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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Next HOPE badge hacking primer - Hack a Day

Next HOPE badge hacking primer

posted Jun 22nd 2010 12:00pm by Mike Szczys
filed under: cons

[Travis Goodspeed] is taking a look at the attendee badges for this year’s Next HOPE conference. He’s given us a pretty good look at what is on the board, what it means to you, and how you can get at it. Of course the final hardware specs are a secret until conference time, but this will help you get some ideas and ensure that you bring the right add-on hardware. We normally try not to do too much quoting, but one of [Travis'] statements literally makes us laugh out loud (as opposed to what most people describe as lol):

“These badges are active RFID tags which beacon the position of each attendee a few times a second, so that the god damned devil army of lies–by which I mean the Next HOPE badge committee–can track each attendee around the Hotel Pennsylvania.”

No matter how you feel about the badge committee, the tradition of hacking conference badges is a fun, rewarding, and often frustration past-time. The badges are actually using the concept of OpenAMD. The last three letters stand for Attendee Meta Data which is an evolving concept. How can meta data about attendees be useful to all involved in a non-invasive way? How about associating yourself with a concept, like microcontroller programming. What if you could search to find out where other people interested in that are right now? Could be great… could end up in an impromptu meeting around the restrooms for no good reason. Either way, take a look at the teaser video covering the topic after the break.

Oh, one more note about the hardware. This year they’re moving away from PIC based badges to the more energy-efficient MSP430 line. It’s not one of the value-line processors that the Launchpad is meant for, but this bigger-brother ‘F’ chip will be no problem to work with if you’ve already spent some time with the ‘G’ series.

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See for a nice little video explaining the purpose of the project as a whole. Those who do not wish to broadcast their positions can remove batteries or reprogram them, but to be thorough, they should turn off their cellular phones as well.

A public HTTP API for querying the badge database is defined in the OpenAMD API Manual, and a server should be available for beta testing before the conference begins. For example, to find the location of user 31337, the client will fetch /api/location?user=31337 then look at the X, Y, and Location fields to determine the users position. As for this article, I will stick the badge hardware, its design, and all sorts of neighborly and malicious things that may be done with it or to it. Little mention will be made of the higher levels of the stack, as those are not my specialty.

Also, in order to keep things fun, I reserve the right to lie about any and all technical details of the badge, its operation, or its security mechanisms. This document by no means complete, and there are still plenty of secrets to find.

Badge Hardware, Usage

Read more... and see Videos...


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