News & Culture
Kieran's Ride100 and the tech that just kept going and going and going
Our very own Kieran Cook decided to brave Prudential’s Ride100 2017. And so kicked off months of hard training and preparation. The decision to ride came hand in hand with the decision to ride in support of Children with Cancer UK. In a unique effort to raise funds for the organization before the big race, Kieran took a day off work and set up a stationary bike in our creative area, where he cycled as far and as long as donations would take him. Our ever-supportive Creative Technology team saw this as a challenge: how could all of Kieran’s colleagues (and friends and family) stay up to date with his progress in both miles and money? And more importantly how could we keep him motivated while still getting our work done?
So, for every pound donated on the day, Kieran would have to cycle another minute. The idea was as simple - and as gruelling - as that.
To support such a noble act of kindness, we wanted to amplify the event using a sprinkling of innovative technology. The same kind of technologies that we use to enhance and extend many of the award-winning experiential events we create for our clients. In addition to infusing experiences with new forms of exciting interaction, we can also extend location-based live events to a much wider online audience through a range of digital channels.
Always ready to jump at a chance to tinker, hack, and prototype fun stuff. Alex Coulcher, our lead Creative Technologist, along with Cynthia Onwordi, Front End Developer, decided to build some technology that could help us on the day to keep track of donations, measure progress, and enable others to get involved - hopefully driving more donations.
At the heart of our set up was the technology integration with the bike itself. The bike was mounted to a turbo trainer static resistance platform. We removed the magnetic switch to the odometer and connected it directly to a custom Arduino circuit. All the Arduino bike data was sent to a NodeJS Websocket server built on Socket.IO, running on a tiny micro PC where all progress was recorded and the data was crunched.
Donations could be made on-site or online. For on-site donations, we had a tablet device running a web UI that allowed spectators to pledge any given amount. For every £1 donated, the server was instructed to increase the target cycle time by an additional minute, automatically recalculating the challenge timer and percentage complete. With each donation, a loud “Kerching!” sound was played, to help keep Kieran motivated.
We also had an administration interface that allowed us to pause the clock so that Kieran was able to stop every now and then for a quick break (we’re not completely heartless, after all).
All of the data and metrics being recorded by the bike and the incoming donations were displayed on a digital dashboard, including the total amount donated, distance cycled, and the amount of time remaining.
The dashboard UI was built using a Bootstrap framework and a Socket.IO Client in order to send and receive real time live data. The UI comprised of a combination of data nodes and graphs to relay all the information.
The dashboard interface was displayed on a large screen in the office alongside Kieran so that colleagues could see how much further he still had left to go. The dashboard was also accessible over the web, opening up the event to a much greater potential audience.
We streamed a live webcam feed of the action alongside the metrics dashboard. This enabled everyone in the office, and the outside world, to keep an eye on Kieran to make sure he wasn’t slacking.
Through the web dashboard, there were a number of interactions that remote observers could trigger. This included a variety of sound effects that could be played on-demand to help cheer on Kieran, or (if you were so inclined) to give him a bit of a shock if he appeared to be waning. His reactions could be seen live on the webcam feed - some of which in the later hours were a little NSFW, as you can imagine.
At the end of the day the tech did a tremendous job of extending the reach of this fun activity. But the real credit must go to the human at the centre of the technology, Kieran, whose pedal-powered charity drive managed to raise over £650 on the day!
We are all wishing you the very best of luck for Sunday, Kieran!
You can support Kieran here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/KieranCook