Emma, our office manager, has forbidden us any office pets of the higher orders. She has said she’ll allow hissing cockroaches, which was a singularly unpopular option. (Emma has a PhD in entomology – the study of insects – and we’re worried she’s serious.)
Hissing cockroaches, like dogs, tend to wander (cockroaches do it in more of a scuttling style than dogs, but the principle holds), and in a large office with many rooms, it can be hard to locate your pet. So we are extremely impressed by the problem-solving hacking of the folks at Red Pepper, a digital agency in Atlanta and Nashville, whose office dog is a) adorable and b) bionic. Bean the greyhound wears a collar fitted with a beacon, and Red Pepper’s office is equipped with three bluetooth-sniffing Raspberry Pis, so she can be located at all times.
We are unclear on whether this approach will work with cockroaches.
Matt Reed, Bean’s caretaker, and Red Pepper’s hacker-of-things, is behind the project. He says:
Beacons are usually placed in stationary locations such as displays or areas of interest in retail stores. They emit a polling signal every second or so that any device with BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) can pick up, your phone being one of them. That signal includes a few unique IDs and a value called an RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator) which basically tells how close you are to the beacon.
If you have an app that is configured to listen for a beacon with a certain ID it can make things happen behind the scenes. For instance, at a retailer, the app could determine if you’re standing in front of a pair of jeans and then tell a server on the internet this information. The server can then send out a push notification giving you a deal on jeans.
For Sniffur we flipped this scenario and put the normally stationary beacon on a moving dog. The signal strength then emits from the dog for our three antennas to pick up and process.
You can read more about the build, and about Bean, over at Red Pepper’s website. Thanks Matt – please give Bean a cookie for us!