Presenting Imp at Innovator Conference

To preface this post, I want to say that I am really excited about Electric Imp. I see great potential in imp for quick prototyping and then taking consumer product ideas into production. I have a few ideas that I hope that I can take all the way and turn into a full-time business. I have been developing software professionally for over 20 years and I am sharing imp with my co-workers. I own a Rachio Iro and love it. I will evangelize the imp whenever I can. I am about as pro-imp as they come.

Yesterday I presented a beginning imp class to a group of developers and they got it. We brainstormed an internet connected toaster and talked about what code would be on the device and what would be on the agent. But unfortunately even though the BlinkUp got a green light (then followed by red and amber) I was never able to connect to the internet in this presentation setting. Not having any control over the network at the venue, I was stuck. I tried connecting to a mobile hotspot from Windows Phone as well as iPhone 5 but no luck. I was embarrassed for myself and for the imp.

Now I have an opportunity to work on a project for an innovator conference where I could show the imp in a consumer product prototype in front of hundreds of people. I am really excited about my idea but have a short timeline to complete. What I am afraid will happen is that I will get on stage for the demo and the imp won’t connect at that venue either.

What can I do to virtually guarantee that the imp can connect for the presentation? You have done demos of the imp in this type of environment. I am looking for every tried and successful strategy. For those that have successfully connected via mobile hotspots what mobile phone, model and OS version were you running? I very much want to do this presentation and not having a demo that works on stage is not an option.

The big problem with conferences tends to be the bigger they are, the worse the networking is (try getting ANY working wifi at maker faire for example: there are 200+ networks visible, and none of them are working).

Relying on conference wifi is best, IF they have no landing page. Depending on where the conference is hosted, that may or may not be the case.

The second best is to use a hotspot - a real one, not a phone one. Phone hotspots do often work, but not always (I’ve used iPhone and iPad hotspots fine before now, but eg the iphone/ipad can’t deal with the imp’s signal strength and so needs to be several feet away for this to work reliably in my experience - also, if you enable powersave mode on the imp things don’t work well as the phone doesn’t support this well).

You can get unlocked 3G hotspots pretty cheaply from amazon; I’ve used this one: (with an AT&T SIM, as it only supports LTE on AT&T bands)

and this one:

and this one:

and this one:

(this is the one we use to run hackathons etc, it’s serious overkill and very expensive but it’s a great piece of kit)

…with imps and had no issues. I’ve never actually had issues with ANY dedicated hotspot and an imp.