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Hackable ESC Badges Demonstrate the Power of Wireless Networking

Known as “Hello There!” badges, the devices served as a means for engineers to interact with one another, while also teaching them that programming of networked devices needn’t be difficult. “We wanted them to see that it can be fun and easy to program these types of devices,” said Jonathan Heath, solution architect for Synapse Wireless, which designed the badges’ printed circuit boards and provided the hardware modules with the microcontrollers and RF engines. “So we gave them the code and showed them that low-power, mesh-capable eight-bit micros can do some pretty powerful things.”

The badges, manufacturerd by Sunstone Circuits and assembled by Screaming Circuits, were programmed to “talk” to one another and to send messages about the wearers’ technical interests. “They could set their interests –- software, hardware, analog, IoT –- by pressing a DIP switch,” Heath said. “And when they saw someone else with the same interests, it was meant to be a digital icebreaker.”