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Friday, February 3, 2017

Upgraded Android client with location-based check-in/check-out process

Check-in/check-out refers to built-in functions (%checkin%, %checkout%) and used to change the user status from present to absent (this also could be translated as locked/unlocked or arm/disarm flag to some) and vice versa. It also raises oncheckin/oncheckout events as described in AppConfig.xml. You can bypass defaults by using custom events (e.g. mycheckin/mycheckout).

Some things in technology are meant to be deprecated, but yet, it's our responsibility to follow and make upgrades, new versions and provide new features.

I’m always looking for the best approach to perform check-in/check-out operations when I arrive or leave home. Jubito has the check-in/check-out functionality that allows us to perform a sequence of tasks depending on the event. For instance, on check-in we can turn on an assistive light, disable the camera and motion detection, checking email, etc, and inverse actions on check-out.

In the early days, I used bluetooth scan as a means to check-in when my cellphone was in range, and check-out, when it was unreachable. Drawbacks such as limitation of bluetooth range, auto-disable to save battery when phone was idle etc, didn't make it the most preferable choice.

Then I introduced the Jubito client Android app that had the capability to track my device's location, checking if I was within radius of 500m of the point I’ve set as home and do the appropriate actions as described earlier, more elegant and with more precision.
Far from perfect also. For instance, the app had to run in foreground, but besides that, Google changed the API and service eventually stop working.

The ping methodology came along, which share the same concept as the bluetooth, with some drawbacks too. Of course, it's very valuable in other kind of scenarios, but still, not good for my check-in/check-out expectations.

Lately, I found some time to study the new API and decide to modernize and upgrade the app. Along with its old functionality, now can run  as a service in background, even if the phone is locked. By far the most convenient way, especially when we don't want to be distracted by manual input on phone and be spared the extra effort.
It is a very nice feel, returning home, and this would be ready welcomes you by your preferences! Trust me on that!

Usage is straightforward. First you need to enable location from android settings. If not, and you have auto check-in/check-out checked, you will be prompted to. To take effect you need to kill the app from task manager and re-open it.
Next, from Jubito app settings, select your location by pressing the button "Get Location". On apply, selected address will be set as your home point.

Location services allow app to obtain periodic updates of the device's geographical location, and fire an application-specified event (check-in/check-out) when the device enters the proximity of a given geographical location. In our case, within 500m radius of the home location.

Before I close, let's recap what features app brings besides serving Jubito UI.
  • Speech Recognition & Synthesizer. It allows to execute Instruction Sets with speech dictation and speak the result if any.
  • Location & Geocoder. Reverse geocoding is the process of transforming a (latitude, longitude) coordinate into a (partial) address. That allows the app to get location data (lat/long) and reverse it to an address in order to be user friendly. By pressing the "Get Location" button you can set your home location automatically.

Closing this post with the setup of my preferences.
oncheckin, oncheckout events:

<event id="oncheckin">%unmute%; *socket-d-on; salute; judo schedule enable mailcheck</event>
<event id="oncheckout">init; judo sleep 30000; goodbye;  lights_off; judo schedule disable mailcheck; %mute%</event>

Let's take a deeper look on implementation.
All steps can be made from the UI, but in this particular article I'd like to go behind the scenes for robust understanding.

Check-in Steps
%unmute% & %mute% are also built-in functions that disable/enable the speech synthesis. *socket-d-on is a pointer to the InstructionSet that turn on an assistive light. In my case the living room right. You can also evaluate the light conditions before proceeding.

<InstructionSet id="*socket-d-on">judo serial send 000000000101010100010001</InstructionSet>
<InstructionSet id="socket-d-on" descr="Turns on living room light" shortdescr="Living room light on" header="Socket D on" categ="Automation">*socket-d-on</InstructionSet>

Salute is what it says and implements like this...

<InstructionSet id="salute">Good %salute% %user%.</InstructionSet>

%salute% function returns the part of day e.g. morning, afternoon. %user% returns the logged user. So, the above will return "Good afternoon john" and vocalized by speech-synthesis.
judo schedule enable mailcheck, enable the gmail check that is scheduled to check every 5 minutes.

Check-out Steps
init command, just speak Initiate sequence.

<InstructionSet id="init">Initiate sequence</InstructionSet>

judo sleep 30000, is a 30 seconds sleep timer, to allow me leave the place without triggering anything.

goodbye command, again a simple goodbye verbal message.

<InstructionSet id="goodbye">Good bye %user%.</InstructionSet>

lights_off command, turn off any assistive light.

<InstructionSet id="*socket-a-off">judo serial send 000000000100010101011111</InstructionSet>
<InstructionSet id="*socket-b-off">judo serial send 000000000101000101010100</InstructionSet>
<InstructionSet id="*socket-c-off">judo serial send 000000000101010001010100</InstructionSet>
<InstructionSet id="*socket-d-off">judo serial send 000000000101010100010100</InstructionSet>
<InstructionSet id="lights_off" descr="Turns off the bedroom and living room lights" shortdescr="Bedroom and living room lights off" header="Lights off" categ="Automation">*socket-a-off *socket-b-off *socket-c-off *socket-d-off</InstructionSet>

An old showcase video.

Finally, the last two are self-described. judo schedule disable mailcheck; %mute%, disable mail check and speech-synthesis.

Binaries (000000000100010101011111) in above example, control appliances and explained in this how-to.

A basic Wiki for judo API and built-in functions.

In action...

I plan to make more enhancements in future versions. For example, change the radius, add zones on specific ranges and do different tasks (at 10m open garage door), etc.

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