Courier Day 2015: Creativity, Office Improvement, and Fish-Robots

Courier Day 2015: Creativity, Office Improvement, and Fish-Robots

Once per year, DMC holds a "FedEx Day" where all employees pause other work to dedicate an entire day to a project of their choosing. In the same vein, DMC also holds a "Courier Day" once per year, which is a shorter version of FedEx Day. Beginning with a kickoff lunch at noon and continuing until the end of the day, Courier Days are optional and no project presentation is required. With less focus on a deliverable product, Courier Day projects are usually smaller and simpler than FedEx Day projects, and also tend to focus more on making integral improvements to existing initiatives rather than starting brand new ones.

Check out the recap of some of our recent Courier Day projects below!

DMC Chicago

DMC has recently been helping several of our clients integrate Bluetooth connectivity into their products, allowing users to interact with their products using smartphone applications. Each of the products we’ve worked with have involved unique use cases that presented different challenges. A few examples include robustly securing and authenticating Bluetooth connections, transferring large amounts of data quickly, and controlling multiple devices efficiently. One team spent Courier Day using the knowledge gained from conquering each of these challenges to create a standard library of Bluetooth functionality that we can easily integrate into future iOS and Android applications for our clients.

The Chicago lab also acquired an X-Carve this year, which is an incredibly customizable tool (read: toy for engineers) that, not unlike a 3D-printer, can take commands from a computer to carve any shape into most materials. The X-Carve was upgraded on Courier Day with a team adding an E-Stop (Emergency Stop) button for added safety, writing user documentation, and installing a SuperPID. The SuperPID allows the user to control the speed of the cutting head, which means it can be slowed down to cut softer materials like plastic and wood, and also makes rotation much quieter.

Working on modifications for the X-Carve in DMC's lab on Courier Day 2015

One of our favorite toys, the infamous Ping-Pong app (recently upgraded to include our new foosball table), got yet another upgrade this Courier Day with the addition of a remote trigger for the WiFi button of the GoPro used to record gameplay videos.

DMC engineers working on building a remote WiFi trigger for the Ping Pong app

A large portion of the Chicago office also dedicated some time to revamping the technical portion of our hiring process. The details are top-secret, though — you'll just have to apply for a job at DMC if you want to learn more!

Improving and revamping DMC's recruiting and hiring process on Courier Day 2015

DMC Boston

How many fish does it take to control a Segway? Apparently, just one (plus a handful of engineers). The Boston office split themselves into the "Not-A-Fish-Robot group" and the "Fish-Robot Group". The former worked on office improvement initiatives, including lab cleanup, upgrading the thermostat, and developing a DMC marketing demo.

DMC Boston's newly organized lab shelves

Boston's "Fish-Robot Group" worked on building what will eventually become a fish-controlled Segway that will autonomously navigate the office. This robot works by tracking goldfish movement in a bowl using OpenCV, and then sends the movement to a custom-built Segway. DMC has a rough version of goldfish tracking finished, and has basic controls for the custom Segway using Raspberry Pis. Pretty soon, you will be seeing fish rolling by on the sidewalk. Thanks to a side project that spun off of the main Fish-Robot project, you might also be able to visit a website soon where you can remotely watch and feed Stevie, the robot test pilot. Stay tuned!

Working on DMC's new "Fish-Robot" using OpenCV and Raspberry Pis

Image blurred per Stevie's request for anonymity.

DMC New York

In case you haven't noticed from our pattern of building applications to take casual gaming to the next level, DMC takes our Core Value of Having Fun very seriously. DMC's New York office is no exception, and spent Courier Day developing and improving a chess tracking application. Similar to the Pool and Ping-Pong applications, the program can be used to track wins and losses of each individual player. By using vision inspection to detect the locations of pieces throughout the game, the application can also track the individual moves players make in each game. This functionality was built using a .NET wrapper to the OpenCV image processing library called Emgu CV.

Chess tracking application built by DMC's New York office for Courier Day 2015

With an integrated computer chess engine, the computer is able to look at the location of pieces on the board and suggest or predict ideal movements and strategies to win the game (and also let you know when you made a terrible move). The application itself was built using .NET with WPF, a graphical platform made by Microsoft for building user interfaces.

Chess tracking application built by DMC's New York office for Courier Day 2015

DMC Denver

DMC's Denver office spent Courier Day making various improvements around the office. Jimmy and Boris collaborated to get the lab space's Simotion hardware working. With a VFD and 2 servo drives working and spinning, it was an awesome improvement to the lab space that will benefit future projects in testing and development.

Jimmy and Boris working in DMC's Denver office lab space on Courier Day 2015
Nice job, guys.

As the only office with a pool table, DMC Denver gives Chicago's ping-pong app a run for its money with their pool app. Tyler spent Courier Day making improvements to the application (which was, in itself, a vast improvement over the whiteboard previously used). The app keeps track of 3 and 5 man cutthroat games by remembering player order from the lag result, ball assignment, and balls remaining on the table. This functionality makes cutthroat much easier to keep track of. The app runs on an Android tablet with code written in Java, which is available on Github. Play ball!

DMC Denver's pool app developed for Android with Java

Elsewhere in Denver, Nick worked on cleaning up his efficient garden project from our last FedEx Day, while Otto added monitors to his desk to bring it into the 21st century.

Learn more about DMC's company culture.


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