We have a growing need at Parallax for a couple of interesting tools for the Hackable Electronic Badge. I'm not all that sure of the best way to approach this project at the moment, so I'm looking for suggestions since there are many ways to go about both projects. In short, these badges are customizable per event and identity. The badges are going to places where there are anywhere between 300 and 1000 people like art gallery openings, tech conferences and so on. They usually display somebody's name and also store e-mail, Twitter name, and so on. Through the event, the badges are used as a "contact manager" where they store each "introduction" in EEPROM.
Seairth and I already had a trial run at the Open Hardware Summit so he might have something to contribute here. Both of us can use Parallax programming tools of course, but this isn't the case for most of the "installations" where the badges will be sold. At the moment, you can look at the Propeller Spin code https://www.parallax.com/downloads/hackable-electronic-badge-ohs-spin-code
to see how we (a) load the person's name and contact info and (b) use a terminal program to download their encountered contacts. You can also watch a short video I made https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fXuVUFoAXI
The big gotcha here is that our badge tools need to be useful by anybody (without starting up Propeller IDE / Propeller Tool / Simple IDE and so on). These people aren't programmers - they might be event organizers, administrative staff, or volunteers.
So I ask a couple of questions:
1. What's the best way to easily load personal contact information into a badge (without a computer)?
The badge has infrared receiver, audio port, and buttons. The badge could be programmed at Parallax for event-specific behavior (logos, graphics, etc) so this tool would only need to load somebody's name and e-mail address. Firmware could have a listening capability for external input. It has a display, so it could show what's being typed if a keyboard were used. What about user-entered names with the touchpads to choose/select each letter? Ideas? Best to make application (2) below serve this same purpose for us? If so, fine!
2. Stand-alone, multi-platform, open-source computer program to download stored contacts?
At the event, people can exchange contact information by pressing the Open Hardware Button. LEDs confirm transmit and receive of the data over infrared (this works amazingly well thanks to JonnyMac's drivers). After the event the badge holder goes home and wants to download all of their new friends. At present, the firmware looks for any key press in a terminal program to start the 115,200 baud data dump back to the computer. Customers need to be able to do this without a terminal program. I believe we need a stand-alone, open, multi-platform program that does this for us (no Propeller programing tools required). It'd allow the contacts to be downloaded and saved as a simple text file on the computer. It would need to install FTDI drivers if not already present. Anybody can download and run the program. It just works.
Seeking any and all input on this issue. Please share your ideas here! My objective here is to determine the best model for this project. I'd like to determine the right development environment (web based? Python, so on) and then find a developer to do the project for us. Or, I might want to do this as a contest with a $2,500 bounty. For now, though, we need to get some discussion going and find the best design approach.
And yes, we will quickly need to write a specification for what we are asking for. That's probably our next task.