This past Saturday, April 16, we sponsored the HackRU hackathon at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. We hacked all night alongside the 1000 students who attended the event inside the Rutgers Athletic Stadium.



We brought tons of hardware to play with — Multitech LoRa gateways and motes connected to The Things Network, tons of sensors, and Espruinos. We brought some easy to deploy libraries for quick connections to services like InitialState and The event was a great opportunity to get our solderin’ on, experiment with up and coming tech, and demo Scriptr to the hordes.



The next morning, we were happy to present the prize for our favorite project to Arpit Shah, Wael Ayadi, and Waseem Khan for their app controlling Nest with speech. The front-end app records an audio file of the user’s command and parses it using HTML5 Web APIs. It sends that text to which orchestrates calls to’s API to translate the speech into actions, then translates those actions into calls to Nest’s API. also generates the feedback to the front-end so it can respond to the user with its own voice via IBM Watson.

All in all, this is a great example of an idea for functionality that can easily be carried into control of other applications and devices, and it is all done with no server infrastructure. The team was able to deploy a publicly accessible URL to an app that anyone at the event could try on their own phone. This was all delivered via services like which can scale to millions of users. The source code is here and a video of the result is below!

Now that IoT products are becoming mainstream, it was interesting to observe how Arduinos and dev kits hold far less of an appeal to the majority of attendees at the event. Students were far more interested in building solutions like the one above, built on top of brands and platforms that they’ve seen in tech pubs. It’s also worth mentioning that the “Internet of Things” and the “Smart City” are essentially just meaningless monikers to this crowd. “IoT” has gone the way of “M2M”, a trope! Things on the Internet are expected now — what you can DO with them is all that matters.

For those with more of a hardware bent, I was really excited about showing the Espruino, a dev platform which runs a javascript environment with an IDE that is a Chrome app! People were loving this thing and the story of Javascript on the hardware -> Javascript in Scriptr -> Javascript on your front-end was a great one. I’ll be playing a lot more with this for sure.