“The worst thing about agency life is submitting time sheets, and the best thing about agency life is beer. This project used the good to pay off the bad.” —juror Jon Jackson
“This is a fun, shareable and inventive idea. It solves a common creative workplace problem, feels like a first and creatively uses RFID. Maybe the best time sheet idea ever.” —juror Winston Binch
Overview: There’s a long-standing issue within creative companies, especially agencies: getting employees to do their time sheets. It’s not that creatives are irresponsible, it’s that they’d rather spend their time being creative. So instead of punishing people for not recording their hours, Colle+McVoy decided to reward them for keeping their time sheets current. The TapServer is a multikeg beer deployment system that rewards employees with free beer for being current with their time sheets. Using RFID, Arduinos, solenoids, flow sensors, Raspberry Pi, two iPads and a node-based server, a simple scan of an employee ID card authenticates time sheet completion and dispenses hoppy goodness.
• The TapServer houses four kegs with independent pressure lines.
• Two iPad screens display the type of beer, a short description, alcohol by volume and international bitterness units.
• Flow sensors measure the amount poured per person from each keg, allowing the agency to measure how much beer is left in each keg and what type of beer employees choose most.
Comments by Mike Caguin, Paul Lammert and Chris Moen:
Were there any specific demands that made the project easier or harder? “Building a kegerator is not particularly difficult. What’s more challenging is building a kegerator that controls access, accounts for time sheet completion, pours beer with minimal foam and is stable enough that you don’t have to have an attendant present at all times.”
Did you meet with any out-of-the-ordinary obstacles during development? “Absolutely. On the technical side, we originally wanted to use an open-source project called Kegbot, but we quickly discovered its limitations and decided we needed to write the software from scratch. This allowed us to fully customize our solution so we could work with RFID, Active Directory and our finance solution for time tracking. On the mechanical side, our biggest issue was controlling the temperature so that beer would flow with a minimal amount of foam. This proved to be just as challenging as the technical development because it was difficult to regulate the temperature of both the kegs and the lines while also independently regulating the CO2 pressures.”
What software, back-end technology and programming languages were used? “We used Node.js as the language to write everything, running with Express as the web server; Socket.IO to facilitate communication between the iPads and the server; and MongoDB as the database. We chose this combination because we can code the whole stack in a single language. We see the strengths of this architecture and think we will see a lot more of it. The project allowed us to get some new tech under our belts and discover what’s possible.”