Over The Air 2016: reporting back

Heroic hacks, terrific talks and a fond farewell

Peter O'Shaughnessy
Samsung Internet Developers
3 min readDec 14, 2016


Last month we attended Over The Air, the developer gathering on mobile, web and more. If you haven’t been, it’s a special combination of conference and hackathon, in a wonderful setting, with a relaxed vibe. This year’s took place in St. John’s Church in Shoreditch, London.

The event began with a revelation from the organisers Dan Appelquist (who runs our Samsung Internet developer relations team, but he didn’t force me to write this! 😉) and Margaret Gold: after 9 years, this would be the last one!

Let me tell you a bit about it though and hopefully you’ll agree that we gave it a fitting send-off!

Dan Appelquist and Margaret Gold introduce Over The Air 2016

As an participant, we could choose to spend the event attending talks, hacking on a project for the hackathon, or (as I think most of us chose) a bit of both…

Thought-provoking talks

The talk themes included privacy, security, Open Source, IoT, AI, emerging technologies and new Web APIs such as WebVR and Web Bluetooth.

A few of my personal highlights include:

  • Hadley Beeman’s keynote on what the recent political changes might mean for the technology sector. (You can listen to Hadley discuss her talk here).
  • Glyn Wintle’s eye-opening discussion on Internet surveillance.
  • Dan Jenkins’ introduction to Web Bluetooth which included a very cool interactive poster demo.
  • Our colleague Ada’s inspiring introduction to WebVR, which had the person sitting next to me saying “wow” by the end!

I’m sure there were other amazing talks that I didn’t manage to attend too (I was a bit distracted until I finished my own talk on Web Bluetooth in Action!) — apologies if I missed yours out! The full programme is up on the website. Which were your favourites?

Ada Rose Edwards giving a talk on WebVR

Heroic hacks

Meanwhile the hackathon was in full swing, with some participants even staying overnight to get extra coding time!

At 3pm on the second day, we got to witness the results of all the effort. At Samsung Internet, we were one of the hackathon prize sponsors. All the hackathon entries were super, but there could only be 2 winners of our Gear VR headsets!:

  • Matthew Rollings won the Best Game / VR category with Third Person View, an out-of-body experience that works by streaming the video from another phone to your VR headset. Read all about it here!
  • Tristan Roddis won the Best Other category with IIInfinate Zoom, which renders a photo by filling it with tiny pictures that match the colour palette. You can zoom in to see a picture it contains, then zoom into this picture — and keep diving in deeper to infinity!

A shout-out to one of the other hacks: as a Bluetooth geek, another personal favourite of mine was this connected frisbee that collects stats on your throws!

And a fond farewell…

With the hack presentations complete, it was left to the Over The Air founders Margaret, Dan and Matthew to bow out in a suitable way!

And that’s it from this post — and from Over The Air… But you can relive more of the event with this wrap-up post featuring a great storify from Nexmo and Documentally. Enjoy!