Reading Hotspot project launches

This week saw the launch of the Reading Hotspot project for Reading 2016 Year of Culture.

Four students from UTC Reading are working with Mark Stanley from The Things Network Reading to develop Internet of Things sensors that will be installed in arts centres and museums around Reading.

Mark explained the project:

“Reading’s arts scene has to work hard to get the attention of a largely commuting population. If we can better connect artists and audiences in Reading we can increase attendance at performances at venues in Reading.”

“By the end of the summer we aim to give audiences a very simple way to find out ‘Where’s hot in Reading?’ and rate the events they attend. We’ll provide the arts and culture venues with objective data that demonstrates the impact of different events, and which will support funding bids for future events.

The team(left to right): Kieron Cardall, Simon Light, Sam Kimbinyi, Tom Helyer

The team(left to right): Kieron Cardall, Simon Light, Sam Kimbiny, Tom Helyer

The team has been given a base at Reading’s collaboration incubation and co-working hub, GROW@GreenPark, and will run throughout the summer holidays. The students are using laptops donated by local geeks and supporters of The Things Network.

“Reading Hotspots is about connecting Our audiences and artists and growing the attendance at arts events in Reading, but it’s also about demonstrating that Reading is once more becoming a hub of technology innovation in the UK.” said Mark. “Reading has the biggest Things Network in the UK, it’s free to use and there is a lot of community interest in what we can do with it! I’m delighted that Reading Council is looking at low cost ways to explore Smart City technology like this, it’s very encouraging and forward thinking.”

About The Things Network

The Things Network is a global, free to use, wireless data network for the Internet of Things. It began in Amsterdam in August 2015 and has spread to nearly 200 communities around the world.
Mark Stanley and Mike Beardmore started The Things Network in Reading in December 2015, so the people, schools and startups in and around Reading can use it to build and connect their “Things” to the Internet.

Contact: Mark Stanley: or for visit

About Thingitude Ltd

Thingitude is a non-profit organisation established to promote, support and develop community-led open source Internet of Things projects. We believe a great deal of Smart City innovation and value will come from a bottom-up community-led approach to complement the top-down consultancy-led approach. We also believe in Smart Towns, Smart Villages, and Smart Countryside!

Thingitude was successful in its bid for Reading 2016 Year of Culture funding for the Reading Hotspot project. The project is also part-funded by Coraledge Ltd.

Contact: Mark Stanley: or visit

About Reading 2016 Year of Culture

Year of Culture will be the most important cultural and creative activity undertaken in Reading in a generation. The aims of the initiative include uniting the existing arts and culture organisations in Reading, and increasing the cultural ambition of Reading to make the town a destination for arts and culture in the UK

Reading 2016 received seed funding from Reading Cultural Partnership and is supported by Reading UK CIC, the University of Reading, Reading Borough Council, Reading College, Alt Reading as well as many local arts groups and businesses.

Our first Thingithon!

attendees at the Thingithon

Team Thingithon!

This weekend we held our first ever Thingithon! Our event was part of the amazing Festival of Digital Disruption, organised and held at the GROW@Green Park collaboration, incubation and co-working hub in Reading. The family friendly day was billed as Rise of the Makers, and was an opportunity for some of Reading’s finest makers to showcase their goodies. There was 3D printing, virtual reality, hi-tech art and fashion, and really low-tech but excellent cardboard designs, and plenty more besides …and of course the Thingithon.

The challenge we set for the Thingithon - automatically announce when a person enters the office

Fancy a challenge?

Using the Reading Hotspot prototype, the challenge was to automatically announce when a person enters the office. We decided to give different people their own theme tune or sound that would announce their arrival. The idea is that when someone comes into the office the hotspot will identify them for by recognising their mobile phone, and then an app will play their them tune.

Hotspot prototype - Pi, TTN Uno, sensors

Reading Hotspot prototype – what a beauty!

We got the hotspot sending data to The Things Network using a pre-production Things Uno that Johan kindly gave us when I was in Amsterdam last month.

The team then set about working out how to identify inidividuals, and how to know if they had just arrived or were already here (in which case no theme tune).

Beavering away

Beavering away

Throughout the day we had a lot of interest from other people and there was plenty of time to talk about The Things Network and how it can be used. It is always great to see people’s imaginations spark up at the potential of the Internet of Things.

Our team was a great mix of youth and experience. Four of the team are studying at University Technical College and are interested in working on the Hotspot project over the summer – which has been funded as part of Reading’s Year of Culture. Mike, Paul and myself are rather more crusty experienced and Mike did a great job helping everyone work through some of the tricky bits. Most importantly he made his Pi bark like a dog whenever he entered the room!

In full swing

In full swing

Kieron and Simon made all the early progress and were able to identify new arrivals by the middle of the afternoon, but it was Sam and Tom who managed to squeeze out a theme tune before the day ended!

Badges all round

Badges all round

Footnote: My favourite thing of the day was Hannah Napier’s Eggbot. Hannah and dad Malcolm are better known for their RepRap 3D printers but yesterday Hannah brought along an egg-decorating machine. The results are delightful…

Egg decoration courtesy of Eggbot!

Egg decoration courtesy of Eggbot!

Many thanks to Simone and Louize from GROW for organising yet another great event. Looking forward to the next one ?