Biceps in this image may appear larger than in reality (lens distortion)

Biceps in this image may appear larger than in reality (lens distortion)

I had the opportunity to be apart of the Moonshine Laboratory GovHack team this year. Over the 48 hours we had to build something using public datasets we came up with BUZZSTOP.

With comprehensive public transport data available its time to start thinking about how that information can be used to help the commuter when it is relevant. For all of that data only a small sliver is needed at one moment but that data is invaluable. Checking the weather in the morning using an app is so quick and simple which can mean the difference between a jacket or a raincoat. Being able to see realtime arrival times can change if we have enough time to drop into the shops on our journey home or if a second service will be waiting at an interchange.

This project wasn't necessarily about the app itself. Our objective was to focus on the use of the data, to show how invaluable it can be even for the everyday commute. Using Bluetooth beacon technology will allow identification of a stop or a vehicle to contextualise the important information without user intervention.

Moreover, making the contextual data available automatically will allow commuters with vision impairments to be able to use public transit with more confidence and efficiency when only the absolutely necessary information is displayed (available with VoiceOver) without the presence of potentially irrelevant, disruptive data.

This is only the very tip of a deep, churning iceberg. From the introduction of such a small passive device and idea of how to use the data we can achieve such a wealth of information and efficiency to improve our interaction with public transport.


Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published four of Apple’s latest trademark filings for “iBeacon.”
— Patently Apple, linked

One of the four trademark applications classes the use of 'iBeacon' for "financial services". Wether that is just a general cover for integration with Passbook or something larger only time will tell.

Android 4.3: Bluetooth Smart ready

Great to hear that it is now in a build of Android. With Apple leading the way, WP8 following and now Android its about to get very noisy on the 2.4Ghz spectrum.

I had a peak at the Android API documentation to see what it's like on the other side of the fence. What a very different place it is.

Core Bluetooth on iOS is quite a high level API. The developer is guarded from having to manage scanning and raw data formatting, to name two things. The Bluetooth LE API in Android is very raw, barebones stuff. 

But, as much as I want to see BLE in use by the masses I cant help but think of the following when it comes to Android:

  1. Android 4.3 will be slowly adopted like its previous OS updates, patchy support for hardware
  2. Bluetooth Smart capable devices have generally only been the latest generation, this years, devices
  3. Will there be any compatibility issues with some hardware devices being BLE capable but not able to support this API?

Living in the iOS walled garden provides a level of certainty and predictability. Its mature and starting to bear some fruitful features like iBeacon. Android has some catching up to do. The best thing for Android is that it could come down to a developer creating a very good higher level API framework to make it more accessible for other developers.

Preparing for the iPhone Next

MG talking about the next iPhone & NFC rumours:

But the fact of the matter is that NFC has simply not taken off in the U.S. (it has been around for a long time in some Asian countries). See: Google Wallet adoption as the prime example of just how few fucks are given.

Yup. Lets skip NFC and go straight to Bluetooth 4 with Low Energy. It's already in the iPhone 4S with public API support coming very soon.