Femto-ize it! There’s no gender bias with the Femtoduino; it’s just a really small Arduino Leonardo clone.
Ho-hum, another clone you say? Not so. The Femtoduino packs on board Bluetooth (BLE), accelerometer, altimeter and a USB port into a 34.54 mm (1.36 inches) wide PCB. At USD $75.00 a pop, it’s obviously more than the price of an Arduino. Or any super-powered MPU, for that matter. But with this kind of form factor, there’s no excuse for big ugly prototypes.
With tiny Linux boards popping up like dandelions, it was only a matter of time before someone came out with a really tiny Linux board. This is it: a tiny board less than an inch on each side with an 802.11n System on Chip running OpenWrt on Linux. The best part? You can pick one up for $20 USD.
As wonderful a platform as the Beaglebone Black is, the board is a piker compared to the add-ons available for the Arduino. The Bone’s universe of capes is limited and pretty pricey.
A current device from an engineering team in Germany, though, caught our eye and opened our wallet on Indiegogo: a low-cost daughterboard that makes it possible to use nearly any Arduino shield on the Beaglebone Black. They promise shipping by May, so it should arrive in time to write about it in my upcoming book, A Beaglebone Black Cookbook: Seventy-Five Recipes for Making Things with a Microcomputer (Packt Publishing, pub. date Fall 2014).
Perhaps not quite as elegant as the Sony, and it may be trying to do too many things, but the Omate smartwatch looks pretty powerful and slick, nonetheless. Far more robust than the Pebble, its Android OS and Arm architecture position it as a promising player in the (getting very) crowded market.
Devices connected to the internet — everything from coffee makers to toys — are going to become a widespread consumer phenomenon sooner than you expect, even though Europeans and Americans for now regard the technology in different ways.
Until now, smart machines connected to the internet have largely been the province of industry and governments. In the view of two executives, however, such devices will soon become ubiquitous at a consumer level, and everything from coffee machines to toys will have at least a brief life on the internet.
According to Alicia Asin, the CEO of Libelium, which creates cloud-connected sensors, it is not just university researchers who are asking questions about the internet of things. Asin says that, thanks to the growth of inexpensive open hardware platforms and crowd-funding, a growing number of consumer companies are proposing compelling business cases to tap into the internet of things.
Asin, whose company’s devices measure everything from stress levels in koala bears to power plants, made the remarks at GigaOM’s Structure:Europe conference in London. She was joined by Michael Simon, CEO of LogMeIn, to discuss the business implications of more connected devices.
Simon said that, not long ago, his colleagues regarded his interest in the internet of things as a pet science fair project but that the technology has become table stakes in any serious manufacturing proposal related to appliances or energy. He adds that predictions of 60 billion connected devices worldwide by the end of the decade are not optimistic, but are likely too low.
Asin and Simon also reflected on different perceptions of the internet of things in Europe versus the United States.
Simon, pointing to the popular Nest thermostat, said that Americans are focused on the user experience — the beauty of the design and the ability to control it with an iPhone are the primary draws, with energy savings a third consideration. The opposite is true in Europe at the moment, where the internet of things discussions begin and end with energy efficiency. Simon believes, though, that the attitudes will soon converge.
Machine to Machine (M2M) networks — connected fridges and toasters, tires and TVs, walls and windows — are emerging on alternative, low-bandwidth frequencies. French startup SigFox fancies its strategy as better and cheaper (albeit slower) than the telco cell networks for creating the nextgen backbone for device and machine communication.