17 Fév 2015
Posté dans : Non classé

Baby API: The true story about our connected table soccer

At Paris Web 2013, I discovered what is an Arduino and what we can do with it. In one word, it allows to plug the internet world to the reality. For example turn on a light when a tweet is published with a specific hashtag. Until this moment, I have been thinking that one day, I’d find the time to learn how it works and to find a funny idea to work on.

May 2014, I bought my first Arduino starter kit and learnt how to build a simple electronic circuit and how to interact with a computer. After a couple of funny weekends spent in trunks without seeing anybody, I was able to plug my works to a Raspberry PI (a very little computer) in order to put my « Fart detector » inside the toilets of the company I worked. It didn’t work.

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We had a table football at the agency and were playing more that two hours a day. I was thinking that in electronic, there are motion sensors and that we could create a digital table football who automatically increments the score when a ball is detected by the sensor. After days and days trying to open this f****** table, we broke the key inside the hole and I never managed to put my motion sensor in the table.

I had to think about a new approach and I got the idea to use buttons instead of sensor. What if each player had a button and could increment himself the score? We could have more precise statistics on which player put the most goals and on who is the best on attack or on defense.

Since this moment, one of my coworker Nicolas, helped my by creating a WordPress API to stock all the data. In two weeks, we had a first prototype in a rice box. This prototype had a little LCD screen and 4 buttons for the 4 players. We did a test and believe it or not, It worked well!

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After this unforgettable moment, all BeAPI coworkers where fond of the project and helped us with the way they could. Two of them worked on a design for the website, one on the design of a new box, two of them on a front-end development and two people were on the WordPress plugin. We had a « live » feature, allowing us to see the score evolution on a big screen each time somebody scored. With the « short press » and « long press » feature on the buttons, we had to possibility to do special action like « cancel » or « -1 » when the ball hit the goal and goes back on the playground. We also found a new wood box much better than the rice one and we had the « Wifi »  feature so we had only one wire.

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September 2015, we were all very excited by this project and were thinking about a way of commercialisation. We went with Nicolas to a half-day 3D printing training and I did a one week Solidworks training to learn how to model a pretty box in 3D. In the same time we were working hard on « how to build wireless buttons who don’t need to be charged every day or every weeks » but we didn’t find the perfect solution so at this time we still have wires on buttons.

October 2015, we tried to print our first 3D prototype but I did too many beginner conception mistakes so it didn’t fit with the size and the holes.

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We also organized a table soccer tournament inside BeAPI local with 3 others agencies. We used our box for all the tournament and everybody were really excited by the project. By the way we had to apologies to all neighbors because of the noise…

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November 2015, I left Paris to live in Sydney and we had to stop the project but we are still proud of what we’ve done and it may start again if the opportunity appears again. My ex-coworkers are still using the box and it makes me very happy!

For all this amazing project, I’d like to thank Nicolas, the first guy who helped me, Amaury our boss who were ok to allow us some time and some money to try new components, another Nicolas and another Benjamin for the front-end development, Sarah and Alexandre for the design of the web application and Clément for his help with NodeJS and Raspberry Pi administration.

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