Defcon 27 TV3Y3 Badge

The first electronic badge to function as an augmented reality development product premiering at Defcon 27.

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awkwardai has 372 orders / 6reviews
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Drawing it's name from a Stooges song,

The Defcon 27 TV3y3 Badge is an augmented reality development tool launching at Defcon 27 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The ultimate goal is to show that you can create AR content without relying on facial recognition technology.

I knew my DC27 badge was going to have an augmented reality aspect to it before I even showed up to DC26. The shape and function of the badge has changed about 10 times since then. 

It is still early but let's talk about what this badge is and what it will do. 

1. There will be an AR game playable on iOS and Android that will utilize the space within and around Defcon 27.

2. You will need the badge to win the game but not to experience the world built into this app. 

3. The badge, while having electronic parts, will be static unless you win the game or add a shitty add-on. 

4. The game and badge are being developed side by side. 

Now let's talk about where this started so you can see how I got to where I'm at right now.

1. The original design was going to be based on an IR camera system, MPU, and 4" transparent OLED screen. The original cost to manufacture was close to $200/each. 

2. Realizing that the screen, camera, and game features could be run on a normal phone, the badge became more about the artwork being read by the phones camera.

3. Originally I wanted to use LEDs on the badge to change the avatar of the player. This actually worked but not reliably enough to build an entire app and badge around. (see video below)

4. Since the LED system is unreliable, the badge artwork is now crucial to the function within the game, I've had to strip anything from the design that could interfere with the app. This means all electronics will appear on the back, the front will be all art.

So, that's where we are at design wise. Now let's talk about the factors keeping this from happening. 

1. I am using a third party image recognition software for this app to save time. I foresee three possible scenarios:

A. I develop my own image recognition software (least likely). 

B. I do a kickstarter to pay the licensing fees upfront. (most likely).

C. The game ships with a big ol' fat "Vuforia" watermark. (50/50)

2. The size. I have a functioning demo of this app that can recognize my badge and other images. This doesn't include ANY of the interactive elements needed to finish the game and the current demo size is 6.6gb on iOS.   O_O

3. The App store. I've never put anything on an app store but I am prepared for whatever I submit to be rejected. (that's the only thing that would make sense after a successful kickstarter and licensing rights are aquired).

The solutions:

1. If no money is acquired up front then the bare bones distribution would be to download the app and install it yourself. This would kill the entire game for me. I wouldn't expect a bunch of security experts to take the time to install an app from an unknown developer at Defcon. It seems if it's not in an app store than everything else becomes an uphill battle.

2. I scrap the game. This is the last thing I want to do because I am developing these together but there are 3 big hurdles to get the game out (licensing, app store, size). I have more control over the aspects of the badge than the game, so it could possibly just be sold with different attachments.

3. Time and research. I scale down the size and scope of the game to get it small enough to get onto peoples phones, I make sure I double check all the app store requirements, and pay out of pocket for the licensing fees. 

I think the approach will probably be close to solution 3, which I realize isn't ideal but more practical. 

Where am I at now? 

Well I have a demo version of the app and a prototype of the badge. Current issues include:

1. Badge size. It's going to need to be 30% bigger and have more simplified activation images in order for cell phone cameras to work properly. 

2. Glare. Right now direct light reflections are inhibiting the apps ability to recognize the image when it catches glare. Possible solutions are going with a matte finish (the image is going to need to be inverse anyways) or...

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W203948ASN72_W203948AXN69_Finaltv3y3 (1).zip

Final Gerbers for TV3Y3

Zip Archive - 2.83 MB - 12/05/2019 at 16:46



Image to be used for Image Target.

JPEG Image - 603.47 kB - 12/05/2019 at 16:44



Image to be used for Image Target.

JPEG Image - 511.98 kB - 12/05/2019 at 16:44



Image to be used for Image Target.

JPEG Image - 2.25 MB - 12/05/2019 at 16:44



Image to be used for Image Target.

JPEG Image - 2.20 MB - 12/05/2019 at 16:44


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  • Post-Defcon Update

    awkward intelligence12/05/2019 at 16:43 0 comments


    I’m very happy with the reaction to my TV3Y3 Badge. It was my first foray into a functional electronic indie badge for Defcon. 

    It was conceived for a class project in Game Experiences. The idea was to have a badge system you could build avatars around for Augmented Reality Games and avoid using facial recognition technology. 

    The blinky lights were something extra that people could hack on. 

    I funded this project by selling Shitty Add-On’s on Tindie and it JUST BARELY paid for itself. I barely broke even but that’s not important. The important thing, to me, was that I learned some new skills that I could roll over into next years badge. 

    I had an Augmented Reality demo back in December, which I built into the backend of a campus navigation app that I created for Georgia State University. 

    So if you were using the app on GSU property back in December and happened to be wearing my badge you would appear as an alien in the App. 

    The idea was to have a fully functional game in time for Defcon but I realize now that I spread myself too thin. 

    I submitted a talk to SEVillage that got accepted and I had to make some hard choices as to what I could realistically pull off in time for Defcon. 

    If anything this project should be a lesson in Time Management. 

    I based a lot of my Shitty Add-On’s off of Twinkle Twinkies side-view led method, only each project I took was an exercise in how far I can bend light behind a board and eventually it caught up with me. 

    The problem was that my designs demanded an unanticipated amount of hot glueing to achieve the effect (much more time than it took to solder the components). If you look at my back of mine and Twinkles designs, mine has specific channels for the light to flow through - it was a pain in the ass - but overall I’m happy with the effect and seeing people reaction to them. These add-ons however added DAYS to my production backlog. 

    To be fair, back in March, I sketched out a rough timeline of where I wanted to be when in each step of the design process. 

    Back to the TV3Y3: 

    The design was rebuilt from scratch (compared to the prototype) and made to accommodate an attiny85 running a Charlieplexed LED matrix. This took about 3 weeks on and off. Once the designs were done I made a template so different faces could be made and allow for different avatars. 

    I never got to that part because the TV3Y3 sales were barely enough to cover the hidden costs of the products. (Shipping, lanyards, parts, packaging, etc)

    I put an attiny85 on the board with the intention that people would want to hack it to run their own projects. 

    There is an 8 pin chip holder so you can change the chips. 

    There is a secret way to cut the traces that would give you back access to 4 of the pins and effectively kill the matrix schematic. 

    The bare copper artwork on the back is designed to give you access to other parts of the board:

    1. The Golden Girls will give you access to the data pins of the Shitty Add-On ports.

    2. The dots around the fractal artwork will give you access to the copper tentacles on the front of the board. 

    3. The Mario artwork would give you access to power, ground, and other random parts of the schematic. (See the Gerber image)

    4. The spare pinout by the Mario artwork is the reset pin. 

    With these access points there is a lot you can add/hack onto this board, you are only limited by your own creativity. 

    Once you make your changes the battery holder was placed in a way to neatly cover up your work and protect it. 

    A note on the design:

    The design choices were often a blend of external factors, limitations and conscious choices about how I wanted people to interact with this badge. 

    I built it with the intent of an AR game to accompany it (which is still just a demo at this point) but it remains to be seen if I will have time to...

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