This post was originally published on Engineering@TelenorDigital.

In the past years I have been speaking at a variety of events, meetups and conferences, but for a JavaScript focused developer there’s only one mother of all conferences: Originally started in 2009, a time before node.js was released, and where jQuery was the hottest library; it has grown to be the de-facto conference for everyone in the JS world, with sister conferences all over the world. In 2014 I already had the wonderful opportunity to speak at JSConf EU (video) and JSConf.Asia (video), and this year I was invited to complete the trio and speak at the 2015 edition of in Amelia Island, Florida!

For me, conferences are not so much about the talks, but rather about the people you meet, and the conversations you have. It’s been great meeting so many inspiring people (and old friends) from the JS community in such a small area. JSConf felt also very focused on embracing this very aspect. The presentations were not planned back to back, but rather with a 15 minute pause between them, and there were round tables for the audience instead of a theater layout. This naturally makes people communicate with one another. Besides that the program offered plenty of time to hang out with your fellow attendees, either near the conference center, or at the pool or beach. It’s still a conference in Florida!


Another great aspect was that it was a three day conference with talks on day 1 and 3 (JSConf EU is also going to embrace this this year), leaving day 2 open for workshops; hacking; or exploring Amelia Island. As a nerd pur sang who lately started to enjoy hacking on hardware a perfect opportunity to start working on NodeRockets! Partnering up with fellow speaker Jacob Roufa we had the hardware part of our rocket up and running quickly, only to crash our rocket into pieces end of the day. We crashed it so hard that even the SD Card broke :-)

We had a camera mounted to the rocket making a video of the launch. Unfortunately it saved to the (now dead) SD card…

Luckily that night BitHound threw a party, so I didn’t have to think about the crashed rocket.

Great stuff I’ve seen

Let’s not forget that there were actual talks too! Here’s some of the great stuff I have seen in the past few days that is close to my own interest: bridging real life and JS. Catch them whenever the video is online!

  • (math == art && art == code), John Brown - I love generated art that is powered by code!
  • Knitting for JavaScripters, Mariko Kosaka - Interpreting knitting patterns as a DSL and then using it to program a knitting machine, oh yeah!
  • Building a musical instrument with the Web Audio API, Steve Kinney - Music is art, and as said, I love generated art powered by code!
  • Maintaining a local dev meetup, Jacob Roufa - How to get and keep people in your local meetups. The guy built a rocket with me, how can he not be in this list?!

To be honest, the overall talk quality was fantastic. Go watch all the videos when they’re out!

My talk

During my work in Telenor Digital I’m currently focused on Internet of Things as part of the Strategic Engineering team, and we’re thinking how to bridge the real world with IT. Given my constant need to create new and insane demo’s it was a logical choice as a talk subject. Hence the description:

JavaScript is everywhere, but too often it’s locked in computers and phones. We need to bridge the gap between the physical world and your computer… It’s time to alter the world around us with JavaScript! In previous JSConf talks Jan Jongboom ripped mainboards out of phones; abused sensors; and juggled devices, but this session is going to be harder, deeper, higher and more crazy! How about procedural music generated by the sensor data of all members of the audience? Using bluetooth beacons to find out if the person next to you is worth talking to? Hardware hacking your Firefox OS phone to add more sensors? Geofencing your newborn with a phone mainboard? And all of that… with JavaScript! Loaded with demo’s this talk will forever change the way you think about JavaScript in the real world. LET’S DO THIS!

For demo’s I settled on generating music with Gibber, a library to create algoraves, events where people dance on computer generated music. Instead of static code, the input parameters for the algorithm would come from phone sensors in the audience. Second, I’d use some BLE beacons and some triangulation magic (as you can see from my design notes math can be though). Then close it off with the introduction of Mozilla’s first wearable, a device that will forever augment your reality: Mozilla Glass (this is the UI).

Mozilla Glass. As Mozillian @naveedi said on Twitter: ‘Built from duct tape and dreams’.

Expectations were high, as I was the last speaker of the whole conference, and with track B already closed (I might also have made everyone very enthusiastic by jumping up and down during the party’s the nights before):

Although ambitious demo’s not always work out for the best (those damn beacons) both the audience and me had a great laugh and I think I’ve showed some amazing stuff that is possible with JavaScript today. Later that night I had some great conversations (and played ‘keep the beach ball in the air while in the pool counting how many touches in binary’) with other attendants, and very much looking forward to the presentation video. For now you’ll have to do with code and slides:

Altering the real world with JavaScript - JSConf.US 2015 from Jan Jongboom


FYI, if you’re near Munich, June 12 I’ll be speaking at DAHO.AM. There are still tickets available!