For a few days at the end of each year, we halt our everyday engineering and instead focus on exploring ideas and experiments at the edges of data-over-sound. Even if they're not directly related to Chirp applications, they're a great way for us each to expand our technical horizons or test out ideas of a more speculative nature.

Here are some of the outcomes of this year's Chirp Christmas Hackathon.

Chirping Christmas Card

One of Chirp's strengths as a technology is the massive range of hardware it supports - even the tiniest and lowest-cost. As a festive closer to the year, James hacked a musical greeting card to send data to a companion iOS app.

It's a light-hearted example of sound's ability to bridge the low-cost, low-power hardware with the latest mobile handsets.

Spectrogram preview for macOS QuickLook

Dan spent his hack building something that we often need within Chirp developer life: a plugin to preview audio spectrograms immediately within Finder, via the spacebar QuickLook preview.

It is an effective way to understand the frequency-domain content of a file, which is particularly critical when trying to examine the inaudible near-ultrasonic range.

Secure communications with embedded devices using AES encryption

Security in data-over-sound is a key issue, to protect against eavesdroppers overhearing transactions and capturing valuable data. Our embedded lead, Damien, devoted his hackathon to building out a secure transaction layer for the Chirp Arm SDK, enabling IoT devices to benefit from encrypted two-way transactions with AES encryption.

Sonic Lock using Chirp with Arduino

Joe spent the first half of the hackathon expanding our platform support to the Arduino community with the ESP32 dev board. The ESP32 has tons of features packed in, is available to buy for next to nothing, and can be easily programmed with the Arduino IDE.

This makes it the perfect solution for hackers and rapid prototypers. The hack involved triggering a solenoid lock to open once a valid TOTP code is received using Chirp.

Cross platform mobile development with Chirp and Flutter

Flutter is the latest cross platform mobile development framework on the scene released by Google. It has several benefits over other alternatives on offer, most notably that it doesn't use the JavaScript engine, and instead uses the Dart programming language.

Dart compiles down to binary code meaning it can really make use of the native performance of iOS and Android devices. The second half of Joe's hack was to create a Flutter plugin for Chirp to be published and readily available to use.

Connect a laptop to a Wi-Fi network with no user interaction

Dinu spent the hackathon creating a cross-platform desktop application to make it a single-tap process to connect to a nearby Wi-Fi network. The interaction flow couldn't be simpler:

  • Meeting room hub chirps Wi-Fi credentials and hub ID in ultrasonic
  • Laptop app hears chirp, decodes credentials and ID
  • Laptop connects to Wi-Fi, pairs with screen, and begins presentation screencast.

Even in its prototype form, it's far smoother than any other meeting room onboarding process that we've experienced. We'll be creating a video in early 2019 to showcase this new framework.

Merry Christmas from the team at Chirp!

We are looking forward to the holidays and an exciting start to 2019. Stay tuned for updates.