You were first introduced to the BlueFletch IoT Lab back in July with This Internet of Things is Kind of a Big Deal. This post is the beginning of a series of blog posts keeping you all up to date on the happenings in the Lab. We’ll cover projects both personal and professional; the misses, the wins and everything in between.

When we first opened the doors of the Lab, our projects were small scale and “fun sized” as we tried out all the new equipment. The 3D printer was a hit – Ben built a whistle, Andres made a case for his raspberry pi…

raspberry pi, 3D printer
raspberry pi, 3D printer

… and we tested out the Oculus Rift… a lot…

oculus rift, BlueFletch IoT Lab

And then along came a hackathon. At BlueFletch, we can’t resist a good hackathon.


The TAG IoT Symposium  was a  showcase for IoT current and potential uses. It brought together 500+ attendees for a one day symposium/brainstorm session on everything from the basics to “the innovative ideas that are changing how you live, work, and play.” The goal of the symposium was to spark ideas and facilitate conversations. As part of the symposium, TAG hosted a Hackathon focused on three themes: Smart Cities, Industry and Education and BlueFletch was inspired to enter.

Team BlueFox entered with a project around taser or gun discharge events accountability and reporting for local law enforcement agencies. Our team was inspired by a recent NPR article on police departments in Connecticut enacting required reporting around taser events. That story, combined with the reports of municipalities struggling with the high costs for body cameras really hit home. Our solution had an estimated cost of only $30-$50/unit so we knew we were on to something. That’s major savings, with the added advantage of creating an automated system to track and enforce reporting, something that is currently missing in Connecticut.

How it Works

We decided to leverage the Sigfox network in order to send information over a specific frequency. Our prototype was programmed on a Raspberry PI using Python. We used GPS, the Sigfox network and an accelerometer adapted to the “trigger” (a toggle button) of the gun/taser.  A pressure sensor would detect trigger events and send those via the sigfox network to our backend (a nodejs server and elasticsearch in this instance) to then be presented in a web based dashboard we created. The Dashboard displays specific location, device ID, and a timestamp for when the device was triggered, allowing dispatchers to send backup units to the specific location with details on the shooting. Recording trigger events will help enforce reporting of these events.  In addition, our system will send a daily message to Sigfox to track the gun/taser location which would decrease the amount of gun losses for armed forces.

In true hackathon fashion, our project was not without hiccups. On our first go round with the 3D printer we forgot to test the dimensions and this was the result –

BlueFletch IoT Lab, 3D printer

For our presentation we used a nerf gun instead. We were limited on time, of course, so we did not get to complete everything  we envisioned… In future iterations we would include the ability for cameras to begin recording at the moment the officer pulls the taser or gun out of the holster and the ability to detect extra information like position of the weapon at trigger time (tilt up or down) to provide information about the officer.

We did not win 1st place at the Hackathon, but we had a lot of fun. Imagining the many many uses for the Internet of Things in our cities was a cool brainstorming exercise and opened our eyes to new uses for the lab. As a mobile technology company we do not have a lot of contact with the law enforcement community, but thinking of ways to contribute to smart cities and improve quality of life was fascinating.

Next Up

Lots of projects are underway, including some cool ones using facial recognition technology, door sensors and smoke detectors. Stay tuned.

Lauren Lynn

Lauren Lynn

Operations and Marketing Manager - Lauren is responsible for managing event scheduling, marketing, and anything related to keeping the lights on. Lauren has a background managing Art Galleries in New York and Charleston and holds a BA in Art History from Wofford College.