Android developer, Chris Jenkins, and QA engineer, Valentin Kalchev, took part in a Random Hacks of Kindness event being held at the Met Office in Exeter last weekend. Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) is a joint initiative between Microsoft, Google, NASA, World Bank and Yahoo. The objective is to create a self-sustaining global community of innovators building practical open technology for a better world, and to ensure their work creates impact in society.

The Exeter event was part of a global hackathon where hundreds of innovators grouped together to work on sustainability projects to help make the world a better place. Mubaloo’s team, Team Sleepy, created an energy saving app for Windows & Android devices that can communicate with desktop PCs and Macs to put them on standby or shut them down. The idea was originally suggested by RHoK innovator, Andreas Beer, and had two parts:

  • Automatic shutdown stationary devices when a mobile device leaves the perimeter of the WiFi Access Point.
  • Automatic recovery from shutdown when the mobile device joins the WiFi Access Point.

Leaving desktop computers or laptops on at home or in the office can cost a lot in energy bills. The energy saving app puts a stop to this by sending devices into standby mode (or shutting them down) after they are left dormant for a certain amount of time. The app works by communicating with your desktop computer through your wireless router from the mobile device. For example, if you were to pop into town for the day with your mobile phone it would eventually lose range from your WiFi router. When this happens, your desktop or laptop will stop ‘seeing’ your mobile device and will be prompted to go into standby or shutdown. The app enables a 60 second response time, so if your home computer has multiple users, it will only turn to standby or shutdown if it hasn’t been used for the programmed amount of time.

The current app was designed on the Android Nexus 7 working with PC/OS X computers but will have the ability to work on iOS and Windows devices. The idea could also stretch to other electronic devices such as heaters, AC and TVs, which could be switched off remotely from a common piece of hardware, like a Raspberry Pi or Arduino.

The Mubaloo team had an honourable mention from the judges for their energy saving app. Other projects mentioned by the judges at the RHoK event included an iOS mobile news app for WaterAid, developed to spread awareness and show those who have donated to the charity how their money is helping. View the mobile web prototype here. Most sustainable project went to Team Rwanda who created a new, easy-to-use weather website for the Rwanda Meteorological Agency. The weather has a huge impact on people’s lives in Rwanda where storms and floods can have a disastrous impact on lives and livelihoods. Previous attempts at creating a website to keep people informed of the weather in Rwanda have run into problems and the new challenge is to get an easy-to-use weather website up and running, which can be updated and maintained by Rwandan developers and meteorologists with some support from the Met Office.

To find out about the latest RHoK events, visit the Random Hacks of Kindness website.

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