Project:Project Identification using QR Codes/2.0

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This is project is based on an idea of Ciarán, derived from the previous work of SamTheTechie.

A lot of discussion can be seen on the mailing list.

Why

Generally the space has a problem identifying ownership, large things get left to be worked on, or semi-abandoned when that member doesn't come as often. Other times people see something that looks cool but can't find anyone to tell them about it, or people want to use an item (dishwasher) and don't know to check for salt.

To help solve this Sam The Techie made some QR codes that could be affixed to projects so they could be identified by people with smart phones. This is a great idea but I think there were a few issues that prevented uptake.

  • No positive encouragement by members to use codes.
  • Each QR code was generated for a specific project, and only done once.
  • The codes could not easily be stuck to peoples projects.
  • Code requires a smart phone to use. Those who lack one cannot access information via the code easily.

Original Proposal

As an extension to these QR Codes I'd like to print off a few pre-generated QR codes printed onto sticky backed Avery labels. This would be accompanied by brown labels with string, so the QR code label could be stuck to the brown label, then tied around item. For situations when you don't want to put a sticker on something.

The QR code itself would direct to a web-form which when filled in generates a wiki page about that particular item. After the page is generated the QRcode will redirect to the appropriate wiki page and can be used by other people to look up who the machine belongs to, it's current status, how to use it, etc.

Alongside the QR code a few printed human readable comments would be useful. A shortened link for those who lack fancy phones (ie me), a "Responsible member:..........." box, "Can be hacked, [YES][NO]?", and "Contact details: ........". This would allow people glance at the sticker and discover who they can ask about it, or inform of it's imminent destruction. Without the need for a fancy phone.

This is for small to semi-large things, ie microwave, projectors, PCR, tesla coil, trebuchet or other works-in-progress. Things that may have indeterminate ownership. Other items like the Makerbot or laser cutter are obviously owned by the space, but may benefit from people being able looking up information and documentation about them easily.

Tables and chairs probably don't need to be tagged. (Although there's no really good reason why not, just because it's boring.)

As with many things at the space this will require a consensus to take root. People will hopefully use the system if they feel it benefits them. Although as an initial seed you'll find me walking around asking people to put them on their stuff.

I personally don't have enough coding experience to get this done on any short time-scale, but I am willing to have a crack at it. I'd like it to be written in python because that's the only language I half understand.

In short the new QR labels would be,

  • A code that can easily be stuck to a project by peeling off backing.
  • A code that can non-destructively be attached with string and brown paper labels.
  • Each code is non-unique until someone registers it.
  • A new set of codes can be generated as and when required.
  • There is human readable text to make things quicker and easier for alternative situations.

Most of these ideas are going to be transplanted onto the wiki page soon, along with some of my thinkings behind the work-flow of the programs.

What the is not

This is not a "cool project". This is a functional project to help us organise the space and improve inter-member relationships. I am not adverse to any other similar thing to interact with objects in the space eg. RFID wands, but these tend to be more complicated and more than I am capable to do.

Points Raised

Oni has experience of tagging objects and linking them to online resources for "Tales of Things" website.

We have codes on the trebuchet already, do we need to do something now?

The old tags that are being used will be grandfathered in.

Authorship

From Oni's experience the following very important to uptake of this kind of scheme. There is a "mental-barrier" to a user sticking a label on an object and 'then' linking the tag/object to an online record, ie people don't work that way. A user is much more likely to use the system if they create the record (Wiki page) 'first', and can then print a unique label to affix to an item.

Wiki First

User has a wiki page for a project. They would like a tag for it. Open some kind of web-app point it at the wiki page, and label is generated by pulling information from the page.

Pros

  • Many wiki pages already exists

Cons

  • Wiki syntax/formatting is in constant flux


Form Filling

Someone has created a thing, it needs a wiki page and a label. They go to a web-app and answer a series of easy and quick questions. Wiki page is generated and a label is printed.

Pros

  • Control over wiki page creation, and hence formatting

Cons

  • Loads of wiki pages already exist!

This won't work because...

Reasons why this won't work. So they can be addressed.


Alternative ideas

These are others ideas. Whilst I have no problem with these being implemented, I'm unlikely to do it.

RFID

...a roll of RFID stickers at 125khz isn't that expensive as I recall and we use RFID quite a bit in the space. Having an actual reader for people to
play with looks good for visitors and can be intergrated with other things such as the card system we use already. No need for printing.
I have the bits from Sparkfun to create a magic RFID wand that can link to either Babbage or Lovelace or my touch-table to do what ever we'd like
really. I think its more fun and there is some fun hacking we can do with that.
I'm thinking ahead a little here to when we get visitors (like the kids popping over from that school). I think that's something we can build and 
be little more proud of.

Stamps and Ink

How about two rubber stamps
* one with name/project/url/contact/"can be hacked" boxes
* one with the above + space for a QR code sticker
The stamps could be used straight on projects, or on stickers, or on paper tags to tie to things.

Glue and Blutack

You know what else works? Just putting some glue on the back of
regular old paper, or poking a hole through it and attaching with
string, or putting in a clear plastic bag, or blu-tack, or
thumbtacks........ :)

Implementation

Current code lives here: https://github.com/ciaranmooney/Hackspace-Labels

Preferably this entire project will be written in Python and hosted on the LHS github. This is because I (Ciarán) can only write programs in Python, and github seems to be the cool place to host code at LHS.

Based on the discussions the labelling will be implemented by an initial burst of tagging of equipment and projects. This will be done using pre-generated labels/tags and going around the space affixing them and creating wiki pages for the items. This can be done by one person, or a team.

After the initial tagging members will be encouraged to use a label printer to print tags on demand.

Workflow

The steps the program will go through to complete it's tasks

Use Case 1

A member is half-way through creating a new "CoolThing", they have created a wikipage for it and would like keep it at the space whilst they work on it. In the meantime they would like others to know about it in-case they have useful ideas.

The member opens a webpage to create a label that can be stuck on his CoolThing. It asks him for the wiki page, the backend collects all the information from the website that it needs to create the sticker and prints out a single sticky backed Dymo Printer that is connected to Lovelace.

User Experience

What will actually happen as far as the user is concerned.

  • Would be nice to have a web-interface so that labels can be printed from anywhere within the space.


TODO

  • URL shortener for hack.rs
  • label database
  • Securing wiki syntax
  • Write something that can print to avery labels on Gutenberg.
  • Write something that can print-on-demand using dynamo label printer.


Equipment

  • Dynamo label printer -- Supplied by Jonty.
  • Labels (avery)
  • Brown paper labels.