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Spouse Alert – a Useful IoT Hack

During this week I participated in a Hackathon to increase my own skills and work with my work team. I decided to do a quick project using the Particle Core!

A lot of times during the day my husband wears headphones and it’s hard to get his attention. I thought it might be fun to create a flashing light device that gets his attention whenever I needed him. I set it up with a few different color functionalities, and used the topper from our wedding cake to set the Particle Button inside. The Button has a ring of muti-colored LEDs that can be activated with the use of a simple API call.

I used a fork of the basic Button code, which is on my GitHub here, and created the “SpouseAlert” script. Using Particle Build, I then flashed the code to my device.  Here’s what the chip looks like with the lights on and flashing (red, in this case)

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Then I wrote a short Web App to activate the different lights. Using the Windows Voice Commands QuickStart I was able to create an app that could be activated either by clicking or by voice. If I say “Particle, Spouse Alert!” it will open up the app page with the appropriate alert selected.

Here’s the app – it’s pretty simple but it gets the job done. And yes, I used a phone to take a picture of a phone…

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I can also activate the lights using a call to Yo. Yo is a silly app but it does something simple – sends a “Yo” message to a person or thing. That means it’s pretty fast if you want to send a “Yo” to an object. In this case, I’m activating the call to Yo with If This, Then That. I learned about this trick from David Washington, whose Super Bowl touchdown light project was an inspiration for me to try the Particle Button!

After putting all the code together, I fit the Particle Button underneath my wedding cake topper. Yes, I saved it all this time… all I had to do was carve a couple holes in it for the wiring. Here it is lit up!

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Now when I activate the app it uses a few different patterns of bright lights to send an alert. I hope it’ll help out with communication for us for a while! I think a device like this would also be useful for people whose spouses are hard of hearing. Different colors and flash patterns could be used to send different quick messages, and you don’t even have to be at home!

Hopefully soon I’ll post a tutorial for interacting with the Particle on Channel 9. Also, I’m teaching an Intro to Particle at Walnut Street Labs’ iSchool in September! You can join me the evening of September 9 and I’ll show how to get started with Particle and make simple experiences like this one!

 

Philly “Move Your Body” Game Jam

The game jam at Philly Dev Night this month was a huge success! I was really happy to be able to sponsor such a cool event and participate in playing all the games!

The secret theme that we announced at the event July 2 was “Move your body.” This year I’ve gotten really interested in gamifying ways to get fit, between Xbox Fitness and Fitbit… and I was wondering what other great movement-based game ideas that people would have. Microsoft sponsored by catering the game showcase on July 16. Here’s a look at some of the games!

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The crowd favorite game (by popular vote) was Headbanger. Headbanger consisted of an iPhone attached to a long-haired rock ‘n’ roll wig. Music played (through hooked up speakers, so the crowd could also hear) and the headbanger player had to bang his/her head in time with the music. Pictures were hard to take because the headbanging was so fast and furious!

Up close: a scrambled brain

Up close: a scrambled brain

Dancing Master used up to four Xbox 360 controllers to control feet on the screen and step in time with music. The twist is literally twisting…. The controls for the game involve using one stick and set of shoulder buttons, on each side of the controller, for each foot. It was surprisingly difficult to get things to line up! But it had a great selection of music and was fun to watch.

A few games were on the iPad – one rolling ball demo involved holding the iPad still to avoid the ball onscreen rolling off. Drumandala was developed as an iPad or PC game, but worked better on the touch screen, using fingers to tap shapes in a shooter-like, but zen, atmosphere.

One jammer took the theme “Move your body” literally, and made an adventure/stealth game about how to most effectively hide a corpse. This was improved by the addition of sloppy awkward ragdoll physics on the corpse… oh, and Will Stallwood’s photograph attached to the head for an ounce of realism.

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A couple of non-digital games were also displayed. Jake O’Brien called his game entry  Sight is Over Rated. Two teams worked together, with one blindfolded member and one member telling the blindfolded teammate how to move. The object of the game was for the blindfolded team mate to pick up cards from the table while avoiding an obstacle course of cups.

Safari Sock Hop was another purely analog game, involving pantomime to music. Cards handed out to two two-person teams told them what animal to mimic, and what type of dance they should do while pretending to be that animal. Here’s a tap-dancing octopus, for example:

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My personal favorite game of the jam was Cipher Prime’s game, which was just called Bodies. This game encouraged all the players to get up and walk around the city, several blocks around the building. Their smartphones would give them a “hot and cold” interface when they were close to a point of interest, and then when they were close enough, a riddle appeared onscreen. If they took a photograph that matched the answer for the riddle, they got a point. Cipher Prime wants to eventually expand this game to allow people to create customized geotagged scavenger hunts for each other.

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I was really proud to take part in this jam. The games were great and there was a ton of energy! Thanks to Philly Dev Night for a great time! For the curious, Dev Night does game jams monthly! Just check the schedule at http://phillydevnight.com.

 

Leaving for Origins!

Tomorrow we’re taking off for the Origins Game Fair in Columbus!

How exciting is this: this year I’m going to be DMing a couple of sessions with Rogue Cthulhu! I love playing in their games every year, and this year I’ve finally got the courage to run my own!

But you don’t need me to make posts about my travel anymore. As you can see, I’ve added a handy Events Page to show you where I’ll be. Just check it out here: SecondTruth Events

Best of Build and Windows 10

Now some important news from Microsoft for developers out there:

Build sold out in record time this year, so a lot of people may have missed out. If you’re one of those unlucky few, there’s a few ways to catch up on news…

Microsoft Virtual Academy has a “Best of Build and Windows 10” video series you can check out! It goes into the new app model, news for game developers, info about the new Edge browser, IoT, open-source, and more.

And for more in depth Windows 10 development content, a free live-streamed event will be held on the same web site starting tomorrow! Register now for A Developer’s Guide to Windows 10.

Or, if you’re near a major city and want to venture outside, check out the Build Tour. Day-long live events may be coming to your country/area! We have Atlanta coming up on May 20, and Chicago on June 10, and lots more. These events are international so one may be closer to home than you think! Look it up at https://www.build15.com/

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MomJam – The Voxelles Mother’s Day Game Jam

I’ve remarked quite a bit in the past about “Dad Games:” the gamification of fatherhood that seemed to be a recent fad in AAA game design. But the inevitable question arises: where are all the Mom Games?

When I say “games about moms,” many people mention “well, there’s that one with the badgers” (Shelter). Cart Life has an honest exploration of human motherhood. Moms do show up in blockbuster games, but often as antagonists. Now Sonya Blade can perform a fatality on her own daughter, which… has some psychological ramifications I’m sure. But surely games about motherhood is a topic that needs more exploration.

This month the Voxelles, Chicago’s female game development group, had a Mother’s Day Game Jam about this very topic! And I was there! Continue reading

Amanda Lange's Blog