I recently had the great fortune to be invited as one of the technical mentors in an M2M Hackfest at Olympia in London a little while ago. If you haven't come across hackathons before, they are usually sponsored events, where programmers are invited to come along and compete for prizes around a brief using supplied technologies.

In our big bag of things, we made available a number of AR Drones, some Sphero’s a few Raspberry Pi’s, some Arduino’s, Makey Makey’s,  a MessageSight appliance, NodeRed and of course MQTT as the transport protocol. Oh and bananas. 

We wanted to give the hackers the opportunity for as much hilarity as possible, so our brief was:

Repel a virtual Robopocalypse with the tech' provided.  How you repel that robot horde do that is entirely up to you. As a result, over the couple of days we saw an evolution of something quite wonderful. Check out the video of the initial idea being formed...

The idea...

So here we have introduced some of the tech and made it work together – and did you hear mention of the bananas?  There will be more banana action later.

Our goal, along with having immense amounts of fun, was to demonstrate that the technology we were using to do some fairly involved things, was within anyones reach and that to accomplish something meaningful (although i guess fending off the robopocalypse with fruit might stretch the meaning of meaningful to a degree) didn't require weeks of effort.

Just to demonstrate how simple this stuff is to use. We show how you can actually draw your own controller with paper and pencil and then use it as an interface to an application.  And then of course there was the introduction to the banana controller and things only get stranger from there.

One thing I wanted to mention, was this NodeRed thing that I was mention in the video.  This is a freebie - and it allows you to do all sorts of things with MQTT messaging and acts as a hub. This hub will allow you to take in messages either from MQTT, or even from social media such as Twitter, interrogate the message and then trigger other applications by passing on the relevent pieces of information in the orginal message. 

After some serious fruit manipulation, the next evolution of The Internet of Things began…. 

The Internet of Fruit

It was here that man first used fruit  to control an application that uses MessageSight and MQTT to repel our Robot overlords. It was simple to do and incredible fun.

But it was not without risk. Fruit based interfaces are an art not a science, as can be seen in the following video.

It was here that man first used fruit to control the internet of things

Now that you have seen the technology in action, why not try something similar yourself…?

You can grab the software for free, straight from GitHub, just do a search for MessageSight.  Here we will see the developers edition of MessageSight, which is free. And you can grab the JMS clients for free too, so you can get cracking right away. Have fun constructing the next evolution of our robot saviours, or overlords, the choice is yours.