IOTA Hackathon: Open Car Charging Network (Part 1)

PlugInBaby App in iPhone

+++UPDATE+++

We’ve stirred much interest in the issuance of our XSC token at the IOTA hackathon in Gdansk. We therefore decided to prolong our rewards campaign for IOTA developers for 1 week:

If you’re a developer who committed code to advance the IOTA network during the month of November, you’ll be eligible. If you think you’re eligible you can request up to 250 XSC until Friday, 1 December 2017.

Fill out this form now! Show us that you’ve got the right stuff!
Developer Incentives Program: Claim XSC Rewards

For more information on the CSC Blockchain Evolution Incentive Scheme, click here and here.

+++UPDATE+++

The IOTA Hackathon took place from Nov 17 to Nov 19 in Gdansk, Poland. Software developers from all over Europe came together to put to test the IOTA Platform with various use cases. The event was sponsored by IOTA, Baltic Data Science (blockchain and big data service), Datarella (blockchain and big data consultancy) and Bright Inventions (mobile app development). Four teams of developers and software experts formed around various use cases and competed for the prize money of 4,200 IOTA. Here in „Part 1″ we summarize the idea iteration process for the contest’s winning team  „PlugInBaby“ and the associated pivot that took place while defining the project topic. Part 2 describes the development and design of the project in more detail.

Defining the Need

Idea Consolidation
Idea Consolidation

We started the hackathon with a group brainstorming session followed by some informal voting and group building around the topics generated.

After narrowing the focus down to the topics, „Autonomous Agents“ and „Decentralized Stack“ the group focused on idea generation.  Any potential topic needed to utilize the special characteristics of IOTA (scalability, speed, zero transactions costs) while avoiding limitations such as the lack of a Turing complete language and smart contract capabilities.

Initial brainstorming considered applications in manufacturing, autonomous transportation, supply chain management and distributed sensor technology.  Eventually the basic idea of using IOTA as a distributed database allowing individuals or autonomous agents to identify free parking spaces in cities and also search for those spaces crystalized out of the brainstorming process.

Pizza Box Brainstorming
Pizza Box Brainstorming

After several hours of work on the concept and the potential implementations, we found structural problems with the plan. In our initial approach, the team imagined that individuals or autonomous agents/smart cars would identify free parking spaces, notify others of their presence by writing to the tangle and potentially be compensated for the service. A number of important questions were however left open with this topic.

Critical Questions that Lead to the Pivot:

  • Why should a system for finding free parking spaces be built using IOTA?
  • Wouldn’t another technology be more appropriate?
  • Why not use a blockchain which allows for smart contracts?
  • Would people really use such an app?

Pivot to an open car charging network

After several hours of discussion, the team still couldn’t adequately answer the above questions so we turned to another idea. Instead of logging free parking spaces, we would provide a link between an IoT network of decentralized charging stations and traditional or autonomous cars needing charging services.

Currently, electric charging infrastructure is almost always mediated by large corporations and organizations. This project seeks to change this.  The team drew inspiration from ElaadNL which built a Proof of Concept (PoC) Charging Station for electric cars running fully on IOTA. Their charger is built using off the shelf tech and could be adopted by individuals who wish to offer electricity from their private microgrid or solar installations. What’s missing in the ElaadNL implementation is a user-friendly way to select and navigate to the charging station.

ElaadNLPoC
ElaadNL IOTA Electric Car Charger PoC

The ElaadNL PoC app works on a „Pull“ basis where the user has to enter a charger code to search for the status of a particular charger.  The team wanted to design something that would work on a „Push“ basis and push the location of open chargers to users within the familiar confines of a google map interface.

The team envision a world in which individuals could take an open-source IoT charger kit and set up an IOTA-based charging station wherever they have access to power and a parking space. This could open up a whole new layer of community-based decentral charging.

Concept Doodle
A world where individuals leverage open source software and DIY hardware to decentralize the market for energy.

The project, so conceived was well matched with the strengths of IOTA. Scalability and transaction speed would be needed due to continual improvements in the speed of charging and the fact that the search mechanism of the system would have to operate very quickly to guarantee a good user experience. A system with zero transactions costs was also judged to be appropriate for the type of microtransactions that need to occur between a car and a smart charger enabling real-time pricing for electricity.

We owe a shout out to ElaadNL for their PoC. The existence of such charger allowed us to think in a modular fashion and abstract away the charger component to focus instead exclusively on the building a system to find the chargers and transact with them.

IOTA Hackathon winning team „PlugInBaby!“. Team members (from left to right): Yoon Kim, Andrew Young, Rebecca Johnson, Lukasz Zmudzinski, Dominik Harz, Alexei Zamyatin, Linna Wang, Nicolas S – and the moderator Michael Reuter of Datarella to the far right

 Here is an overview of all reports on the IOTA Hackathon’s projects:

1st place – „PlugInBaby“:

…describes the idea and the pivot of the project
Team „PlugInBaby“: Open Car Charging Network (Part 2)
…describes the technical level and provides resources

2nd place – „Freedom Pass“:
Team Freedom Pass: Fraud Detection (Part 1)
…describes the high level of the project
Team Freedom Pass: Fraud Detection (Part 2)
…describes the technical level of the project

IOTA Hackathon

The blockchain tech sphere in the fall of 2017 looks totally different than in the same period of 2016. Then, many people heard about blockchain for the very first time, now there are several dedicated blockchain platforms for specific applications. In the field of Industry 4.0, beside supply chain and robotics, IoT applications provide a hotbed for highly scalable blockchains, such as IOTA, NEO, or QTUM.

For and with one of these IoT-specific blockchains, IOTA, we will organize a hackathon, a week-end full of code, co-creation and ideas.

BUILD THE FUTURE WITH US!

Today is blockchain, tomorrow is industry 4.0 and the internet of everything. Autonomous cars, sensors and intelligent factories are the future but how will they communicate and transact among one another on a worldwide scale? IOTA is a blockless ledger system which enables scalable autonomous machine to machine micro-transactions without fees. Want to get your hands dirty and take part in building the future?

WHAT’S THE IOTA HACKATHON ALL ABOUT?

  • Developing services or products for the internet of things
  • Gaining experience with IOTA’s blockless ledger system for cutting-edge machine to machine transactions
  • Keynote speeches by key players in the industry
  • Networking, fun, free food and friendly competition

THREADS TO BE PURSUED

  • IoT Based Business Plans
  • Hardware Connectivity Layer: Bluetooth, Z-wave, ZigBee or LoRa
  • Application Layer: MQTT, XMPP
  • Fog, Mist & Edge Computing for IoT
  • Quantum security
  • IoT Maintenance & Lifecycle Management
  • Identity of Things (IDoT)

WHO CAN PARTICIPATE?

  • Developers (Esp. JavaScript, Java, Python)
  • Business Practitioners & Economists
  • UI/UX Designers

SCHEDULE

FRIDAY 17 NOV
18:00 – 19:00
Reception and Networking: Get comfortable and get to know one another

19:00 – 21:30
Keynote Presentations: Introductions and food for thought
– Jörg Blumtritt (Datarella)
– Dominik Schiener (IOTA)

SATURDAY 18 NOV
9:00 – 9:30
Breakfast and Coffee: Fuel up for the Hackathon

9:30 – 10:15
Individual Introductions: Barcamp style three keywords per person
30 Second Elevator Pitches: Explain your idea, build a team that can execute it!

10:15 – 11:00
Team Building: Chat with team leaders of interest & decide which team you want to hack with.

11:00 – 12:00
Speakers round: Getting started with IOTA: Dev Tools & Resources from Baltic Data Science

12:30 – 13:30
Lunch Break: Enjoy some delicious food and get ready

13:30 – 16:30
Time to Hack: Build, Test, Iterate

16:30 – 16:45
Movement Break: Get your blood pumping!

16:45 – 19:30
Time to Hack: Build, Test, Iterate

19:30 – 20:30
Dinner Break: Take some time to nourish the body and get ready for the all nighter to come!

20:30 – Late
Hack Till Your Heart’s Content: It’s up to you. The accelerator is open all night. Code till you drop.

SUNDAY 19 NOV
9:00 – 9:30
Breakfast and Coffee: Fuel up for the final day

9:30 – 12:30
Hacking and Presentation Prep: Get your demos running!

12:30 – 13:30
Lunch Break: Nutrition for the final stretch

13:30 – 14:00
One Last Check: Audio Visual and Tech Check for Demos

14:00 – 16:30
Demo Presentations: Show us what you’re made of!

16:30 – 17:30
Jury Session: Enjoy some refreshments while the jury deliberates

17:30 – 20:30
Awards Ceremony: Celebrate with the winners, network and celebrate

APPLICATION
To apply for the IOTA HACKATHON 2017 register now!
Don’t wait for too long – the number of participants is limited.

LOCATION
Lęborska 3b, 80-386 Gdańsk
NIP: 583-290-74-40

Based on our experiences with hackathons we think that Gdansk, Poland, is a perfectly suited location for this IOTA hackathon. Looking forward to hacking with you!

Know And Speak To Your Customer Through The IoT

Equipped with sensors and microchips, ever more of objects can communicate, with each other and with human beings – the Internet of Things and Humans is born. Even washing powder is set to become smart through attached sensors on its packaging that detects when the product is being used, and that communicates with readers like smartphones when scanned. From today’s 5 billion to 21 billion by 2020, the number of wirelessly connected things will increase. 

Who will profit from the Internet of Things – or IoT – most?
Let’s look at the obvious applications, first: Stock-keeping and supply-chain management processes will have implemented technologies making objects communicating with each other, thus enabling businesses to follow the progress of their products from factories to shops to end-consumers. Espresso beans will tell baristas about the best temperature to keep them in stock. Batteries will inform their owners when reaching the last phase of their power-providing lives.
From our perspective, however, the biggest potential lies in customer relations. Brands are realizing that the best way to sell their products is to build personal relations with customers rather than to spend lavishly on marketing. Until today, many brands come only second behind retailers with regards to communication to their customers. Often, it’s the retailer who knows the customers‘ preferences best, and who is able to retain them through loyalty schemes. Ask yourself: where do you buy your stuff? Online retailers are the ones understanding their customers best, often they have the complete customer journey available.

Speak to your customer
Now it becomes cheaper to add sensors and microchips to products, and to connect them to the internet. The direct result of the IoT is a huge influx of customer or end-user data. Whereas nobody at manufacturers and brands had to – or better: was able to – gather data of actual customer behavior so far, there now arrives Big Data describing everything these companies have ever wanted to know. In theory, this data will help them develop their products and services more rapidly, fix any bugs more quickly and tailor products better to their end-users‘ needs.

In practice, the gigantic flood of data may imply significant structural changes for manufacturers: is the IT infrastructure set to cope with Big Data? Is the IT personnel eqipped with the necessary knowledge amd experience to handle data sampling and dara storage correctly? Are there adequate in-house resources to munge and analyze the data? And, after all, will anybody visualize and instrumentalize the data in a meaningful way? Sure, there already are best practices regarding individual steps of this Big Data process. And for each part of the process, there are tools that can be used a software-as-a-service. But it`s a long way from data sampling to a smoothly managed customer relation through objects.

A new era of competition
Managing and optimizing the company’s own customer relations through the IoT is just one part of the equation: when retailers start a direct communication with their end-users, retailers won’t passively stand on the sidelines. They will fight back trying to defend their position of being „first-to-the-customer‘. And on the operative level, retailers have a big advantage: they have always been the ones with a direct contact to the customer. They know their customers (or at least they should). Everybody who switched from working in a company without direct contact to the customer to an end-user shop has experienced a cultural clash: you won’t imagine the expectations of a typical end-user – i.e. ourselves. Let alone all additional privacy and cyber-security issues.

That said, the IoT offers manufacturers the biggest opportunity since the industrialization. They can understand and learn from their customers. They can even partner with them. But first they have to do their homework and provide all the needed resources in IT infrastructure, processes, and human resources.