Pusher and the Internet of Things at Hydrahack: Part Deux

It’s been a busy week at Pusher! I’ve been on the road this week, and it’s always great to go out there and meet the people who make our products great – the makers that use our API to create brilliant real-time experiences – as well as those that may not have used our product before. I’ve had the opportunity to meet both types of people this week that I wanted to share with you all.

Last week, I visited HydraHack in Birmingham. For those who missed my blogpost last week about it, HydraHack is an event put on by 383 Project’s Leon Barrett in Vertu Bar, situated in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. I pitched up at about 6pm and had the pleasure to talk to some of Birmingham’s makers and hacker scene.

Around 60 people attended – mostly developers but we also had a good number of creatives and business-thinkers on site, making this one of the most diverse events that I’ve spoken at so far.

The theme for this meet-up was the Internet of Things. I covered what this means in my last post, and we at Pusher are very excited to be in on the ground floor in this exciting trend in computing. We believe we provide a great service to power the new generation of internet connected devices, backed by WebSockets and with abstractions available for many different languages and devices.

Leon took to the stage first to talk about his experiences as a developer working on IoT projects and showed off a really interesting hack using our API and geofencing, to track the location of his wife as she travels home from work. Leon has kindly provided us with a video of his hack to show here:

I was preceded by two fantastic talks by Jing Lu of Black Country Atelier and Scott Crowther of the University of Warwick. Jing spoke about her experiences travelling the country, delivering “tailor made events and workshops for schools and cultural venues”, and told us about how she used Arduinos and 3D printers. Sounds like a lot of fun to me! Scott gave an inspiring talk about the state of the IoT and painted a picture of a promising future for the Internet of Things that we can all get excited about.

I took to the stage shortly after to speak about how Pusher can provide the missing piece of the real-time IoT puzzle. A quick show of hands at the beginning of the talk showed me that not many people in the room had used our API before – a prime opportunity for me to try and impress! I talked briefly about how there’s never been a better time to start tinkering with IoT hardware; the hardware and software are cheaper and easier than ever before, and the protocols to make something like IoT work well are maturing well and still evolving.

I then spoke about the core features of our service that make us a great fit for IoT devices:

  • WebSockets Everywhere. We provide you with a number of client and server libraries backed by our infrastructure, that abstracts away some of the nastier bits involved with running a real-time app based on WebSockets. With our consistent API and documentation, you can get up and running publishing events (almost) instantly from your IoT device within a matter of minutes.
  • Client Events allow devices to message and trigger events on other devices subscribed to the same channel.
  • Presence Channels provide you with a simple way to get information about all the users connected to a particular channel, providing plenty of scope for “Who’s in the room?”-style hacks.
  • WebHooks allow you to trigger actions on other APIs and web services by sending a JSON encoded “notification” to them.

I took a moment or so to give a shout out two makers in our community who created fantastic libraries for using in IoT projects. Kevin Rohling created a fantastic C++ based abstraction for use with Arduino devices, so that you can send messages to an Arduino and have the device perform an action when an event is triggered.

I also spoke about a new Node.js client library by Dirk Bonhomme of TwitSpark, perfect for use on Linux based hardware like the Raspberry Pi and Tessel. It’s a very well written, well tested library that provides a large majority of the features that our pusher-js library has.

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Following my talk, quite a number of people came up and asked questions about our API, which is always a good sign. I met a number of developers who seemed very interested about what our service had to offer and hoped to use our service on future projects. Hopefully I answered all of your questions and I’ll get to see some of the cool stuff you’ve been making very soon!

Thanks again to Leon for having me. I’m at a number of events over the coming months, so if you see me, come and say hello and chat about your project. I genuinely enjoy hearing about all the cool stuff the makers in our community are coming up with. If you don’t see me and have questions about anything we do at Pusher, feel free to give me a shout via Twitter.

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