UNIHACK 2018 — Why Hardware Matters And How Bosch Just Made Your Hack Easier
We invited Max Lee, an IoT Software Engineer at Bosch to share his insights on how participants can leverage hardware to take their hack to the next level. Max won First Place at UNIHACK Melbourne 2016 with his project, mangoDB.
As someone who has never really entered the realm of hardware, I always found it difficult to imagine myself utilising hardware in my projects. Almost all of my hackathon entries were purely software. At least it was the case until I saw the value in integrating hardware in the solution, and how it can take hacks to the next level.
Why Integrate Hardware in your hack?
Most hackathon entries start with the following question: “What problems are we solving with this app?”. This approach generally has a high success rate, since if you pick a relatable topic that the judges can connect with, it becomes easier to pitch. It also tends to keep the software development focused, which is better for surging out productivity.
Now, back to the question:
What problems are we solving with this app?
There is a prime reason why we can’t come up with a good answer to this. We are fixated by utilising data only from a software side — such as user habits, app diagnostics, software use-case problems, and so on.
Once you bridge the gap between software and real life, that’s when something relatable and a truly useful application emerges into existence.
A Basic Example Of Integrating Hardware
Imagine an app that suggests you a recipe based on the ingredients you give it. Since, figuring out what to cook based on left-overs you have, can be quite annoying.
- Not a bad idea?
- Already exists.
How about we link that to a real-life use-case?
Sensors in your fridge scan what you have and based on what you have left in your fridge, it suggests you a recipe.
- Not a bad idea?
- Actually won UNIHACK 2016.
We made sure to focus heavily on the user experience, and tied it back to the user’s life. However, this required hardware integration.
As you may have guessed, we can just collect application-level data — such as user’s friend on Facebook, or their usage pattern in Snapchat. However, there is fundamental limit to what you can do with just filtered data. Moreover, there is challenge in how to show it off, other than making a simple pretty UI.
What Does IoT Truly Mean?
Think of hardware as something that collects data, make physical changes, and displays data to the user. IoT means nothing much other than the complex logic of deriving information/knowledge from data, displaying such information, and control over hardware, has been moved to the cloud.
Well then, what is deriving information or knowledge?
From collection of data, we can derive information. From collection of information, we can derive knowledge — and this is where your application truly shines.
A Simple Example Of Data, Information And Knowledge
Ingredients/left-overs in the fridge = data
Expiry dates on these items= data
Collection of this data
→ Recipes you can cook with what is in the fridge
Collection of this information
→ Your fridge tells you when you need to go shopping for more groceries
Collection of this information
→ Your health status, and food suggestions based on your diet
Business value starts formulating at information level. Once it reaches the knowledge level, your app is worth paying for.
Back to UNIHACK
So, how can you actually derive real business value using hardware and emphasise IoT in your app for the upcoming UNIHACK 2018?
Bosch just made your life much easier! TI Sensor Tags will be available during the hackathon. It is equipped with:
- Ambient Temperature
- Ambient Light
- Barometric Pressure
- 9-axis Motion Tracking — Accelerometer, Gyroscope and Compass
- Reed switch
- 2 Buttons
- LED (red and green)
This should fulfil all your sensor requirements for your hackathon. You can find more about the hardware in TI’s official Sensor Tag page. We will also provide debug hats in case you want to flash your own code in them :)
But wait, it doesn’t end there! Bosch is providing an easy-to-setup solution for you to integrate the sensors in your app without writing a single line of device-level code!
During the hack, all Sensor Tags will be pre-configured along with Raspberry-Pi Gateways and internet connectivity. This means, just turn it on and hit the endpoint. Bam! You have data — as simple as that. You can also hit the endpoint to trigger events — such as playing a tone in the buzzer or turning the LED on.
You don’t have to use our Raspberry PI gateways during the event. In fact, we will open-source the gateway software (which is built in Node.js), so that you can run the gateway software yourself. It will be the same for the backend code as well.
Take your hack to the next level with Bosch’s IoT solutions.
Still don’t have an idea of what to build with such a powerful tool? Stay tuned to upcoming posts where we spoil you with fresh ideas for your next hardware/IoT hack. $1500 cash prize and more ;)