Mapping apps are great at getting first responders to a building. But not into it. And not at winning.
For the second year in a row, I joined the Slalom Atlanta custom development team at the 2014 AT&T Developer Summit Hackaton. And for the second year in a row, we came in second place—always the bridesmaid...ahem, bridesgroom—our finalist app, RescueRoute, beating out nearly 120 teams after only 24-hours of design and development.
But as the sole UX and design professional on the team—backed up by five developers; a freelancer, Ellie Decker, recruited on-site; and the Slalom Atlanta sales team making beer runs—our success this year isn't just about our winning app. It's about a different approach to the hackathon. Whereas last year we focused on just one killer app, this year we took a shotgun approach: designing, developing, and presenting five different apps. In just 24 hours. And each of those with a unique premise, look, and user experience.
RescueRoute, our winning app, came out of a simple challenge from our lead Android developer: How can we use these technologies in an unintended, novel way.
When a RescueRoute alarm is triggered—whether by your phone, by your heart-monitoring shirt, or even by your smart-sock detecting a fall—location-aware sensors in the building pinpoint your location and color-changing routing lights lead first responders straight to the emergency with no stopping for directions. And with no need for a heads up display. The app can even handle multiple routes at one time—illuminating an egress path on one side of a hallway and an ingress route on the other. Speedy passage whether you’re running from a fire … or into it. And when the emergency is dealt with, the red, directional emergency lights turn green and then back to white, seamlessly integrating into the building’s normal lighting environment.
JD Jordan, experience design lead
Walt Austin, development lead
Aaron Berk, developer
Ellie Decker, designer
Jeremy Duvall, developer
Jeremy Lizza, developer
Basil Udoudoh, developer
Basil Udoudoh, developer
From a technology perspective, aside from a smartphone we used a Qualcomm Gimbal to pinpoint a location within a structure (though you could use a Nest or a Birdi), Sensoria smart clothing as a passive trigger in a health emergency, Phillips Hue lighting to illuminate the routes, and AT&T’s M2X to manage the wide variety of paths we might need to light up.
But, ultimately, it’s about the light fixtures all around us already. Lights, that with just a little help, could buy each of us those precious few seconds that make so much difference.