Haupz Blog

... still a totally disordered mix


2023-01-22 — Michael Haupt

Gadgets are fun, and even more so when they can make someone’s day.

Back at my previous job, one of my teams (named R2D2) had been working on a long and hairy project. Essentially, it was a complete rewrite of the core piece of Babbel’s language learning experience, the so-called “lesson player”. The project had started well before I joined (that was in August 2020), and was technologically involved. It took the team quite some time to deliver, and the "Universal Lesson Player" has gone live across web, iOS, and Android.

Before leaving, I really wanted to celebrate and acknowledge the success so far by giving a little token of appreciation to everyone who had contributed. It being me, that needed to be appropriately nerdy. I came across a device named Badger 2040: a Raspberry Pi Pico powered little thing with an e-ink display that’s programmed in MicroPython and can be configured as a name tag. Of course this was the right thing.

So I got some 35 of those, and went on a fun ride to prepare all of them until they looked like this (for the technically interested, there’s also a photo of the back):

It’s e-ink, so the display just stays like that. But if a user so desires, they can connect a battery pack and augment the code on the device to, for instance, react to pushing one of the buttons by displaying a QR code with contact information instead of an image. After all, it’s a programmable computer right there, and it even has a variant of the Raspberry Pi’s infamous GPIO capabilities. The possibilities are “endless” once one knows a little Python.

I was able to hand over most of the Badgers at a little release party, and needless to say, people loved it.

Tags: work, the-nerdy-bit