Benjamin Franklinstraat 513
3029 AC Rotterdam

Lots of Space

September 23rd, 2015

We build and build and build some more. We’ve tinkered with lots of projects that never saw the light of day. Out of fun, to be creative or to prototype and see if something works. One of those projects is Space.

Space grew from a simple concept. To be able to open the door without being physically present next to the intercom and to open it from the outside without having to search your pockets for keys. First steps we took were investigating the phone and its signal to the door. We needed to reverse engineer that signal and somehow simulate the phone performing the ‘open’ action. We found the correct wires and crafted a device which would let us control it from an Arduino. We built an API around that and that’s how we hooked up our iPhone to our door. We even pulled it off to connect our Apple Watches through iBeacons.

The result was looking great, but we wanted it to be more than just an app that opened doors. We started experimenting with profiles and that gave us lots of possibilities. The idea was to link users to a profile connected to the Awkward wifi. This would give us the option to show if they were in or out of office. Now this was going somewhere. After uploading basic user data like avatar, name and contact information, there’s an overview of users present within the system. When registering using your mobile device, the API was able to recognize the user. We’ve built an agent which monitors devices signing on and off on our network using SNMP. This way we’ve got an accurate overview of who’s in and who’s out. This presence information is sent to the API which now knows who’s present (or not). The API pushes this information to the mobile apps in realtime. A green blip shows someone’s in office and a red blip, well.. you get the idea. Appointment? Maybe. Running late? Who knows. Sick? That would suck. So we implemented a ping system. A small “hey man, let us know what’s up”. We wanted to make it useful, but also fun. To combine those two, we figured badges would be a good fit. A small pat on the back or maybe just a fun fact. You would get a badge for all to see if you were the last one in the office, or if you were in before 7AM. We basically build a fun timestamp that also opened office doors.

So, a couple years down the road, are we still working on Space? Well we are, but it’s kinda on the backburner. I guess it’s more of a hobby than an actual project. We have plenty of ideas like the adding of messages, a daily report with some stats and an automated choir schedule. But what’s the next step? Some time ago, we made a plugin for Slack to ask who wanted coffee. People could answer and the plugin would pick a random person to make the coffee. We realized that we can use this idea for Space to make the idea more scalable. People could check in and out based on iBeacons and this will make the Space setup process less painful.

You know what, the fact is we’re full of ideas. Maybe that’s why we’re nowhere near the end result. But I promise you, we’re going to make Space available on Github when it’s ready.