Thursday, 5 February 2015

Women Who Code

Women Who Code is a non-profit organisation, dedicated to helping women excel in technology careers. Their headquarters is in San Francisco but they have operations in 15 countries around the world, including in the UK. I was fortunate to meet the Women Who Code London leader, Gen Ashley (Twitter: @coderinheels) at Droidcon in London last year. We got talking and the result was an opportunity for me to speak at one of the group's regular meetups.

I spoke at last night's meetup and talked about the rise of Bluetooth Smart, it's background as a key, low power wireless technology that was designed for the Internet of Things (IoT) and moved on to show the attendees what's involved in creating Bluetooth Smart devices and how to develop corresponding applications for Android smart phones. Much of this was based around a resource for developers called the Bluetooth Smart Starter Kit. You can download it from the Bluetooth SIG developer web site and then go through its various projects to learn to develop Bluetooth Smart devices using an Arduino platform or Bluetooth Smart applications for iOS, Android, Windows Phone or BlackBerry 10.

Explaining the Bluetooth Smart Starter Kit

One of the key topics covered before getting into the coding concerned recent and imminent new capabilities of Bluetooth Smart which allow devices to interact with the internet i.e. internet or IP connected devices in a variety of ways.


I also did a demo of a smart lighting product and described how it worked in terms of its client / server architecture, its use of Bluetooth Smart and the role of its embedded firmware.


There was a quiz at the end which posed three questions based upon the content of the session and the lighting demo in particular. I was delighted to be able to give away three prizes; a Redbear Labs Bluetooth Smart shield, a Broadcom WICED Sense and a Texas Instruments SensorTag. I'm sure they've gone to good homes and will be well looked after :-)

Quiz Time

I don't think I've every had so many good questions at the end of a talk. These gave me the opportunity to talk about beacons, about security in general and about how Bluetooth addresses privacy issues and can stop you from being tracked via your device's advertising by varying the MAC address it uses in advertising packets.

The event was hosted by Badoo and their very own Kelly (Twitter: @KtKellyTran) was a great help with the AV set up and generally making me feel welcome :-)

There was lots of nice food and I had a good chat with various people at the end. I think I might even have inadvertently let slip my plan to build a robot army out of Lego Mindstorms (Bluetooth controlled of course) but that's a whole other story. There were all sorts of somewhat more sensible ideas from other more sane people and at least one person was teetering on the brink of deciding to go and set up a start-up!

A great evening. Thanks to Women Who Code and Gen for inviting me to speak.

My presentation can be downloaded here.

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