Tag Archives: IoT

Help Google develop tools for Raspberry Pi

via Raspberry Pi

Google is going to arrive in style in 2017. The tech titan has exciting plans for the Raspberry Pi community, with a range of AI and machine learning services ready to roll.

A robot built at one of our Picademy@Google sessions

To make this happen, Google needs help from the Raspberry Pi community. Raspberry Pi fans are the best makers around, and it’s their ideas that will give the tech company direction.

Here’s what they have to say:

Hi, makers! Thank you for taking the time to take our survey. We at Google are interested in creating smart tools for makers, and want to hear from you about what would be most helpful.  As a thank you, we will share our findings with the community so that you can learn more about makers around the world.

The company can produce some serious tools for the maker community, so make sure you have your say to get the tools you need.

Let Google know what you would like by clicking here and filling out the survey.

What Google has to offer

Makers at PiCademy at Google

Makers at Picademy at Google

Google has developed a huge range of tools for machine learning, IoT, wearables, robotics, and home automation.

From face- and emotion-recognition and speech-to-text translation, to natural language processing and sentiment analysis, the firm has developed a lot of technology in the fields of machine learning and AI.

The tech giant also provides powerful technology for navigation, bots, and predictive analytics.

The survey will help them get a feel for the Raspberry Pi community, but it’ll also help us get the kinds of services we need. So, please take five minutes out of your day and let them know what you would like by filling out this survey.

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Solving IoT Problems with Node.js for Hardware

via hardware – Hackaday

Tod Kurt knows a thing or two about IoT devices. As the creator of blink(1), he’s shipped over 30,000 units that are now out in the wild and in use for custom signaling on everything from compile status to those emotionally important social media indicators. His talk at the 2016 Hackaday SuperConference covers the last mile that bridges your Internet of Things devices with its intended use. This is where IoT actually happens, and of course where it usually goes astray.

I think this device is a good reference for thinking conceptually about Internet of Things. It’s dead-simple hardware: a thumbnail-sized PCB with a USB connector hosts two WS2812 RGB LEDs and a microcontroller. The enclosure is a little metal frame with a plastic diffuser that completes the look. You need to give it connectivity (and power) through the USB connection for it to work.

Does this qualify as IoT? Absolutely. Think of IoT as anything that brings data into the real world (or vice versa). LEDs have been on face plates of computers forever, but since the day that panel-programmed machines were put to rest, those LEDs have rarely ever conveyed meaningful data. Blink(1) can be set up through just about any API you can imagine to tell you something meaningful at a glance and at a distance. But that “last mile” is where the magic actually happens.

Cost and Complexity

Users need a way to interact with connected devices. But without a sizeable screen and multiple inputs that is a daunting task. Also, these devices often lack some important stuff like encryption (think SSL) and the ability to know when a device needs to be upgraded, plus an easy mechanism to do so. Tod contends that for a large swath of use cases, the best thing you can do is to make the device a computer peripheral.

This is most obviously done in the case of USB devices. The computer is the gatekeeper of that USB port and provides a direct and easy connection for software access to it. This can be true of wireless devices as well, but your best bet on that front is devices that are LAN only and depend on another gatekeeper to regulate access to them.

Lacking One OS to Rule Them, Tod Looks to Node

Tod heralds the many benefits of including a computer in the deal. You get a robust and continuously modern way for the user to interact using a GUI. And these central devices come with heavy lifting capabilities, like the option to handle encryption and orchestrate firmware upgrades when necessary. You will even have a mechanism to alert users when an upgrade is necessary.

This is no small thing. We are in the pit of despair with botnets right now because of early devices that didn’t think deeply about security and upgrades. Households that include devices in these botnets are completely unaware that their device is up to no good, and even if we found every device that has been pwned there’s no way to notify the owners. But I digress.

Of the myriad options to explore for cross-platform apps, Tod is preaching for Electron, a browser-based framework that uses Node.js for your every whim. This last part isn’t hyperbole. One of the chief benefits of Node.js is the extremely widespread adoption that means if you can think of a use, a library probably already exists. There are numerous examples of support for common hardware (from ESP8266 to Sphero BB-8 toy robots). Even if your programming chops can’t keep up with the new hotness there are tools like Node-RED which help you stomp out complexity with a graphic programming flow.

Think Security, Think User, Then Think Product

This is not a sales pitch for Blink(1) — although you find it in the Hackaday store — but a proven example of the way we need to be thinking about building up the Internet of Things. The default has been to build it and think about everything else if it turns out someone wants to buy it. We’re eating our humble pie for the hubris of early designers. Only a paradigm shift in thinking about these issues early will make future IoT devices secure, but also deliver on the promise that has so far failed to materialize. We’ve been told that IoT will be awesome, fixing the last mile will let you deliver on that by making users love what you build.

Filed under: cons, hardware

Internet of Things Pregnancy Test

via Raspberry Pi

“The project idea came from this tongue-in-cheek Twitter post. But hey, why not try to make one? I read somewhere that the world needs more ridiculous smart devices”. These are the words of Eric Tsai, a maker of connected devices and home automation, on his website etsai.net. And while this website boasts many interesting and useful projects (plus a watermelon sea monster), it was his tongue-in-cheek ‘Too Much IoT’ project on hackster.io that had us chuckling. The aforementioned Twitter post?

Eric Tsai on Twitter

IoT pregnancy test: connects to phone via BLE, instantly tweets test results. Also text msg result to contacts name “mom”.

Eric did indeed create an IoT pregnancy test: it’s a Bluetooth-enabled digital pregnancy test that sends data to a Raspberry Pi which, in turn, sends a tweet of the result (as well as a special text message to your Mum).

To start his project, Eric turned to an unsuspecting customer service representative, quizzing her on the composition of a digital pregnancy test:

Does your test have an ON button? What kind of battery does it use? Do the different characters on the LCD overlap, or are they separated? Well, I mean, is “Pregnant” the same as “Not Pregnant”, but just without the “Not”? You need a serial number? No, I don’t have a serial number, I haven’t purchased it yet. Oh, well… I like to be prepared.

And after that, a search of YouTube provided the information he needed in order to hack the test.

IoT Pregnancy Test

After working his way through the internals of the test, the LCD pins, and the energy consumption, Eric was able to hijack the correct components and solder new wiring to gain control of the ‘not’ and ‘pregnant’ portions of the display, along with the clock function and, obviously, the ground.

IoT Pregnancy Test

Eric added header pins to the test, allowing him to connect a Light Blue Bean, which in turn provided Bluetooth and I/O functionality. He explains:

The Light Blue Bean provides the real world I/O and Bluetooth connectivity. The digital I/O monitors the “Not” and “Pregnant” pins on the LCD and compares them to the “clock”. When they don’t match, it means the corresponding icon is being displayed.

The Raspberry Pi runs Node-RED to receive data from the Bean. Using Twilio, the Pi can tweet, text, or email the information to any predetermined recipient, advising them of the test results.

IoT Pregnancy Test

As a home automation pro, Eric already had several lights in his house set up via MQTT and OpenHAB, so it wasn’t hard for him to incorporate them into the project, triggering them to light up to indicate a positive result.

Though the project was originally started as a joke, it’s clear to see that Eric enjoyed the process and learnt from the experience. And if that wasn’t enough, he also used the hackster.io project page as a means of announcing the news of his own impending bundle of joy. So congratulations to Eric and his family, and thank you for this brilliant project!

Too Much IoT on Twitter

Pregnant! Yay!

Connected Pregnancy Test – Long Version

A pregnancy test that tweets and text messages test results. https://www.hackster.io/projects/15076/



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element14 Pi IoT Smarter Spaces Design Challenge

via Raspberry Pi

Earlier this year I was asked to be a judge for the Element 14 Pi IoT Smarter Spaces Design Challenge. It has been fantastic to be involved in a process where so many brilliant ideas were developed.

The purpose of the competition was to get designers to use a kit of components that included Raspberry Pi, various accessories, and Enocean products, to take control of the spaces they are in. Spaces could be at home, at work, outdoors, or any other space the designer could think of.

Graphic showing a figure reflected in a mirror as they select breakfast from a menu displayed on its touchscreen surface

Each entrant provided an initial outline of what they wanted to achieve, after which they were given three months to design, build and implement their system. All the designers have detailed their work fantastically on the element14 website, and if you’re looking for inspiration for your next project I would recommend you read through the entries to this challenge. It has been excellent to see such a great breadth of projects undertaken, all of which had a unique perspective on what “space” was and how it needed to be controlled.

3rd place

Gerrit Polder developed his Plant Health Camera. Gerrit’s project was fantastic, combining regular and NoIR Raspberry Pi camera modules with some very interesting software to monitor plant health in real time.

Pi IoT Plant Health Camera Summary

Element14 Pi IoT challenge Plant Health Camera Summary. For info about this project, visit: https://www.element14.com/community/community/design-challenges/pi-iot/blog/2016/08/29/pi-iot-plant-health-camera-11-summary

2nd place

Robin Eggenkamp created a system called Thuis – that’s Danish for “at home”, and is pronounced “thoosh”! Robin presented a comprehensive smart home system that connects to a variety of sensors and features in his home, including a keyless door lock and remote lighting control, and incorporates mood lighting and a home cinema system. He also produced some great video of the system in action.

Thuis app demo

Final demo of the Thuis app

1st place

Overall winner Frederick Vandenbosch constructed his Pi IoT Alarm Clock. Frederick produced a truly impressive set of devices which look fantastic and enable a raft of smart home technologies. The devices used in the system range from IP cameras, to energy monitors that can be dotted around the home, to a small bespoke unit that keeps track of house keys. These are controlled from well designed hubs: an interactive one that includes a display and keypad, as well as the voice-activated alarm clock. The whole system comes together to provide a truly smart space, and I’d recommend reading Frederick’s blog to find out more.

My entry for element14’s PiIoT Design Challenge

This is my demonstration video for element14’s Pi IoT Design Challenge, sponsored by Duratool and EnOcean, in association with Raspberry Pi. Have feedback on this project? Ideas for another? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks to each and every designer in this competition and to all the people in the element14 community who have helped make this a great competition to be part of. If you’re interested in taking part in a future design challenge run by element14, they are run regularly with some great topics – the prizes aren’t bad, either.

I urge everyone to keep on designing, building, experimenting and creating!

Pi IoT Smarter Spaces Design Challenges Winners Announcement

No Description


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An interactive ball for your dog’s remote entertainment

via Arduino Blog

Recently presented at Disrupt SF Hackathon 2016, this modified hamster ball rolls and dispenses treats while you’re away!

Creators Anthony Alayo, James Xu, and Lawrence Chang don’t like the idea of leaving doggies alone all day to fend for themselves. Although these companions will generally wait for their owners to get home, this surely gets boring. To help solve this problem, they built the DogeBall–a hamster ball equipped with advanced electronics including what looks to be an Arduino MKR1000. This allows it to roll around under remote control via an accompanying app, and can even give your pooch a treat, perhaps as a reward for not chewing up your shoes!

Say you’re at work and your dog has been alone for a while. If you have a nest cam or other home cameras setup, playing with him/her is easy. The app we created acts as a remote controller, connecting to the ball over the internet. Shoot your dog a treat, hit the speak button to talk with him, or control the ball as if you were right there beside him/her.

Sound like something you might want for your pup? You can check out the team’s Devpost article or TechCrunch’s writeup on this excellent project!

(Photos: Devpost)

Identifying The Hallway Whistler

via Raspberry Pi

Becky Stern suffers from that same condition that many of us apartment dwellers are affected by: a curiosity about who is making noise outside the door.

Living within a large New York City apartment, Becky wanted to be able to see out of her peep hole without having to leave her desk. After all, the constant comings and goings of any shared property, though expected, can often be distracting.

(And seriously, whoever keeps slamming their door in my apartment block at 4am WILL suffer my wrath!)

So she decided to use a motion detector to trigger a Pi camera at her door. The camera would then stream live video back to a monitor within her apartment: a wireless peep hole, allowing her the freedom to be productive without having her eye to the door.

Peep Hole Cam

Becky used a Pi Zero for the project and took to the internet to educate herself on how to code a live streaming camera with motion detection. Tony D’s Cloud Cam tutorial gave her everything she needed to get the project working… and a handful of magnets, plus an old makeup bag, finished of the job.

Pi Zero Peep Hole Camera

Tutorial: http://www.instructables.com/id/Pi-Zero-Peep-Hole-Camera/ Subscribe for new videos Mondays and Thursdays! http://www.youtube.com/user/bekathwia previous video: https://youtu.be/p7uUcNFfP3Q tech playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLxW5bBHPfdBzmynozxfEPv2DJgyoFiqgn this time last year: https://youtu.be/kZmyXzzXqfc Connect with Becky: http://www.instructables.com/member/bekathwia https://twitter.com/bekathwia http://instagram.com/bekathwia http://bekathwia.tumblr.com/ http://www.pinterest.com/bekathwia/ https://www.snapchat.com/add/bekathwia tip jar: https://www.patreon.com/beckystern Music is “Marxist Arrow” from the YouTube Music Library

Along with live streaming, the camera could be set up to take and upload photos and video to a cloud server; a handy tool to aid in home security. Taking the project further afield, she could allow remote access to the camera, allowing her to view the hallway while away from home. Did the delivery man leave your expected package? Which of the neighbours kids is the one trailing mud across the carpet?

And seriously… who keeps whistling every time they come home?!

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