Report from our HackDay
On July 5th, it was time to bring back the internal hackays we had not done for ages. It’s during them that we have done Le Miroir or Friendmix, for example.
The team has grown a lot during the last few months, and as the hackday is about working fast in a tight group, we decided to split in two teams : Hack Mambas, and Cyber Punks.
The two teams had to work around a common theme : think about the way we could use the big Minority-Report style display (about 2m wide holographic) we’re gonna put between the openspace and the meeting room. The challenge was to think beyond the idea of a simple display : take its specificity into account, and explore the particular use cases it could meet.
To avoid the errors identified during previous hackdays, the schedule had been defined in three phases, with precise deadlines :
- 9am : kickstart
- 10:30am : presentation of the project and the validated technical architecture to the other team
- 8pm : demos
- then : party
The Hack Mambas presented the Monster Wall, an interactive surface aimed at young childrens, at school. The student creates (“draws”) a friendly monster at the beginning of the year. On the screen, the imaginary friend comes to life. He gives the child information during the year about his daily life at school, asks him some simple quizz about the notions that the teacher defines, and makes a bridge between home and school. The interaction is done not through a touch screen, but through a specialized simple device, something like a pad with big coloured buttons.
Technically, the monster is created on an iPad app, the big-display app is a Factory template, the quizz use a spreadsheet to fetch the questions and correct answers, and the input device is made using Arduino.
The Cyber Punks thought about the screen as an “alive” device in the context of our daily life at Joshfire, and created a fantastic digital team work tool, a Tetris-like named Team Blocks. Every time someone produces something, may it be a tweet, a git push, a blogpost, … , a new brick is created. Its shape and color do vary depending on the person who’s responsible of its creation and the nature of the production. For example, this article will give us a 4 blocks line. The blocks are intended to fall very slowly, around an hour. During this time, its position and orientation can be influenced so as to make lines using a cushion with a build-in accelerometer, accessible to anyone in the team.
Technically, the Tetris application is a template using all kinds of datasources. The accelerometer is an Android application, using Phonegap and compiled using the Factory.
Both of the projects has been coded as templates for the Joshfire Factory and have been deployed using it. This has lead to new Github and IMAP datasources, and templates that will eventually become available. Most importantly, this day of intensive use has gave us ideas about a lot of improvements we will work on, so as to speed up and ease template development.
Not a regular day in not a regular company.