Archive | July 2015

KLM’s Apple Watch app catches your plane

Just a few weeks ago, Apple released its watch in The Netherlands on July 17th. KLM took advantage of this Dutch launch to release their Watch app simultaneously. We built it, KLM integrated it within their iOS app and AKQA did the design. So after playing with your new Apple Watch for almost two weeks now, it’s time to put it into action and see how your watch can make catching your plane more convenient!

WatchKit

In order to be on time for the Dutch launch of the Apple Watch, we had to come up with and build the KLM Watch app in just over a month. Smartwatches, being quite new devices, offer a lot of cool possibilities, but also quite a few constraints. Our challenge was to build an app that adds real value to the experience of catching your plane. We developed it with WatchKit, and even though the framework only offers a single glance with no custom buttons and lots of other restrictions, we believe we built something really awesome that allows you to always be one step ahead on your journey.

Catching your plane

When you’re on the way to catch your plane, the last thing you want to do is to go through a stack of paper to check every step of your journey. That’s why KLM offers their smartphone app. It gives you all the information you need, as well as the possibility to organise and make changes to your journey. But the closer you get to your well-prepared departure, the less you need all those features. While catching your plane, simpler is better.

That’s where the Watch app (integrated in the iOS smartphone app) steps in. Two days before your flight, you want to know which terminal to go to. Two hours before, which seat you’re assigned to. The app knows what information you want and gives you only what you need, when you need it. It’s context-based and shows, among other things, upcoming flights, your terminal, your gate and your seat. At the airport itself, beacons in the lounge will tell you the walking time to your gate. You only have to glance at your wrist to be reassured you’re on the right track and your flight is still departing on time.

So, go download the KLM iOS app now and don’t forget your Apple Watch – you’ll be checking your flight like you check the time. Safe travels!

benbenet jumpstart: connecting 2.5 billion people with satellites

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A jumpstart to help 2.5 billion people connect to each other with satellites? Sign us up!

Today, exactly that number of people don’t have access to the same modern communications infrastructure that we in the Western hemisphere do. benbenet is an organisation founded to develop technology to bring that infrastructure to the “Bottom of the Pyramid” – people who get by on just $2 a day. So, last week it was time to jumpstart our hearts out again by coding an NFC app for messaging and banking independently from existing networks using satellites! Tuesday was a serious deadline to shine with a working prototype, as that was when the big demo for prospective investors and experts who are in charge of making the pilot a reality took place.

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benbenet

benbenet is an initiative founded by Pieter and Vuk to bring communication and financial services to people who normally have no access to means of online communication and banking systems, which are the two critical resources to escape poverty.

benbenet’s solution is digital inclusion. It wants to do that by building a resilient, ubiquitous, independent network with low cost satellites; developing a low cost device for text and payment; giving free access to the abovementioned “bottom of the pyramid”, and letting providers pay for this access. A goal that can come across as a moonshot to some, but we believe it’s achievable when taken on in the right order.

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Jumpstart

That’s where our jumpstart comes in. Such an ambitious goal can come across as unattainable to prospective investors. They hear a lot of pitches and, well, they just want to see proof. Proof that this is the solution they want to get involved with. In this case that’s a working prototype of the device and its software that’s able to text and make payments both on- and offline, independently from existing commercial networks. This working prototype shows that on a technical level there are no limitations to reaching the final goal. It’s a proof that shows how viable benbenet’s vision is.

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This jumpstart consisted of one week of realtime coding and interface designing. We started off the week by brainstorming with benbenet about which features were musts for the demo and which were nice-to-haves. We wanted to prove whether it’s plausible to get this project off the ground together and whether people will use the system. So the prototype after this week should technically work and be user friendly for low-literacy and even illiterate people. Therefore, it should be able to text and pay both on- and offline and have an intuitive interface. Both goals we achieved during this one-week jumpstart!

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Demo

The final demo on Tuesday was our hard deadline. It was in front of prospective investors and the experts who are in charge of getting the pilot funded, so it was good motivation to have the best proof of concept ready to see, hold and actually test. Our NFC app on the FAMOCO Android device left everyone in the room in awe when it intuitively onboarded everyone, connected to others, updated their balances and let them text and send money to each other by a simple bump of devices. A successful proof that technology-wise, benbenet has nothing holding them back.

By building a comprehensive intuitive app, this jumpstart showed what can be achieved in just one week! The next step is to refine and define it even more. It’s time to test the device and app in real life. That will be done in a township in South Africa. This pilot will show how benbenet’s business model can work and how our technology can improve everyday life and create better living conditions for the bottom of the pyramid. Keep an eye on us and benbenet if you want to stay in the loop.

DenHaag.com nog slimmer en nog vetter

De site die we sinds de DIA niet meer gewoon site noemen, maar prijswinnende site, is nu nog slimmer en nog vetter. Voor DenHaag.com zijn we samen met Den Haag Marketing en Fabrique continu bezig om de site door te ontwikkelen. En daar hebben we nu een mooie update van.

Slimmer naar Scheveningen

Je kon al sneller naar Scheveningen en nu kun je ook nóg slimmer zo snel mogelijk met je tenen in het strandzand wiebelen. Dat klinkt goed. De lussen in het wegdek zorgen er nog steeds voor dat je weet wat de snelste route naar het strand is. Nu we deze data ook gecombineerd hebben met de data uit de parkeergarages weet je ook waar je precies heen wilt om zo snel mogelijk je auto te parkeren. Slim dus.

Subsites

Naast nog meer ontsloten data (om sneller en slimmer in Scheveningen te komen), banners, een nieuwsbrief functionaliteit, tags en verbeterde zoekresultaten, hebben we twee grote en belangrijke partners als subsites toegevoegd aan DenHaag.com. Namelijk: Den Haag Danst! en Den Haag Topsport. Beide organisaties hadden voorheen hun eigen sites, maar sinds DenHaag.com bestaat wilden ze graag een mooi plekje op deze site. De vrijetijdscontent op en de bezoekers van DenHaag.com zijn namelijk ook relevant voor hun doelen. DenHaag.com als dé bron voor alle vrijetijdscontent blijkt zelfs zo succesvol dat ook andere Haagse partners, initiatieven en organisaties hebben aangegeven een subsite op de site te willen hebben. 

Houd DenHaag.com dus goed in de gaten voor steeds meer gave content én nog meer slimme wegen naar Haagse hotspots.

Rijksprikkers: Rijksmuseum verrijking in ThiemeMeulenhoff’s Schooltas

In de geschiedenismethodes van het Nederlands onderwijs komt de collectie van het Rijksmuseum geregeld voorbij. Het wordt bijvoorbeeld gebruikt om de Nachtwacht en de staatkundige positie van Nederland in de 17e eeuw te laten zien. Tot nu toe waren deze afbeeldingen alleen illustratief, maar inmiddels zijn ze onderdeel van de digitale revolutie in het onderwijs die Schooltas heet. Samen met ThiemeMeulenhoff en Fabrique bouwden wij namelijk: Rijksprikkers. 

API

De Rijksprikkers verrijken de boeken in Schooltas met Rijksmuseum materiaal. Sterker nog het maakt de gehele online collectie van het Rijksmuseum tot potentieel lesstof. Zo maakt ThiemeMeulenhoff het mogelijk dat de collectie van het Rijksmuseum een derde van het Nederlands onderwijsveld bereikt. Dat kan door middel van de API die wij al eerder hebben gebouwd voor het Rijksmuseum. Door de koppeling van deze API in Schooltas zijn de afbeeldingen van Rijksmuseumobjecten in hoge resolutie beschikbaar.

Rijksprikkers

Op die Rijksmuseumobjecten kunnen de editors van Schooltas in de back-end hotspots plaatsen om extra informatie te geven. Een plaatje gaat hierdoor veel meer leven en krijgt zijn eigen unieke verhaal. Door in Schooltas in te zoomen op het schilderij kun je de verschillende Rijksprikkers aanklikken en extra informatie lezen over precies dat punt in het schilderij. Er kunnen zoveel prikkers geplaatst worden als nodig. Het werkt in het bestaande Schooltas-systeem op de iOS app en de web app.

De samenwerking tussen ThiemeMeulenhoff en het Rijksmuseum is interessant omdat het het lesmateriaal verrijkt op een manier die analoog niet mogelijk is. Het is een gave en leerzame toevoeging voor scholieren en voegt door het ontsluiten van het Rijksmuseum-materiaal extra historische waarde toe aan de lesstof in Schooltas.

Girl Code

Last week after months of preparation it was finally time for the first Girl Code, a meetup we organised and hosted for coders and everyone interested in code (yes everyone, all genders were welcome).

Kicking off Girl Code

Besides working on awesome projects, we’re also invested in making code accessible to all. With our foundation Code Uur (the Dutch version of Hour of Code), we’re working to get programming into the syllabus of all school children in the Netherlands. And we don’t just want to inspire kids to code. We want the world of code to be diverse and we realize the gender gap in tech but also in code specifically is very real. We really think our work can benefit from having more women on board and creating a more diverse working environment, so we’re working on increasing the number of female Q’ers – since last year, the percentage of women at Q has risen from just 6% to 13%, and we’re not done. So when Lieke Boon offered to give a talk at our office on gender bias in tech, Katja came to me and asked: “Can’t we make this bigger than just one talk for Q’ers only?” And so we did. Girl Code was born. We contacted Girls in Tech to reach the right audience via their Meetup group and social media channels.

The talks

For Girl Code we arranged for four professional Girl Coders to come give talks and demo some of their work. The goal of the night was to show everyone professional coders aren’t necessarily male and to inspire everyone to get into code in spite of this gender gap. After our own introduction the girls of Girls in Tech talked about their mission with their organisation and why they wanted to be part of Girl Code. After these introductions it was time for the talks the evening was really about. You can find the slides below.

Katja Hollaar​ “WYSIWYG: Augmenting Content of Digital Books in Schooltas”

Katja told us about building enrichment pins in Schooltas. Schooltas is an app to have everything you ever need for school in the palm of your hand. Because who wants to search for a book in a dusty old library anyway? In building an intuitive, user-friendly interface, the team noticed a striking contrast with the extremely complex underlying code.To keep the code comprehensible, maintainable and reusable they used the approach of component based programming.

Kristin Rieping ​"Building Light: The Architecture of Philips Hue"

Ever wanted to use your lights in any way imaginable? Kristin is your girl! With her team she connected Philips hue to the cloud. With this API you can connect your lights in any way you want. Want to annoy us? You can control our lights in our The Hague office via the header of our site. Yes, we’ll notice.

Felienne Hermans “A Board Game Night With Geeks”

A picture of Felienne is what you find when you look up the word ‘nerd’. Instead of just enjoying the rest of a game of Quarto, she immediately pulled out her laptop to get an answer when she wondered if this game could ever end in a tie. Using automated reasoning and SAT solvers, she attacked the game with source code and found out this game can indeed end in a tie. And that was when she could sleep soundly again.

Erika Reinaldo ​"Smashing Pixels with Imanee"

Image manipulation is important in any programming language. So when Erika wanted the most simple thing to deal with images in PHP, she built it herself. It’s called Imanee. There are a lot of tools available online for dealing with images, but “Who cares?”, Erika asked us. Innovation is about creating, and because she has a real passion for creating, she programmed it herself to be the best tool for her needs. With her talk she wanted to inspire everyone to get into code and create.

Find Erika’s slides here.

Lieke Boon “Unconscious Bias”

Lieke closed the night with a talk about the unconscious bias in not only the world of tech, but in almost every aspect of our lives. Don’t think you escape those biases, because every moment in time exposes you to 11 million bits of information and we can only process about 40 bits, so we are all undeniably biased. Test it yourself. She explained the underlying nuance in our daily terminology and how we could counter-program our brains in order to tackle these unconscious biases.

Find Lieke’s slides here.

The night was a real success. A lot of of people came out and we really want to thank everyone who did. The discussions were really interesting and are still going. We couldn’t have hoped for a better evening, so who knows? Girl Code could be getting a sequel, so keep an eye on us if you don’t want to miss out! Also keep an eye on us if you want to see the videos of the talks, because those are coming up. Eventually.

Subiet, een app voor de frequente treinreiziger

Je gaat naar huis, zoals elke dag, maar je bent nog net niet zo’n nerd dat je alle treintijden uit je hoofd weet. Wie hou je voor de gek? Natuurlijk weet je ze uit je hoofd, maar storingen die weet je niet, dus je checkt toch gauw even of jouw trein vertrekt wanneer je denkt. Maar voordat jij je route hebt ingevoerd, is de trein die je wilde halen tóch op tijd vertrokken. De oplossing is hier. Subiet.

Brainstorm

Subiet is ooit begonnen als idee tijdens w00tcamp, samen met Oak & Morrow, uit frustratie van de frequente treinreiziger met de bestaande OV-apps. Het was nu hoog tijd om dat idee om te zetten naar een serieuze brainstormsessie. We wilden een app bouwen die alle (vooral ook onze eigen) frustraties voor de frequente treinreiziger wegneemt. Want bovenstaande situatie hadden we allemaal te vaak meegemaakt. Zo onnodig ook. Waarom, als je elke dag dezelfde routes nodig hebt, moet je deze elke keer opnieuw invoeren? Je wilt gewoon nu weten of jouw trein gaat en zo niet wanneer dan wel. Subiet dus, niet nadat je vijf stappen verder bent. Tijdens de jumpstart is besloten om voor de eerste versie te beginnen met advies voor de treinen. De NS API is namelijk erg compleet en dus een goede start om in korte tijd een leuke en vooral nuttige app te kunnen bouwen. Deze iOS app hebben we gebouwd in Swift.

Subiet

In de app kun je je vaste trajecten invoeren. Zo kun je in een oogopslag in je gepersonaliseerde blokjes zien wanneer je trein precies vertrekt en of je je aansluiting haalt. Dit is dus een app voor de reiziger die zijn traject en de stations kent. Je weet zelf wel welke route het handigst is en of je voor die overstap moet rennen of dat die overstaptijd nog wel iets korter kan. Je weet vaak ook dat er meerdere wegen naar Rome leiden en doordat je ze direct naast elkaar ziet hoef je dus nooit meer te gokken welke vandaag sneller is. Je kunt je trajecten ook combineren tot complete reizen. Doordat je zelf je vaste trajecten toevoegt, direct overzicht hebt op de eerstvolgende trein op al je trajecten, complete treinreizen combineert, je eigen overstaptijden bepaalt, alle volgende vertrektijden kunt bekijken en tijd- en perronswijzigingen ziet heb je altijd subiet de beste treinreis.

En nu?

Is het subiet tijd dat je Subiet downloadt. Waarom? Nu kan dat nog gratis. Oja, wie weet hangen we er nog andere OV-opties in, dus kijk uit naar eventuele updates. In de tussentijd is al je commentaar welkom. En nu ga ik gauw m’n trein halen.