Reboot 11 and presenting RoomWare/AnyWhere

Posted on June 28, 2009


Sunday, June 21 we received the following mail from Thomas Madsen-Mygdal:

hi peter & alexander,
sorry for this late response.
would love to have the both of you present your proposal at reboot – and wire/augment up the venue if possible.
can we make it happen?

Luckily we already had a lot of work done regarding the presentation. So Monday 22 I went to Alexander Zeh’s house and we started working on the presentation. Watch it here as finished for Reboot 11. It needs some touches-up but is not bad.

My first response on a Reboot RoomWare installation was: “No. Let’s do it next year,” but we decided to give it a try anyway. And we sent an e-mail stating that it might be possible but that we would need some help.

Thomas wrote:

claus dahl, has computers, bluetooth, arduino and is local and have offered to help. tomas krag is another local helpful ressource.
let me know what you need.
i’ll schedule the talk.

After an intense e-mail conversation and several postings on Twitter #reboot11 on Tuesday things started to get moving.

When making a plan ant creating an inventory of what was available Claus wrote:

Hi Peter,
I have various kinds of stuff – touchatag reader and can probably borrow an extra, a small supply (maybe 50) unused tags.  – got an old Linux-machine we can set up somewhere as well – and time to help out Wednesday if that makes sense in doing a preconference setup.
Alternatively as a quick way out we could do some Bluetooth scans in lieu of enough RFID gear. I have 3-4 BT sensors we can use.

Later that day, via Thomas, Mathias Holzman joined as he was planning to do something with touchatag on Reboot and had a contact with the people from Touchatag. Mathias wrote to Edward Haeger:

Dear Edward,
thanks for calling me back and the support!
Today I got in touch with Peter and Claus from the roomware project ( and they have a great initiative
planned at reboot: which is worth supporting.
As I understood they need about:
– 500-600 RFID Cards
– 30 readers
– maybe a bot support from one of your API people
– etc. …
It would be best to get in touch with:
Peter with regards to the concept
and with
Claus with regard to the technical details
I am looking forward to see this great project coming to life!!

To which Ted Haeger from Touchatag responded:


I just finally escaped from a hellish morning full of meetings.

I just read the RoomWare concept page. I like it, but it will be very difficult (perhaps impossible) for me to get you a bulk of tags in time for the conference tomorrow.

Tuesday and Wednesday, Claus Dahl worked hard to get all the tech stuff going and have the laptops, TouchaTag tags and basic software hookups with RoomWare and TouchaTag working so that at my arrival thursday morning we could plug all stuff in and have it working around 14:00 that day.

This was the plan I made before leaving for Copenhagen:

Tomorrow from 10:00 to 14:00 get everything up and running and tested
and working.
12:00 insert Reboot events/talks.

9:30 try meet up with Claus, talk status.
10:00 – 12:00 install server, test tikitag , workstations, correct
errors / debug, finish Admin module

13:00 – 14:00: LOCATION: LOBBY
1)  get speakers to sign in first so we can connect events to people.
2) Distribute RFID cards

We might find people willing to serve as mobile Tikitag stations.
Laptop + Tikitag + software should do trick?


Wednesday I left for Copenhagen getting a lift by Iskander Smit from and travelling along with Alper Cugun. With a DC to AC converter bought that same Wednesday and using the cigarette lighter socket in the car I had an unlimited resource of power to do programming.It was improvisation galore.

During the ride I created the database and the front-end User- and Admin application to run a RoomWare application based on three elements:

  1. The schedule of talks and events at Reboot
  2. The rooms and locations those events took place
  3. The personal preferences each user could set based on speaker or talk.

The basic setup was to install several workstations around the venue connected to the RoomWare AnyWhere Reboot application. By swiping your touchatag — a sticker with a RFID-chip wit a specific ID glued to it — past the reader the application would call the Reboot11 RoomWare app and present you your personal profile. The TouchaTag app would send two ID’s to the server:

  1. The ID of the TouchaTag reader.
  2. The ID of the TouchaTag RFID-tag.

If not account was created yet to the TouchaTag ID, you could enter your name, your Twitter, Flickr and Reboot-username and select the events you liked and did not like.

When swiping the TouchaTag, the local workstation would send tag-ID and reader ID to the server and present your personal profile and preferences and your favorite selected talks in that room and at the event as a whole.

At the end of the 9 hour ride to Copenhagen I finished the database interface using my Flash RAD framework, only to install it on my server.


I arrived just in time to step up on the stage at the opening of Reboot 11 and join Claus to announce that we would launch the Roomware 11 around 14:00 hours that day and ask the speakers to join as at the lobby at the entrance to create their accounts and link them to the events taking place. In the pause I was approached by Marieke Hermans from NPOX. Somewhere later this year the Dutch broadcasting companies would meet in a conference for over 1000 people. They were thinking of having something like RoomWare up and running to facilitate the visitors in connecting business cards and offer some sot orf added value.

During that morning, I talked briefly to more people, met up with people I knew, finished the web API to intercept the TouchaTag reader ID and TouchaTag ID and  tried to install the software on my server: the last to no avail.

Internet connections via wireless failed time after time. Remote Desktop from my VMware installation could not connect to the internet when I DID have a connection. My own server was IP-shielded regarding Remote Desktop and I had forgotten to ask my provider to release that for two days. Trying to call their number (usually within 5 minutes they resolve that) failed. Going to “Plan B” and using a staging machine form another party in Italy and a Windows XP machine Claus Dahl brought, I had decipher the Danish XP menu’s on the local machine and the Italian interface on Internet Information Server, the file browser and folder properties, and the Italian error messages I recieved regarding the .NET installation I made, using Google translate to figure out what the server tried to tell me, during the talk of David Weinberger in the early afternoon, I decided to abort what had become a mission impossible and join the conference and have fun.

No RoomWare application. No RoomWare installation.


Friday at 12:40 I held my talk. Taking a cab from my hotel, groggy and with about 20 slides still to add, I spend the morning with little adjustments, smoking sigarettes with people I knew and met and attending talks in the main hall while writing and making screenshots of the Natal commercial, AR demo’s on YouTube and other additional material I had planned to put in as samples of “The future is happening now” when preparing monday.

Picture 144

I had 40 minutes. When I entered the room, about 20 to 30 people where spread across the room listening to Johan Jorgensen and my first thought was: “Fuck me. I hope this is not all I will get when doing the RoomWare talk”. But the room started to fill up at 12:30 and when I started, most stools where occupied.

I had adapted my RoomWare talk to reflect the past days, had added slides reflecting the RoomWare Workshops and a brief definition of RoomWare (Open Source. A platform. An Umbrella concept. “A movement”) photo’s of the 3 guys who started the initiative and incorporated the pitch we did for Nokia in April 2009.

40 minutes was too short to show all. I got to show the 157 slides of the main story of 271 in total in an avarage of 3 to 30 seconds per slide, showing the basic concepts and visuals regarding RoomWare using the “parallel visual story telling” method introduced by [find out who] where – while you talk – slides are shown with clear images and clear statements reflecting and underlining the oral story. Each slide is shown for about 3 seconds before moving to another, unless the slide shows something to explain in depth.

When my talk was finished and during that day, several people approached me of whom are: Martin Enleff of Ping Pong regarding Eneco installations to measure home energy use based on an example showing energy use in an iPhone application, Martin Recke of the Next conference: if I could do a RoomWare presentation on the Next festival in 2010 and Frank Rooswog from Ag4 (a company that combines architecture and multi-media presentations) as they are experimenting with interactions between their installations and the environment and was asked by Ville Vesterinen from Arctic Startup if I could contribute something to Arctic Startup. (I forget what, but the answer was and is “yes”.)

Left in the room when most people where gone for lunch were Ali Jelveh and his girlfriend. Ali is part of protonet (no site up yet) who offer a Plug & Play Linux server that uses Peer to Peer mash-networking principles to hook up with the surroundings and offer out of the box local social networking tools. We discussed RoomWare and protonet and found that we had similar sentiments regarding opening RoomWare to personal home use. During lunch Elmine Wijnia approached me regarding presenting alternate streams during conferences and talks as Twitter is the current but not best solution.

Claus Dahl mailed later that day to Ted Haeger of Touchatag:

Everything was perfect – except the network at the venue – so we we’re stumped in widely deploying the system. Peter Kaptein – who wrote the information system we used the tags for – did a nice talk w a demo; and got some interesting feedback with interested users.
I think this is something people want and understand – it just takes some care when networking etc…

A lot of other things, duscussions and meetings took place those days, of which the thoughts about (human) rights, starting revolutions and changing things from without, game theory and change and privacy and human rights will be worked out in future blogs.

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