Jumping on the Internet of Things Bandwagon, finally

Jun 30, 2014

About a year and a half ago a colleague introduced me to Arduino and Raspberry Pi.  But, knowing my own predilections, I resisted the urge to start checking them out at that time.

Well, I finally gave in a few weeks ago and validated my assumption – I was hooked!  With a background in industrial design and a career in technology, it was only a matter of time before I would start experimenting with software AND Internet-connected hardware.

What product and tech obsessed person wouldn’t be thrilled by the potential of connecting everything?  The Arduino and Pi platforms are common starting points for this generation’s inventors — those Internet of Things DIY Makers and hardware hobbyists.  For me, prototyping with an Arduino seemed closer to how real electronic products are architected, so I put off the Raspberry Pi for a later time.

I began by playing with the Arduino Starter Kit and tutorial sketches (the Arduino name for a computer program).  I admit to the inner glee that came from wiring up a breadboard, uploading some code and making LED lights blink in sequence – I had happy 80s flashbacks of K.I.T.T. and Cylons!

But, I was hungry for more, so quickly ordered a few add-on components and advanced “shields”.  What could I do with a camera, GPS, data storage, bluetooth and wifi?

While I felt a little dorky walking around my backyard with laptop in-hand connected via USB to an Arduino, mess of wires and a GPS shield, I located myself in the world with coordinates fed into Google Maps.  And, I eventually soldered up a proto-board and programmed a mini War-of-the-Worlds looking digital camera (saving a LOT of selfies in the process…).

Breadboard prototype version of Arduino Digital Camera

Pre-solder breadboard prototype of my Arduino-powered digital camera

Where to go from here?

I have lots of ideas for motion and light sensors, chaining up hardware units to Internet services such as IFTTT and, eventually, building a drone.

As I said, I’m hooked.  I’ll definitely have to make more time for my new hobby.