We all encounter a range of everyday problems in our lives, both large and small. At Wunderdog we’re no different, but we do have the advantage of being excellent problem solvers with some pretty advanced technical skills — helping us to find innovative answers to some of life’s tricky problems. In this blog series, we introduce the solutions our employees crafted as part of our open-source program.
A chilly problem
Finnish winters are cold, and I commute by tram — and even though Helsinki’s public transport is pretty punctual, I am not. This often leads to me seeing the rear lights of the tram disappearing over the horizon while I freeze my toes off waiting for the next one. One day I decided that I’d suffered for long enough; there had to be a way that this could be avoided.
The first ideas I came up with were:
digging a tunnel to avoid the freezing air
developing a system that would stop the tram and make it wait until I was on it
Great ideas, right? But unfortunately, impossible — and probably illegal too.
A just-in-time solution
Being a pretty nerdy guy, I buy all kinds of gadgets even if I don’t know what I’ll use them for, so I happened to have a spare Raspberry Pi lying around with an 8” display. As a software developer, I know how to make computers beep, and I also knew that Helsinki provides an open API for the public transport system, which lets you track tram movements and schedules in real-time.
So I gathered together the Raspberry Pi and all my programming and design knowledge and after a couple of late nights I ended up with this:
Here’s how it works: there are two trams I can catch to work, the number 7 and the number 9. The tram numbers are on either side of the screen, with the one that’s coming next lit. In the middle is the time in minutes until I need to leave the house in order to catch the tram. Above that is the air temperature so I know what to wear, and at the bottom is the actual time.
The accuracy is perfect: I can often just walk straight onto the tram as it usually arrives at the stop at the same time I do. I’ve got to say, my commutes are pretty smooth these days! Check out the code behind all this.
This solution was crafted by Viljami, a senior software developer at Wunderdog.
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