Saturday, April 2, 2016

Women Engineer in Training: BostonHacks 2015 Hackathon

BostonHacks was a hackathon that I attended October 2015. I've been a beta tester for Microsoft's Azure software ever since then and wanted to share my hackathon experience with you all. 


My Project Learning Outcomes from BostonHacks:

What did I do? My team and I worked on a textbased videogame integrated with the Microsoft band and with a Halloween creepy theme. 

My task was to work on the integration of the Microsoft Band to the game. The Microsoft band is a fitness wearable, similar to the Fitbit. So after playing around with the band, I went to a Microsoft Band workshop hosted by one of the Microsoft engineers to get an idea of how to get started and the band features. 

Here are some quick snapshots from the Intro to Microsoft Band workshop:


Microsoft Band

The Microsft Band is wearable tech with a touch screen displayand 10 sensors . Probably works similar to the Apple Watch.

Microsoft Band

The Microsoft Band does have the capabilty to connect to your phone (assuming phones with Windows or Andriod phones only?). So if you wanted an Apple Watch but you have the new Galaxy, then try out the Microsoft band. 


Microsoft Band

The slide above is a description of the 10 sensors that the band has.  If you want to do a route tracker (i.e. map my run) you need to use a mobile application (i.e. Runkeeper, etc.), because the band doesn’t have GPS capabilities. 


Microsoft Band

This final slide is a list of resources that I could use during the hackathon to be eligible for specific prizes but also complete my project. I ended up using Microsoft Azure and winning a prize for the site I created with Azure.

Notes about the Microsoft Band:

What is it? http://www.techradar.com/news/portable-devices/other-devices/microsoft-band-5-things-you-need-to-know-1271135

  • The main fuction of the band is to take in data and send out data.
  •  My team must build an app that runs on a PC to take advantage of all of the bands features. Building a web app would make it quicker to store data and finish front end development within the 24 hours of the hackathon.
  • Band runs on Bluetooth to connect with your device.
  • Data collected from the band can be analyzed and sent to cloud for later usage. My team wanted to optimize this feature, which is another reason to build a web app versus a mobile app... easier access to cloud storage.
  • The text based videogame can do vibrations (cool idea: Morse code messages or spurts of vibration to creep out players and connect with the Halloween theme)
  • Microsoft band application idea:
“MAN GPS”; Watch vibrates for men to know directions given from phone (1 vibrate = left, 2 vibrates= right). Men don’t ask for directions so, increase your masculinity by not even having to track a GPS on your phone. Look like a man that keeps track of time for his oh-so-important business schedule by, having a watch that guides you instead of a phone map. Map is connected to phone through Bluetooth.



My Halloween costume during the hackathon. AKA a random dress in my closet with a masquerade mask XOXO

One of my team mates and I with free web domains

Microsoft put together software development kits (SDK) for: ios, andriod, and windows. If you are interested in developing a web application, Microsoft has a cloud to store data in as well. 

However, I was surprised to find out that the band is not provided with gesture/movement sensors. Kind of like a Wii remote, the sensors that can track if the user is waving in a specific direction. To achieve such capabilities, I found a Stack overflow site (http://stackoverflow.com/questions/29829832/how-can-i-recognise-a-microsoft-band-gesture), this article will help you to:
  1. Recognize gesture on the Microsoft band
  2. Program the gestures ourselves
  3. Look up band SDKs and use sample code to get started
In the end, I had multiple complications with the Microsoft software development kits and was not able to connect the band to our game. However, this conclusion was made after seeking guidance from the Microsoft reps at BostonHacks and asking everyone at the hackathon, who was also using the Microsoft Band, if they were able to get anything work. It was easy to connect with all the teams because, there were only 10 bands being used and not one team could successfully implement the band. So, BostonHacks was a learning experience.

My BostonHacks Team, awesome ladies! When I go to hackathons, I always join teams with people that I don't know and thankfully, my experiences have been productive and positive! Quite frankly, also inspiring! An all-women hacking team...?! Women Engineers in Training!

Comment below: Do you use a fitbit, Microsoft Band, or Apple Watch? What's your fave feature?

Grammarly yours, SemirahD

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