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SAP continues to dive head first into the world of APIs and the Internet of Things (IoT), bringing a Smart Vending machine, powered by our own SAP API Management, to the APIWorld + Dataweek Hackathon this weekend hosted by The Impact Hub in downtown San Francisco. We exposed a number of APIs through our SAP API Management solution which is being released Monday, September 15th to the general public. For more details about the release, please visit our SCN page http://scn.sap.com/community/developer-center/api-management.

The idea behind our set up was to create APIs, which would be governed by our SAP API Management solution, to enable the “smarts” of our Smart Vending machine in real time, so the hackers could see the result of what they were doing in front of their eyes..

Our team created 3 APIs for this event which enables the ability to:

  1. See what was inside the machine at that very moment and, if hungry, actually dispense any of the contents using any device capable of sending a RESTful command to the cloud which would pass through the SAP API Management system to the Smart Vending Machine (SVM).
  2. Access an SAP backend server with a sample EPM service which would let them create a full End-to-End sales order Scenario when vending
  3. For the truly ambitious, an API that enables the user to design a full fledged workflow process.


We unlocked all of the Security and Traffic Management features of the SAP API Management solution, giving full unfettered access to control the machine, to a crowd of 150+ hackers, simply telling them to impress us with their creativity, and we were quite pleased with what we got back.

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(Developers lining up in the morning hungry to get going!)


From the get go everyone was excited to hear what was being offered by HP, Microsoft, Good Data, IBM, Traitify, Sabre, SAP and many more sponsors, so that they could get off and running to develop the next great idea. At the start the hackers had a lot of questions regarding what the vending machine was, how they could access the APIs to interact with it, and what they could do with it, and after that it was time to glue noses to computer screens!



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(Developers have lots of questions and want to play with the vending machine right away)




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(The SAP API Management Developer Portal Entry screen hackers were greeted with to get started)



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(The hackerspace in the morning and after the hackers flooded in to start developing)





While the hackers were heads-down, working away, the SAP API Management and Smart Vending Machine support team had some down time, in-between questions, but that didn’t mean we were just sitting around! Juergen from SAP Palo Alto’s D-Shop experimental lab brought out his brain scanning device, and began to work on his own Vending machine hack (don’t worry he wasn’t eligible for the prize, sorry Juergen) to dispense chips simply by thinking about them. I know I’d like be able to do that, wouldn’t you? This was a great demonstration of how flexible APIs are, enabling any device you can think of to get hooked in to your project right away!


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(SAPs own Inga sporting the Brain Scan Device. Does she look like she is thinking about chips?)


The hackers went late in to the night of Day 1, and were back early day 2 for another heavy day of coding and finalizing their apps. Time flew by, and one of the great things during this time was being able to interact with the hackers in-person when they stopped by the booth, as well as being able to interact with them through the SAP API Management Developer Portal forum, and monitor their progress in real time via the Analytics side.


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(Dashboard view from our side of hackers questions and answers)




Before we knew it, it was time to see the demos! We were very excited to see what ideas people had. There were at least 25 team presentations, with team sizes varying from 1 to 4, and it was amazing to see the variety of innovative ideas.


Some of my other favorites included

  • Facial recognition in place of remembering dozens of complex passwords to log in to all your sites (facebook, twitter, etc)
  • Video feed  analysis, in order to pick out individuals from a crowd, able to determine crowd count.
  • Accelerated Solar cost determination using OCR and analytics.



Many technologies touched on Vending. One was the App tying in to fixed retail points, that would sense when a user entered into a broadcast radius, and would then send them special deals and offers in order to entice them to the locale; an app designed to create travel location suggestions to keep travelers happy even when in a completely new country, and more, but the top 3 entries were:


VendMyChips

In an effort to speed up the transaction process, this team created an Android App, which would pull a list of products and stock levels from the vending machine, along with pictures of the products to accompany them from the nearest available Smart vending Machine. With the tap of the screen the machine vends the item. After vending the app creates a receipt and emails the user and owner to track the transaction.

It doesn’t get much simpler than that for both owner and user to do business! This fits in very neatly with SAP’s mission to Simplify Everything so that you can Do Anything. Great Job!



Augmented Reality Vending

Buying chips just became more fun! This team created an Augmented Reality app which would analyze a users preferences via Traitifys personality determination software, then recommend a snack choice based on this assessment. The user can then vend the selected item from the real vending machine by tapping the vend button on a small Virtual Vending machine displayed on a smartphone, tablet or other camera-enabled device, which simulates the real machine. The virtual vending machine pulled the stock levels and pictures of items from the real machine, perfectly showing in miniature what was available to the user in real time anywhere there were. Very different and cool!


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(Is that a tiny vending machine or a giant bag of chips?)

VENDERATOR

As the team explained, the name coming from Terminator, was to set out to kill the competition in vending! Actually their solution was much more friendly than it sounds, and good thing for them, SAP being such a friendly company, it helped secure their victory in the midst of stiff competition. The venderator team developed some very cool business concepts, that will really flesh out the future Smart Vending machines.

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(Team Vendorator presenting their solution)

They created an app that would monitor all connected Smart Vending machines locations, and how “Healthy” a machine was by monitoring how much stock was being vended from each machine, pulling data from our inventory API, and creating an easy to understand health rating for the machine (more sales = more health), enabling owners to quickly and easily know where to focus attention in order to maximize Vending sales.

Additionally, for machines that were TOO healthy, they also added a feature to change the price of items on the fly, based on the level of item stock, how quickly they were being sold, and time to next restocking. In this way when sales are hot, the Smart Vending machine can increase the price to get the most bang for the buck from the remaining items.

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Apologies in advance to everyone at the next big event who gets to the vending machine late in the day, and pays a little extra for a drink!

This could of course also work the other way, in order to attract customers to a less healthy retail site, prices could be tweaked down, giving incentive to visit that machine!

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This team really impressed us with the depth of their idea, and when we loaded up the data on how the hackers were using the API in the SAP API Management analytics screens, we saw that Venderator had truly lived up to its name, by blowing away the other hackers. It was no easy decision to choose a winner, but when we saw this it definitely cemented it for us.

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(The “Top Performance View” of SAP API management shows Venderators Developer traffic through the roof!)

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(In the SAP API Management main dashboard we can see Venderator Apps traffic crushing all the others!)

From the data we all agreed and Venderator walked away with the $1,000 Hackathon prize from SAP!

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(The winners stands holding their prize with the SAP Smart Vending Machine, man and machine teaming up!)

Congratulations to the team, and thanks to everyone who participated in this event, it was a great deal of fun watching people playing with the machine, seeing their interactions in real time through our SAP API Managment solution, hearing people vending chips from who knows where, and collaborating to come up with new and exciting ideas to help shape the future. We hope you had as good a time as we did, and we hope to see you again!

We will be displaying the Smart Vending Machine, as well as some other great SAP technologies, such as DiscoverSimple Assist using Google Glass and Visual Showroom, an Augmented Reality Virtual Showroom created in partnership with Quantilus, and a large Crane demo of collision avoidance created in partnership with SK technologies to highlight the power of SAP’s new release of SAP API Management at the upcoming APIWorld + Dataweek Conference in SF on September 16th and 17th, if you would like to see it for yourself.

Hope to see you there!

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