My story starts with a request from one of my amazing mentor’s that I get for just being a human at IBM – Her name is Rhonda Childress and she is who I want to be when I grow up.
“Hey Beth can you help me build a skirt that lights up…” says Rhonda
“Sure, I think I know a guy, …” says Beth thinking there must be more to this
Turns out I was right on both accounts, of course I knew a guy (Tim Forshee) and of course there was more to that request. Three (ish) weeks later we hold a live event for over 300 high school kids from the NY area as well as globally streamed to all students – we had over 10k students watching our event.
The students in the audience were from Excelsior and P-Tech – part of our President’s famous P-Tech high schools – that engender our kids with wholesome thoughts of technology and science. So of course we set out to teach them how to hack a web cam at an IBM IOT Security event.
As the students filled the room (260 in chairs, 30 in an overflow section) the IBM team starts to get excited. Our event was kicked off by one of our co-hosts Dave McQueeney who talks about his passion for CF-18 (Canadian version) Hornet (McDonnell-Douglas).
Image credit David Kumhyr
I am sitting in the front row so that I can easily get up and talk to the kids about how the Twitter wall lights up the skirt, as well as to make lovely patterns appear on the skirt while Rhonda is talking. I have to be in bluetooth range to approve the tweets that go to the skirt. Rhonda opens with her own personal story, which makes me grin ear to ear (full replays of all sections located at the bottom of the article). She then calls me onstage – below is a picture of me talking to the audience about how to the twitter wall works and warning our young friends that everything in social media is more permanent than they are.
Image credit Ellen Gullo
The twitter wall is that large screen with blue background to the left of me and it programmed was using a Python / JSON script to target specific hashtags and then display the tweets on the wall live. My amazing friend Kaitlyn McGoldrick decided she wanted to learn how to build a website and this was her first – turned out incredible just like everything else she does. The twitter wall had a couple of machine and human powered algorithms built in to search and destroy any of the “RUDE” or typical 4-letter words and such – just to make sure we did not broadcast anything that we did not want to.
In addition to the twitter wall we also wanted to showcase the interaction between what people do online (on the Internet) and on a thing (the skirt). The IOT theme is such an exciting arena right now since there are so very many applications.
Whenever someone would tweet a certain # with a region (which we can pull from the metadata) then a portion of the skirt would light up. We had a few IBMers helping out around the world on this part. All of the programming and Skirt functionality was the mad genius of Tim Forshee who spent many hours toiling with a teensy board and LED lights to make this happen. Rhonda was the seamstress – yes, she can even sew.
After our introduction we had a session – I think everyone would consider as the BEST presentation – on how to hack a web cam from our junior geniuses (Collin and Evan). These two engineers (12 and 10 years old respectively) were told by their parents (Beth Dunphy and Mike Spisak – IBMers) to go on the internet and figure out how to hack a web cam and then make a video of it…they blew us all away with their very scientific “hacking” results. Of course, the point was to get folks to understand that they need to SECURE their own internet to avoid such attacks.
Following the dynamic duo was an excellent set of sessions to showcase security and the Internet of things. The most anticipated session – via the Twitter feeds – was the ZOMBIE DRONE and here is where things got interesting…
During Mike Spisak’s amazing session for showcasing how one can “hack” a drone and turn it into a ZOMBIE we had the network crash at the IBM Research Facility and the live stream go down….OH the reaction from our twitter and livestream followers. Now some would say that this is actually an excellent achievement for a minor little IBM Academy Think session but for our co-Hosts and presenters it was time for some fancy footwork. Being the consummate professional that she is, Rhonda took the stage for some wonderful questions. Helping her was co-Host Dave McQueeney – kinda a big time IBMer legend himself – and in no time we were back to ZOMBIES and drones. This minor blip only showcased the enormous talents of our IBM team to THINK and act on their feet.
Rounding out the presentations was an appearance from “Benny” the robot from IBM research, David with his smart “medication” system and finally Bryan Childs who showcased the Disney Infinity Game Design Cubes as well as his fabulous singing! During our entire 2.5 hour extravaganza we also had Greg Boss – or at least his head on display rolling around our audience. The kids later got to interview Greg during pizza time!
Lastly I have to give a huge shout out to my own social media crew who made this all happen in the infosphere – (In person Sam Lamorte, Kaitlin McGoldrick, Erin Schnabel, and Sean Fuoco offsite Arunachalam Rajendran – India, Katrina Read – Australia, Michael Bone – Canada and of course the great Tim Forshee). As you can tell we all are incredibly serious and hard working individuals.
All of the videos are here and the official Academy write up is here for your purview and I leave you with a wall of pictures to show our dynamite team and for those of you who want to know how to build your own technologically advanced and socially enabled clothing – come work for IBM – we get to do all kinds of amazing things !
Bottom right picture from left to right and front to back: Ellen Gullo, Sean Fuoco, Beth Dunphy, Dave McQueeney, Collin Dunphy, Bryan Childs, David Kumhyr, Rhonda Childress, Mike Spisak, Greg Boss (head only on iPad), Evan S., AR Drone, Theresa Conway, Danna Thomas, Benny, Evan D., Beth Rudden, Savar Sareen, Erin Schnabel, Stacy Hobson, Kaitlin McGoldrick, and Sam Lamorte…
A special thank you to Ellen Gullo for all the work to get this event put together! Thank you Collin Dunphy and Evan – you two are going to be our bosses soon and for those of you who are interested check out Collin’s gaming site -(@Drako_BDG – Gaming site).
About Beth Rudden
Beth is a Senior Technical Staff Member and “all-round analytical rock star” – the description given to her by Katrina Reed of Citigroup – in her article “Delivering actionable insights at Citigroup”.
About the Event
More about this event can be found at Security and the Internet of Things: A World of Possibilities