Sep 16 2014

Virtual Memo

The virtual memo (or “virtuele memo”) is a gadget created by a group of companies for the Wots conference. This blog post will be a sticky reference to what this thing is about and what you can do with it.

Memo logo

Section A: Winning the gadget

The app for the virtual memo does have two separate functionalities integrated in one application. The first part will help the visitor of the conference to win this very gadget! This is done in the form of a quest that shows another facet of the virtual memo. Namely that of an iBeacon.

The visitor gets a code, say JV_Q5D8T6P7A9W which he or she has to enter on the registration page of the smartphone application. Subsequently a route is calculated that allows the visitor to, indeed, visit stands of the companies that participated in the creation of the virtual memo. At each stand the app proposes an ice breaking question that might help you to initiate the conversation with the stand owner. Let’s hope it is not “Ah, this app sucks!”. :-) On his or her turn the stand owner will give you a passcode that you can fill in that is coupled to your unique participant code entered at the beginning. Where the virtual memo enters the picture here is in the form of devices at each stand. When you are near a stand one of the round blobs will change color to indicate that you are close. This is done through iBeacon advertisements and is not necessary for the quest.

Because pictures say more than thousand words, you will see here some screenshots of the virtual memo application:

Memo guide Memo guide Memo guide Memo registration

And the actual functionality that allows the visitor to fulfill the assignment:

Memo list Memo question Memo list filled

Section B: The gadget at home

At home you can follow the guide for home usage. You can glue the gadget to your fridge and use it as conventional Post-it’s®.

Home guide Home guide Home guide

The memo part is very rudimentary on the moment. The priority of the app development has been in providing the proper functionality at the one-time Wots event. In the following screenshots you see the actual memo notes. You can navigate through them with the arrows at the top-right. Note that for this functionality a working link to the CommonSense database is required somewhere in the past. The virtual memo does namely not have the functionality to actually store the messages. This would have been neat by the way, and might be something we will provide later. When a memo is discovered the screen shows an elaborate string below the note that indicates the id of this memo. Moreover, shortly an alert will light up the LEDs on the memo. Of course, a virtual memo can only be seen if it is nearby and the “on” button has been pressed.

Note Note

You can navigate to other memos, if you are so lucky to have multiple, by navigating to “Alle memos” in the menu:

Menu Menu

If you select the “okay” button at the top-right of a memo, it will briefly blink and send a sound alert. Then it will be selected in the software and navigate to the stack of memo notes corresponding to that device.

For nerds

There are a lot of improvements possible! Please, help us in whatever way you can! This project was not paid for by the organizers (but we are happy we can present ourselves in this way). It is not finished!

The original developers for the iOS application didn’t find the time to do so. Hence, this part of the app development was a learning experience for us. Let’s say it like this, one of our Apple fanboys didn’t like iOS development so much afterwards. :-) It is really long-winded to get into the Apple store. Something we anticipated and pushed for it, although not all bugs were yet pletted. What this means, is that the iOS app will always lag behind the Android one, where an application shows up in a few hours after submission.

You can find all the code at github! This code runs, although not smoothly, on both Android and iOS. This means you might also be able to use parts of the code if you want to, for different projects. Perhaps even parts of it are useful in the browser. The application is a Cordova application (the commercial variant is called PhoneGap).

You will find for example code to communicate with the CommonSense API or you can find out easily which plugins work both on Android and iOS with respect to Bluetooth Low-Energy or iBeacon support.

Please, help us by submitting issues to github.

16 September 2014

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