TNW’s Battle of the Sensors

Written by Tom Offringa on 22nd May 2017

Every year at The Next Web Conference in Amsterdam, the code-savvy visitors can join the ‘The Next Web Hack Battle’. After a successful hack battle last year, a couple of colleagues and friends decided to attend this year as well. We had a big team of 8 members from all sorts of disciplines.

This year, the hack battle theme was “Battle of the Sensors”. TNW organized it with partners like The Things Network, MessageBird, Mollie, Triggi, Toon, and more! At the beginning of our brainstorm, we thought of several ideas that seemed either too small or were already done previous years (how busy is the toilet…). After a while we came up with the idea to make a smart panic button for elderly people to press when in need.

The idea

The idea was to configure a button via The Things Network, which would ultimately send an SMS using the MessageBird API, and execute a phone call to all the numbers configured in the portal.

We decided to use the Django REST Framework for our backend and React for our frontend. Because IBM Bluemix was also a partner, we wanted to use their services to deploy our Docker containers. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get our two Docker containers to communicate with each other. We’ve spent a lot of time discussing this with the IBM support guys but eventually decided to deploy our stack on Heroku for the sake of efficiency. Hopefully, the IBM guys learned something from us as well and will work on their Docker implementation a bit more.

The idea of a smart panic button isn’t revolutionary or original in any way but gave us a good direction in using as many of the provided partners’ services. In the end, we used The Things Network, Triggi, Radix, Bluemix (but failed, so used Heroku), and MessageBird. We also came up with some ideas to implement Mollie to pay and up your MessageBird credits as well as paying for quickly.press as a service. We couldn’t get this working in time because of the time limit.

The portal

Above you can see the portal, with buttons to configure family data and government data (homecare, government-related agencies), settings (to configure the button, your own name and phone number), and a (non-working) “add new”-button for adding other future services. When you for example click on the family button, you can easily edit or remove family members and their phone numbers, and the times they’re available.

The logo represents a medical cross that connects to dots to each other (the elderly person using the button and the configured phone numbers).

The minimal viable product

We decided our minimal viable product (MVP) was to have a portal where you could add, edit and delete family m