Huggies, Uber, Amazon...and ITS?


Stay with me here! This might seem a little off topic but I promise it'll come back around to work zones and ITS. Lets start with Huggies.

What you see above is an Amazon Dash button. Amazon sells them for $5 and for a variety of brands, not just Huggies. Inside it is a small battery and a Wi-Fi chip. So the idea is, my wife and I attach this lil guy next to the changing table and when we notice Jr. is low on diapers we just press the button and it connects to our wifi and automatically orders some more off amazon prime. Without hopping on the computer, or pulling out my phone, a box of Huggies shows up on our doorstep in two days. Pretty slick…if not slightly disturbing.

How bout some Hacked Huggies?

With just a little open source code running on my home network however, when I press the Huggies button, it connects to my wifi but instead of going to Amazon, my server says "Nope!". It interrupts the buttons call and instead redirects it - anywhere I want. So for instance, I can have it send me an email.

It also time stamps to a spreadsheet.

This allows me to track anything I want from inside my home. But you can redirect this button press to do just about anything you can think of - its just software. In NY, its pretty tough to own a car. A fellow named Geoffrey Tisserand takes an Uber taxi to work everyday. He got sick of pulling out his phone every morning, unlocking it, finding the Uber App and typing in the same destination address (his work) and same pickup time. Every. Single. Day. So he coded it all up to this button, now when he’s done brushing his teeth he presses the button, finishes getting ready and he knows that his taxi will be there to pick him up when he's done with his bowl of cereal.

Time to tie it back to ITS JP...

Ok ok ok...things might be getting a bit off track here. Lets bring it all back to ITS. One of the limitations of this little product of Shenzhen and the smartphone supply chain is that it requires WiFi to be around. It doesn't have the battery power or price point to have cellular built in. So where can we find WiFi in the work zone world? Well how about Field Offices?

Field offices have had WiFi specified in for years. Agency personnel use it to pull down plans, send emails and schedule meetings. So what could you do with a magic WiFi button that can do anything, in a field office? Maybe you could use it to timestamp when the office is being utilized, or you could alert supervisors that you require their attention, or what about...

This is one of the oddest signs in the Standards Signs Manual. How are drivers to know when workers are present? Obviously we want motorists to comply with the speed limit, especially in work zones. People don’t ever want to hit workers, but when workers aren’t immediately visible, non-compliance can creep in and before you know it folks are humming along at 10-15mph over the work zone speed limit. What if we inform the motorist with certainty that workers ARE in fact present and to slow down. What if we pair the Dash Button with a PCMS?

Haha, while that'd be funny and all...I'm thinking more like this:

So in the morning before work starts, a manager pulls up next to the Field Office, pushes the button from his or her truck, waits a few seconds for a confirmation text message sent to their phone and the message signs on the project have been changed. It can even notify the state patrol that Double Fine enforcement can commence. Pretty slick. And not disturbing at all.

Note: All credit for first hacking the Amazon Dash goes to an intrepid hacker named Ted Benson first hacked it. I just use his open source code and brought the idea into the ITS world.