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To be honest, I didn’t even think of this as something valuable enough to talk about except when asked about it. But, one of my roommates asked me about my day and had such interest in what I’d done that I thought it good to just write it down, and perhaps others will find some utility in random items that come into their lives.

The Yellow USB Bracelet

I was a participant of Ignite Charlotte 4 as a speaker (more about that at another time). As a thank you, I was given the pictured Ignite Charlotte-branded USB memory key bracelet. It is a simple 1GB memory key in the shape of a rubber bracelet. But, you know something, I’ve been wanting something like this for sometime.

What I’ve been looking at has been the RoadID bracelets. These are suitable for those moments when you might be riding, hiking, or swimming, and would run into an emergency and it would provide a means for people to know whom you are and whom to contact in case of an emergency. And just like I’ve always done, I’ve seen utilities like these as even more useful if they can be used across online and offline domains. What intrigued me most about this gift was that I could build my own RoadID-like device, and perhaps something a bit more featured.

First Step: Analyzing What I Have

Once I realized that I only had about 1GB to play with (connected the USB key to my mobile and it was able to tell me that), I started to think first about encryption, and then about what I could do with it. I was unable to use Symbian’s ability to encrypt drives for this, so I had to rest with the idea that any encryption would have to come from a PC (probably Windows) domain.

I shelved that idea for a bit and went forward. What I needed to do next was make sure that I had enough space on the memory key for (a) backing up my phone, (b) storing a few contacts, and (c) putting some kind of document on there that would give instructions to someone who’d find it/me and needed to know next steps. Backing up the mobile was easy (connected the bracelet to the mobile using my N8’s USB-on-the-Go function, then did the backup using the Backup feature within the built-in File Manager app). Then, I went about figuring out how to do an Autorun.inf feature for the rest.

Autorun an HTML5 webpage, with Workflows Attached

Many people are familiar with, and loathe, the autorun feature. That’s when you stick a CD/DVD/memory key into your PC and then its starts running – usually some kind of splash screen that you want to quickly get through. I wanted to create one of these, but then point it to a well-branded HTML page that would have a means to identify me (just in case this is found and I’m knocked out) and have an ability to contact my emergency contacts (ICE = in case of emergency) without giving away their personal information.

After looking up how to make an autorun.inf file (its been a while), I set about making an HTML5 webpage that had only a simple graphic (my olive branch logo), and the buttons needed to continue. This went nice and well, and I was even able to get a bit fancy with some CSS3 stuff.

The next step was to make that workflow to connect an action there to my emergency contacts. I’ve been using ifttt for sometime for some tasks and chose to use it again for this one. Here, I created a few workflows:

  • The 1st would activate on the sending of an email to the ifttt servers – when that email is sent, a message would be automatically tweeted via my personal Twitter account that there’s something possibly wrong with me, with two or three people also mentioned on the tweet who’d be able to respond promptly
  • The 2nd would activate on the sending of that same email to the ifttt servers – however when that email is sent, my mobile would receive a text that either I have lost my bracelet or that there has been an emergency (this would allow my mobile to ping a tower, basically helping to find me if lost and my mobile’s battery not being dead)
  • And the 3rd would activate on the sending of that same email to the ifttt servers – which would send an automated phone call to the other ICE contacts who might not be able to see Twitter, but would respond to a phone call/voicemail message – this step is missing being able to put in a location, or better describe what might be the emergency I know, but its all about notification

Basically, its a simple page that needs that last trigger (sending of an email) to note that something is up with me. I’ve probably got to do a better job of explaining that on the webpage, but, it at least allows me some measure of being traceable in an emergency.

Next Steps, Wanted Enhancements

When I received this gift, I was actually quite excited. The first thing I saw with this bracelet was something like this. If I can manage to add an encrypted partition, and then possibly connect something fun like Github and/or Dropbox to this, I could get away with potentially a few more actions.

One of the things that I did do was to add the current version of my All Books Project – a user interface for the NET Bible – to the memory key. An entire Bible (and some additional texts), all as webpages, and fitting in a folder that’s 45MB in size. Quite neat if you ask me, and something where I can loan to another the Bible, or even just download it to their machine very quickly.

If there was anything that I’d want more from this simple wrist tool, it would be something a bit more functional than just a rubber band on my wrist. I’d like to have:

  • A clock (no really, an eink, kinetic-powered clock, perhaps one that could sync to internet time when its connected to a PC/mobile would be nice here; let it show some branded logo instead of the clock)
  • NFC+Bluetooth pairing with my mobile – don’t get me wrong, I like USB-OTG, but wireless would be nicer here
  • Built in Pedometer and heart-rate monitor – I know I’m getting into the realm of something that would need to be charged more often, but I’d really like something like this to integrate with the Sports Tracker app on my mobile. Perhaps, Sports Tracker could save a map tile to the bracelet every 15-20min of an activity (again, personal security feature)

That’s about it really. What I have now works, and as you can see from above, probably works a bit too well. There’s room for me to learn how to push it even further – but for now, I’m content.

And see, now you know how to take those swag gifted, USB drives and do something neat for youself or a family member. It took me an afternoon to do, perhaps it might take a lot shorter of a time for you.

Oh, if you are a company that has made something like this (Motorola’s MotoACTIV, MetaWatch), sorry. I’m sure that it would probably be a bit better put together than what I’ve done too. Feel free to drop a note about your product in the comments as I’m sure that some folks reading this might not want the project, but wouldn’t mind the result.

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Posted in: Commentary, MobileComments Off on Afternoon Project: ICE, Stick Bracelet into PC and Follow Instruction