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The Pool by Jen Lewin: XBee Art at i Light Marina Bay Festival

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The Straits Times
Jen Lewin’s project The Pool, is stealing the show at this year’s i Light Marina Bay Festival. The festival aims to promote environmentally-responsible behavior and artists are incorporating recyclable materials and energy efficient lighting in their interactive art installations.

The Pool consists of over 100 interactive pads that emit colorful light and react to users’ movements. As participants move across the installation the pads send out colors and blend together to create a stunning visual display. Each pad has a simple set of rules that reacts to information being sent to and from sensors on every pad throughout the Pool. More than 100 XBee 802.15.4 radios send this information wirelessly from an Arduino in each pad that creates the colorful reactions. The project is monitored and updated remotely using a Digi ConnectPort X2e XBee gateway via Device Cloud.

The Pool was even featured on the front-page of The Straits Times, Singapore’s most widely read newspaper. Congrats Jen! The next stop for The Pool will be at Vivid Sydney May 23.

Check out Jen Lewin’s website to see more of her work.

XBee Controls Adam Savage’s Robugtix Spider

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A Hong Kong based company, Robugtix, makes bio-inspired multi-legged robots. That’s right, robotic, XBee-enabled, spiders. And, it just so happens that this eight legged robotic is a favorite of Adam Savage, host and famous maker on the show MythBusters. It was even featured on his YouTube series, Inside Adam Savage’s Cave.

The realistic (and slightly terrifying) arachnid is a 3D printed robot that is extremely lightweight and can very closely mimic the biological movements of a spider. It’s controlled wirelessly by joysticks on a remote control with XBee. The remote includes four joysticks for complete control of the robot, so you can do more than just move left/right and forward/back.

Enhancing Vehicle Telematics with Mobile Devices

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A common application of Internet of Things technology is vehicle telematics. Knowing how your fleet is functioning, where they are located, as well as drivers’ time spent on the road is all crucial for managing a successful fleet.

Quite often, the solutions necessary to monitor these data can be cumbersome, expensive, and take time to be implemented. And what if regulatory standards change?

To solve the problem of lengthy and costly implementations, Digi developed the Wireless Vehicle Bus Adapter, or WVA. It is simply plugged into the vehicles diagnostic port and reads out the data you need via a web services API. Simple solutions that tap into existing infrastructure like these have the ability to quickly turn data points into tangible value for businesses.

The ubiquity of high performance mobile devices is eliminating many of the barriers that can make the implementation of a sensor network difficult. The advancement of smart phones and tablets have simplified establishing these networks through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology. This eliminates the need to install cables and develop expensive and proprietary technology. Additionally, well designed user interfaces on mobile devices can create improved functionality and usability.

Learn more about the WVA here.

XBee Piano on Adafruit’s Show and Tell

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On this week’s installment of Adafrauit’s Show and Tell, Jianan shared his project he built for Duke University’s Hackathon. With a team of three other students, he created a giant piano that can be played with with user’s feet.

The build consists of large pads set on the ground that detect pressure and relay signals to the computer. Attached to the a computer is an Arduino Uno with an XBee. XBee relays the signal from the piano to the computer and firmware on the Arduino converts the raw data into a standard MIDI file. A software instrument within Logic Pro then reads this MIDI file and generates the sound.

There is also a remote control that can be used to adjust various parameters. The user can enter a ‘tutorial’ mode, which will show you how to play songs by illuminating LED lights on the correct keys. You can also adjust an attached potentiometer to select between 16 different instruments.

In the video below, you can watch a full demonstration of this giant piano.


Adafruit Industries hosts a weekly Show and Tell over Google Hangouts. This is a great resource to gather ideas for new projects. Add Adafruit to your circle to view their Hangouts.

Disneyland Creates New Experiences with Digi Technology

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Disney’s World of Color has always been a favorite among Disney Land attendees, and a recent update to the show has made it an even more unique and immersive experience. In 2012, Glow with the Show was introduced as a way to bring a new level of interaction between the show and audience.

Glow with the show is the result of thousands of audience members wearing hats that each contain LED lights in each of the hat’s ears. The hats are synched together to flash and change colors. The Disney Tech Crew is able to control the colors of the hat’s ears from one central location. From this spot, commands are broadcasted via infrared. Each hat contains an infrared sensor, which reads the signal and the LED lights respond accordingly.

The device that makes Glow with the Show possible is Digi’s System-on-Module, ConnectCore, which serves as a base station for the light show. Signals are sent to the ConnectCore via Ethernet and the module broadcasts the infrared signal out to the hats. The effect of thousands of hats synched together creates an ocean of color that washes over the audience and creates exciting special effects.

The hats have also been a part of Cars Land, Mad T Party, Fantasmic, and even the nightly firework display Magical. As you walk through different areas of Cars Land, the hats will change in response to the environment. Future plans are  to incorporate Glow with the Show with more areas within Disney parks. Glow with the Show hats are bringing Disney fans closer to their favorite characters and audiences are becoming a part of the show.

We often hear of M2M technology being a solution for business inefficiencies, but here we see it can be also used to create unique and immersive experiences.  Wireless connected devices can be used to create exciting experiences, by making it easier to integrate into our lives and providing a higher level of interaction.

Digital Designs Come to Life with 3D Printing

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Who would have thought that printing could be so innovative? We, along with many others, are excited that 3D printing is becoming more main stream, being used for more projects and becoming more accessible. Here are some basics on what 3D printing is and how it’s bringing digital designs to life.

So, what exactly is 3D printing?

Here’s how Wikipedia defines 3D printing: “Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using additive processes, where an object is created by laying down successive layers of material.”

Looking to get started?

Here’s a great list of 3D Designs for XBee on Thingiverse. Thingiverse is a website by MakerBot that features digital designs for the physical objects. It was created as a destination to get and share downloadable 3D Thing designs.

XBee Protector Box on Thingiverse

“Thingiverse is the go-to place to find out how to make any physical thing. Since 2008, Things on Thingiverse have been downloaded more than 8.5 million times, and as of November 1, 2012, there are more than 25,000 digital Things just waiting for you to download and make.”

At the O’Reilly Strata Conference for the Data Sensing Lab, we used the Printrbot Jr to create boxes to hold equipment for the wireless sensor mote enclosures that were places around the conference (almost 50 of them). It took about 30-40 minutes to print each box. You can see Brian Jepson‘s instructions and information about the enclosure on Thingiverse here.

Strata Conference Sensor Mote Enclosure

To learn more and keep up with 3D printing innovations you can follow Thingiverse, Makerbot, Printrbot and Shapeways on Twitter. Have you made something great with a 3D printer? Want us to share? Let us know in the comments section below or on Twitter.

Monitor Hurricanes With a DIY Auto-Tweeting Weather Station via Wired

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Image: Juan Peña/Sparkfun

With Hurricane Sandy roaring towards the East Coast, the world is again turning to Twitter to get instant, personal weather reports and photos directly from those affected by the storm. The ability of Twitter to spread pinpoint, as-it-happens information is the exact reason it shines so bright in the face of natural disasters (and civil strife). But for those directly experiencing the hurricane’s dangerous conditions, mindfully tweeting weather updates can quickly become a secondary concern at best.

With the accessibility of easily configurable, low-energy-consuming technology, we can mitigate part of that problem by building a not-too-tricky, self-tweeting weather station. It’s probably too late to put one together for Hurricane Sandy, but for upcoming weather situations it’s a good way to help keep people informed with data and details.

One of the easiest approaches to the project involves setting up an Arduino-controlled weather monitoring system. The easily programmed, modular ability of the Arduino platform allows for a variety of add-on sensors to be utilized, including temperature, humidity and barometric pressure. These sensors can be found pre-built onto one Arduino board, as is the case with SparkFun’s USB Weather Board, which adds the capability for its data to be recorded or shared via its USB output, or wirelessly with an optional Xbee or Bluetooth module.

Sparkfun Weather Board Image: Juan Peña/Sparkfun

Read the Full Article on Wired


Where Will The Internet Of Things Take Service Design?

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On Tuesday, October 9th, Fjord presented the “Where Will The Internet Of Things Take Service Design” event in New York, co-hosted with IxDA. The evening brought together a packed house of guests ready to explore how the Internet of Things will influence and shape important areas for service design like the future of content, retail, payments and health.

Moderated by Fast Company’s Cliff Kuang, the panelists included:

Steven Dean, Partner, Prehype. Adjunct Faculty, ITP.
Rob Faludi, Collaborative Strategy Leader, R&D, Digi International. Professor, ITP/SVA.
Scher Foord, Executive Director, Design, Condé Nast Technology.
Tim Queenan, Director of Strategy, Google Creative Lab.
Rachel Ramoni, Executive Director, SMART, Harvard Medical School.
Jacob Styburski, VP Customer Experience, Enterprise Growth, American Express.

Some of the highlights and key themes of the evening:

  • The Internet of Things is here, and will become more ubiquitous and invisible.
  • Good service design will continue to humanize the technology and the data around us, making its complexity disappear into the background.
  • Given that, our panelists agreed that it’s high time to kill the term “Internet of Things.” What’s important is to create an “Internet of Things People Want,” that should eventually evolve into the “Internet of Things People Expect.”
  • To make this a reality, designers must create a shared language that allows for collaboration across the companies, industries, and individuals creating the services of tomorrow.

You can find more details and photos of the event here. Have a question or comment about how the Internet of Things and service design? Let us know in the comments section below or on Twitter, we’d love to hear what you think.

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