Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Making Of Bierdar

"24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence?" 

                                                                                               -Stephen Wright-
Imaging you are with your best buddies in a college town craving for a nice batch of cold beers. Where to go ? What to drink? Behold! The Bierdar ! - For the benefit of drinking good beers with friends! This is what happened to me just a few weeks ago coming back home to my university old stomping grounds. What a stupid idea! Brilliant! There needs to be an app for that. 

And like that, Bierdar was born.

The portmanteau

Bierdar is a portmanteau of the German word for beer (Bier) and Radar and it perfectly describes what the app is intended to do. On the surface Bierdar simply shows you if a beer opportunity is close by. Under the hood, Bierdar is an informal social network of random encounters with likeminded people around the theme of beer.

In contracts to most Asian cities are European cities far more inclusive, healthy, soulful, and thriving. One of the reasons for this is, besides the awesome micro-breweries, the city design around a shared core that allows for people to slowly stroll along, sit in one of the many street cafe’s which allows its citizens to randomly bump into each other in a fun and informal manner. 

Most Asian cities could develop easily into a similarly engaging environments by just having more places to sit and better breweries. Very simple ideas like that can make an actual difference. But the problem is that law makers move slower than people choose to urbanize. Thus, finding other ways to make cities more engaging is one of the problems tenqyu aims to solve. 

This is where the bierdar concept comes in. While it is a little app that seems to not have much functionality, it will evolve from a little helper for
the smart cities community into something bigger. As it creates an informal mesh-network this technology will be a benefit for beer connoisseurs and bars to connect and in addition creates cleaner and unassuming cityscapes by removing obtrusive advertising in a post-pc era.

How does it do that ?

While a radar uses electromagnetic waves to detect and locate objects, the Bierdar uses Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons (ne: iBeacons). When a beer is near, the Bierdar will display a small beer (figure 1) and when you are closing in the Bierdar will display a larger beer (figure 2). At each point in time it is possible to build up a mesh-network with the other beacon to easily chat about the beer conditions.

Following that, the user can start a mesh network with the other user. The important distinction here is that the user who has beer and the user who wants beer are using the different functionality of the beacon. (figure 3)

If you have beer, then you will be advertising the signal (figure 4). This is a very simply yet effective solution to find beer without any sign-in, and too much of an overhead. Following this a multi-peer chat network (IOS7 feature) can be initated to find out more about who is on the other side of the beacon.

So from a technical perspective the key feature is that the app now does not need an Internet connection to work. It creates a mesh network between users and the Internet with a the new multi-peer connectivity framework which was introduced in iOS7. As this technology becomes more mainstream it could have profound effects on how beer aficionados across the world connect with themselves.

And, by this the fratboy in my was cheering by the opportunity of having great beers with some random fun people.

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