When the Tool Just Fits – A View From the AT&T Hackathon
By Sara Jarjoura
It’s 2014 and the tech scene is a-buzz with the outcome of the AT&T Hackathon at their Developer Summit in Las Vegas, just prior to CES. Partners present at the Hackathon - ARM, Qualcomm, Intel, Netgear, SparkFun, MultiTech, Plantronics - all brought great hackable hardware. As a developer coach for the AT&T M2M Application Platform powered by Axeda, I worked alongside hackers through the night and ultimately had the amazing privilege of seeing one of our teams win an overall grand prize. AT&T made it obvious that they know how to put on a Hackathon, and the result was happy developers unleashing their inner Einsteins (or Teslas if you prefer :)
Teams using our platform were able to build working, end-to-end solutions quickly. When the SafeNecklace team (click here for WSJ coverage) had set up the sample code and hardware, I saw them working out the problem with the tools on the platform and realizing that those tools matched how they were thinking about the problem. When a DATA VALUE crosses a threshold distance we want to create an ALARM that needs to stay active until CLOSED. We want to set up a RULE that an ALARM will trigger code to run and send alert messages. They could do everything on the AT&T M2M Platform with no other server needed.
With the agent running on the Kontron M2M Smart Services Developer Kit, an Arduino Due handling simple sensor data, and Axeda’s simple HTTP API protocol called AMMP , (Adaptive Machine Messaging Protocol) I could say yes to any question developers asked. "Can I add a camera?" Yes, plug it into the USB on the Kontron and the agent will send up image files based on a timer or event. "Can I read a simple temperature sensor?" Yes, plug sensor into Arduino and send data up through Kontron. "Can I just use the platform to record data from an Android app?" Yes, simple HTTP POST.
I sensed initial skepticism from several groups of developers. "Just show me how to get data in and out of your platform and I'll code up the rest myself." The developers who looked a little deeper stuck with the platform once they found it could do everything they wanted to do.
| A few of the AT&T and Axeda Sensai's at the AT&T
Hackathon: Chris Meringolo, D'Lani Jean, Sorin Netu,
Joe Rogers, Kevin Holbrook, Sara Jarjoura, Mark
Another project was ReportIt, a social emergency notification system that reduces the strain on first responder communication channels. Kevin Holbrook coded up a working system for theteam in less than 3 hours that was very similar to a system I created 5 years ago with another developer in 3 weeks – an 80% productivity increase gained by leveraging the AT&T M2M Platform. The system Kevin created had not just dots on a map but also Geofence creation and alerts. I know it sounds unbelievable but a physical analogy would be like 2 guys with shovels trying to do the same job as 1 guy in a backhoe. In that example you would believe an 80% productivity difference. The millions and millions of lines of code and over a decade of real world use in the AT&T M2M platform are not visible but like a backhoe they are there for someone who knows how to use them.
What hardware inspires you? What could you build with the AT&T M2M Platform?