SAPO Codebits 2011 was great, as always, but I found my project presentation a “little bit” compromised by some evil events
First of all I will talk about the project itself and then I’ll talk about the disastrous presentation.
Probably you don’t know what “Meo” is unless you’re at Portugal.
Meo is a triple play service provided by Portugal Telecom (the main telco in Portugal). It gives you IPTV, broadband ADSL from 6 to 200Mbps and Voice Service.
To watch IPTV the hardware required is a Router Thomson and a Scientific Atlanta’s KMM3000 IPTV Set or similar model!
These boxes contain a WinCE as base OS with Microsoft MediaRoom. Microsoft MediaRoom is a extremelly closed software with a lot of license policies around it. Only the service providers and special licenced developers have access to the MediaRoom SDK so basically this is a Black Box.
It is possible to send commands that are remote like keys to the box with telnet and send post via an http a request to open applications.
Now that you are more aware of what is the Meo Service I can go on and explain what was my concept:
One day before the contest on the codebits webpage there was a post mentioning that there would be a team helping to develop for this boxes and giving full support, also I saw that a microsoft team would be there too to help on Kinect based projects.
So I was interested in interfacing the kinect gestures with the meo box using a PC in the middle!
Since day one Gonçalo Basto (one of my team members) was doing some widgets for the box in order to explore the kinect use in the box with interactive widgets. We talked several times with PT Inovação, Microsoft, sapo.labs teams and our ideias should be partially changed and the presentation on the main stage seemed a “little bit” compromised. They said that it wouldn’t be impossible but would require some work from the organization to do it. “Keep in touch we will try to handle that, also try to talk with the organization”.
We put a lot of efford on that part reducing the development time and the solutions were getting delayed time after time.
We got the interface recognizing the gestures using hotspots on the computer screen that would send nice and clean commands to the box and time to end the project was near at the end when I finally went to test it on a test environment with all the required hardware and network configurations.
It was a success. But we were only 4 hours away from the presentation and nothing was done on stage.
We went there to test the main stage environment 1 hour before and they sent someone to put a network cable on the router and do the magic but it wasn’t working at all
I talked with Celso about our issues and he said… “that’s too late for such things” and I replied that we passed 3 days trying to get someone to help us. Celso grabbed his cellphone and said “I’ll see what I can do for you although I can’t promise you nothing it’s less than a 1 hour for the presentations”…
I was desperate….the team wasn’t motivated, I was thinking about giving up, and someone from the organization told me, “we will make that happen”
Miguel Vicente from Microsoft, which I most send kudos to him, was always giving us good advices and telling to not give up, PT Inovação Team was really interested in make that happen too. And suddenly magic things started to happen.
The organization moved our project to the last one on the list so we could win some time, PT Inovação sent a guy to do the set up, and we where literally laid down in front of the stage configuring all the necessary component to make the presentation… even if it was untested.
We finished all the set 5 minutes before our turn on stage and our presentation guys was insecure has I have never saw him. We didn’t believe that it would work on stage and IT DID WORK, but our orator was under a lot of pressure believing that it would never work and he was speechless…. all the presentation we trained, all the talk about making Interactive TV a new concept, the speech recognition features, the new market that could be possible to gain with such features… all was left behind and all we heard about it was: “As you can see I can go to the menus, and do some workout as I do it!”
The presentation was a failures dispite the demo worked after all.
I give my sincere thanks to all the Codebits organization to make the impossible happen, to PT Inovação for giving us a big help and for having one of the top techs on MediaRoom in Portugal laid on the ground in front of 800 persons just to help to configure the DNS hosts, to Miguel Vicente for all the motivation he gave us, and to my team that was under a great pressure due to all our missfortune events.
Soon I will publish more about this project including videos of it working.
It was a great codebits and a great challenge.