com. There was a very limited amount of time to produce wearable products or m2m apps for all of these companies but it was a great kick starter for future products to be built later. All of these companies have great ideas for communicating in many different ways. Now the job is to get them working for your specific way of processing information.

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