Hack Day 2017: Onwards Defrosted Tuna

Hack Day 2017, ‘Let’s Get Physical’, required that every entry contain a hardware component. To meet this requirement, the ‘Onwards Defrosted Tuna’ team decided to leverage the Caplin Platform to enable a web application to initiate and terminate calls on a user’s smartphone.

Inspiration

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Any good hack day entry has the following qualities: it has to be achievable within 24 hours and it has to have the potential to deliver real business value.

We drew our inspiration from a previous Caplin trial project that explored integrating the Caplin Platform with trading turrets to enable traders to initiate and receive calls in Caplin web applications:

Why was this trial project an interesting idea?

  • Phone numbers could be stored in the Caplin Platform; sales traders would not need to keep all their clients’ phone numbers.
  • The Caplin Platform could record statistics, such as call duration, and persist them for later auditing.
  • Notification, client profiles, and rates could be presented automatically when a client called.

The idea never took off, but the trial project became the inspiration for our Hack Day entry. Could we implement a modern version of the project using smartphones instead of turrets?

Hack Day

We managed to create a minimal viable solution in under 24 hours. We wrote a mobile app that initiated and terminated calls on a trader’s smartphone in response to messages sent by a web application over the Caplin Platform.

No turret was required, and all we used was the standard Android SDK and Caplin Platform libraries.

Our solution consisted of the following:

  • Mobile app:
    • Initiate and terminate calls
    • Relay information to and from the Caplin Platform
  • Front-end:
    • A grid to display available clients
    • Phone calls initiated by selecting a client from the grid.
    • Display status and caller details on the grid
  • Back-end:
    • An adapter to receive and execute instructions from the front-end

The main technical hurdles we faced were as follows:

  • Requesting the mobile app’s access to phone features and setting the correct security settings
  • Rather than running a monitoring background process, the mobile app needed to be kept alive in the foreground. This was not ideal, and given more time we could have solved this.

Final Word

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Onwards Defrosted Tuna achieved first place and lifted the coveted Hack Day Cup!

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