Time. According to Wikipedia, time is the measure of duration of events and the intervals between them. We used to think time is something that can expand indefinitely. Still, time is much more like an incompressible wooden stick. Did you know that the 20 minutes you spend every morning turning on the coffee machine and waiting for the coffee to be ready takes up to more than 2% of your life ? Yup, that’s correct. 20 minutes spent every 24 hours, that’s 1.25 % of your day. Every day. You spend 4.56 days every year waiting in front of the coffee machine. In 60 years, you would have spent 273 days waiting every morning for your coffee to be ready. OK, maybe your coffee machine is faster than mine, but still, there’s time you could use better. As for me, I would rather use this time having fun with my family, enjoying my hobbies, hanging out with my friends or doing other things I love.
That was the reason behind our latest hack that was created in partnership with McCANN Bucharest, Doncafe coffee brand, the product innovation oriented Beko and MindTreat Studios. This all originated from a consumer research which indicated that women get on average 30 minutes less sleep, waking up to make coffee and prepare breakfast for their families. We feel that’s just not fair, so we put technology to work.
This is how ‘Snooze for Coffee’ was born. We hacked a Beko coffee machine and connected it to the WIFI network. The guys at MindTreat Studios came up with a simple alarm mobile application for both iOS and Android. Unlike your regular wake-up mobile app, when you hit the snooze button, using the “ExtraMoments” application, your coffee machine automatically starts preparing your coffee. I guarantee it, when the fantastic smell of fresh coffee reaches your nose, you will definitely NOT want to hit the snooze button again.
The whole story
It all started when McCANN Bucharest asked us whether it was possible to hack a coffee machine so that the coffee making automatically starts when you hit the snooze button in a mobile application. We had to choose between WIFI and Bluetooth as the communication channel between the phone and the coffee machine. Due to the popularity of the WIFI ( and the fact that in most cases it’s always on), we decided to choose this technology. Arduino YUN is a full-featured, WIFI enabled Arduino board, so it was the obvious choice for this project. Furthermore, Arduino YUN is able to automatically create a WIFI hotspot on demand, and also has a nice web interface which enables you to configure the WIFI network you want to connect to.
Hacking the coffee machine wasn’t too complicated, so we went for the simplest and less invasive way. We only used a relay connected in parallel with the button you manually press when you want to start making the coffee.
The guys at MindTreat Studios had a more complicated job. They had to find a way to integrate the WIFI configuration web page which Arduino YUN is using by default, in their mobile application and they had to do it in a nice way. It was a matter of sniffing the HTTP requests and browsing the generated HTML. In the end they managed to forge the HTTP requests which tricks YUN into thinking that it all happens using its default WIFI configuration page (but you do everything inside the mobile application, for a consistent experience).
The next step was just a matter of integrating the pieces. We exposed a “ping” feature on the Arduino YUN and another HTTP service which triggers the relay. The mobile application had to do a basic HTTP GET request to the Yun web server in order to trigger the coffee making process.
The default Arduino YUN configuration page
Some screenshots from the mobile application
And the final product