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Mozilla Festival 2016 : A Recap through the journey

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MozFest is an annual, hands-on festival for and by the open Internet movement. Every year, bright minds from around the world build, debate, and explore the future of our lives online. In this publication, we invite everyone to share their thoughts and start conversations.

And I had the unique opportunity to attend and take three sessions for the 2016 chapter. MozFest is a unique learning experience and a journey in itself. There are so many interesting things and session that follow those three days that it becomes almost impossible to follow everything (more on that later). So I will focus my narrative mostly on my sessions.

Though technically I had three different sessions. One of them was supposed to go on for all of the days and once we reached we had to immediately start setting things up for that one.

Session 1: Painting with Virtual Reality and A-Painter

The primary goal of the session was to showcase the capabilities of A-frame and what a-painter can do. We had a lot of fun throughout MozFest getting hundreds of digital paintings being made and shared.

The hardware for the session required us to have a HTC Vive and a really beefy machine. Those two were shipped form Mozilla Berlin office. Me and Dietrich had an awesome adventure first day setting them up with a keyboard with non-us layout and configuring steam.

Lesson Learnt: Always figure out the exact version of api and chromium the demo can run smoothly before updating everything. You may not be able to downgrade and have to look for hacky solutions.

Session 2: Are you well? When connected devices know more about you
This was a talk I came up as a progress and extension of a talk I did with Dietrich a year back in OpenIoT Summit. The concept came specially handy when we had Mozilla’s Project Magnet and beacons taking over. For Mozfestation (a unique challenge that Dietrich hacked overnight) we had almost more than 100 Bluetooth beacon throughout whole building. And participants had to tag all of them. This talk became the perfect test-ground for that since essentially I deal with a way where just by being a passive observer and walking with my mobile i should be able to locate all the beacons. Just by form their relative location and Signal strength. And more importantly the opposite. If we had way to record data form these beacons, I could potentially figure out where the person was walking throughout the building. I saw this as a huge privacy leak, and something you just cannot solve immediately as this is all done by passive observation. I wished to and still wish to spark more discussion, brainstorming on how can prevent this kind of privacy leaks. A short account of my talk slides are below. Do leave a comment if you have any questions

Disclaimer: This talk does have more technical details than my normal talks have. So don’t hesitate to poke me in comments if you are curious about anything!

Session 3: Build on WebVR and touch to interact! Come Augmented Reality for the web!

This was a combination of my WebVR talk along with demos of what we can do with a little touch of Augmented Reality and how we can use our mobile phones to actually interact and touch (using back-camera and our trust getUsermedia() ).

The session however was a little in disarray after a mishap about timing/rescheduling and miscommunication. At the end I had to informally meet with the people who wanted to attend and show them.

Overall just like every-time MozFest was super fun, super exciting, super exhausting and filled with memories I cherish.

Also not to mention I get to meet friends whom I have very less chance to meet throughout the year, notably Flaki, Ioana, Michael, Ellio, Priyanka, Soumya (who incidentally had a talk about “Machine Learning for the Masses”, no idea how he pulled that one off).

Later at my other talk at Met’s Office in GraphicalWeb when I was talking with some other speakers, they brought one concern to me. That slowly MozFest has become too condensed. Too many sessions, too many things going on to concentrate on anything. I don’t necessarily feel that is a bad thing, but that is one feedback I got.

Will be interested to see how all of you feel about it, specially my second session.

Happy Hacking! 

And if you are near New York and interested in IoT, privacy and security. You might drop by at Princeton where I will(might?) be present at the adversarial design of IoT used at Home.

(that “might” stems from the fact that, they have been changing dates like crazy, and might affect if I can attend it or not)

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