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AT&T M2M Challenge

By , 13 Dec 2012

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See full details for the M2M Challenge.

 

Trucks, turbines, medical devices, vending machines, robots, industrial machinery. When was the last time you had the chance to write code to monitor and control smart devices like these over a 3G network?  

Whether they’d worked on machine-to-machine applications in the last few hours, or maybe never on M2M in their lives, developers from all aroud came to the M2M Challenge at the 2013 AT&T Developer Summit Hackathon at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, just before Consumer Electronics Show.

Why an M2M Challenge?

First of all, a two-day hackathon is a useful and résumé-enhancing way of avoiding all the congestion at the airport on your way to CES. It's a great way to spend some quality time working with a team of smart people to invent a smart device.

Second, AT&T was the host for the M2M Challenge, and they provided the playground, the teachers (just the ones who make the playground fun) and all the toys. Like:

  • development kits – Arduino boards with 3G connectivity
  • sensors for the Arduino boards
  • 3G network 
  • Axeda M2M platform (see below)
  • code samples and entire reference applications for connecting to the M2M cloud
  • M2M app development experts
  • free meals and drinks
  • $10,000 in prize money for the best and most creative M2M idea and fully implemented prototype

Finally, it was free to register and attend. The three-day Developer Summit was $150, including the Hackathon, but if you wanted to attend only the Hackathon, it was free. That’s "free" as in "free code," "free M2M platform access," and "free chance to win ten grand."

What’s unique is that hackathons like this usually promote a particular – usually proprietary – hardware module. By building this hackathon around an open-source board like Arduino, we were telling you that you could get onto the network and experiment with the M2M platform with a device configured any way you want, doing anything you want.

You could wait a long time and spend a lot of money to get an M2M playground with this many resources, and at the M2M Challenge you got it for two whole days at no cost. So that’s what’s in it for you.

What was in it for AT&T? Obviously, they wanted developers and enterprises to know about their 3G network and run their M2M applications and smart devices over it, because there’s big potential for growth in this market.

And we wanted you to test-drive the AT&T M2M Application Platform Powered by Axeda. At the Hackathon, people were able to write rules and logic for your applications on the M2M platform, expose the results through APIs and Web Services to the cloud, and write cloud-based Web applications to run your smart devices.

But the biggest thing in it for both of us was watching you come up with a smart device. The $10,000 prize went to the team that used all capabilities available: device (Arduino and sensors), 3G mobile connectivity, Axeda scripting and application platform, AT&T mobile APIs and Axeda cloud APIs.

M2M – What’s the fuss?

What do you think of when you hear "M2M?" Smart meters? mHealth? Supply chain optimization? Telematics? Point of sale?

M2M development is different from desktop software development, or even mobile app development, for a few reasons.

  • The tools are different. You can try to create M2M apps with the same tools you’ve used all this time for your other enterprise apps, but they probably won’t scale very well. Designing an app to collect data from a few machines on a factory floor is a not the same as designing one that can receive data from thousands of devices in real time and translate that data into useful information.
  • The hardware is different. You’re not writing for mobile phones or the usual PC architectures. In fact, M2M is more like hardware development, because you need to understand the embedded module design of the machine you’re connecting to. (We’re using the Arduino, a single-board microcontroller, at the M2M Challenge because it’s a simple, open-source, accessible module that will show you how easy it is to build a prototype M2M device with sensors.)
  • The business is different. Most M2M apps aren’t the kind of thing you find in a mobile app store. They’re more complex and take longer to develop, and they usually cost a lot more than $1.99.

The differences are big enough that it can take longer than you think to implement M2M in your enterprise applications, so AT&T and Axeda are assigning device and platform experts to the M2M Challenge. If you come up with a bright enough idea and a hot enough prototype, they’ll be able to show you how to take them to US-wide deployment in months rather than years.

Update

The AT&T M2M Challenge was a big hit. We had over 500 developers participated in the AT&T Hackathon and about ten M2M applications were created within 24 hours.

1st Place winner: M2M Rocket

M2M rocket allows the user to use an iPhone app to remotely aim and launch a model rocket through the internet based on proximity sensor data it received from the M2M device.

 

2nd place winner: Canary

A connected and social home safety system to help you save lives, protect your assets, and involve the people that care about us the most in our safety.

3rd place winner: Good times

Our mobile devices are a blessing and a curse. As they facilitate our life they are also a constant source of interruptions. With Good Time you will be receiving phone calls only when you are not focused on any specific task.

It is worth mentioning that Good Times is also the Grand prize winner ($30K cash prize) of the FastPitch Challenge on stage during the Developer Summit. It is being featured at:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/10/opinion/ces-keen-bunny-ears/index.html

Congratulations to all AT&T M2M Challenge winners!

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License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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Mats Samuelsson

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