At Spotlight Android FITC on Saturday brought together some of the best local minds in the city about Android to inform and educate developers on concepts and tactics they can use in their everyday jobs. Pearl Chen of Karma Laboratory or @androidsnsheep on twitter came by to talk about how to use some Arduino with your Android device.
Arduino is as open source electronics hardware platform that is great for rapid prototyping and is primarily for artists, designers, hackers and anyone interested in creating interactive objects. Her talk at Spotlight Android was unique because it focused on not just software development but also on hardware and experimentation.
With these types of technologies becoming more widespread and cost-effective they are starting to converge. Using unique software, innovative hardware, and online access Pearl believes that the factory of the future will be for mass customization instead of products that are all the same. She calls this the third industrial revolution that we are still just at the beginning of.
Part of that process is experimentation and when you think of Android, you think of the little green robot and the deserts that give Android its different flavours. Pearl brought an action-figure sized one to Spotlight Android and using an Arduino micro controller, a few motors and some lights was able to make her Android move and light up just by using her Android phone.
Pearl’s demo with the Android action-figure turned robot and Arduino showed how easy it was to get started. She used an Arduino, an Android app and some coding to make her robot move. Arduino is just one of many open source hardware platforms available, with others that have Android Development Kits being SparkFun IOIO, ODroid ADK, and Microchip PIC24F ADK.
Pearl is a big advocate of the open source community because of the flexibility it allows when compared to walled garden of Apple’s iOS which has more costs associated with it than Android. Open Source software and hardware gives developers the flexibility they need to experiment that’s limited in very controlled platforms like iOS.
The strength of open source API’s is the ability to customize it to your heart’s content and that knowledge is brought back into the community itself which doesn’t happen in a closed ecosystem. Android gives you access to the technologies available on your phone already like the accelerometer, GPS, storage, touch screen, camera, Wi-Fi/3G, temperature sensor, NFC and microphone and the ability to add more sensors and hardware depending on your needs.
I didn’t really understand the coding parts of Pearl’s demo but I was impressed with how simple it seemed and it makes you feel like that type of experimentation is within reach to even those non technically inclined.
Pearl mentioned examples of projects people are already like NASA did with Android in Space where they took a Nexus S and made the phone the brains of a robot in the ISS that could be controlled through the Wi-Fi signal from the ground.
Another project done by the University of California, Berkeley called The Floating Sensor Project. They deployed a fleet of 100 mobile sensors to gather real-time data about the river using a smartphone with a custom-built Android app. The sensor gathers information in real-time and sends it back every few seconds.
As soon as Spotlight Toronto was done Pearl held a peanut butter and jelly hackathon focused on helping people get acquainted with near field communications in person (but not the payment side of things). To Pearl Near Field Communications (NFC) offers an opportunity for simple interactions with people. NFC is a subset of RFID technology but uses low-frequency radio waves which can travel farther distances whereas NFC works only within a few centimeters.
The main benefit of NFC is that it can read as well as write. You can get NFC stickers to augment physical objects and it is great for low friction interactions. These interaction opportunities will only increase as more devices come equipped with NFC. NFC can help make apps feel more tangible, and NFC could be platform agnostic as more platforms integrate the technology.
It was great to see Pearl at Spotlight Android because of her hardware experience because it shows how flexible Android is because of its open source roots. The fact that you can use it with Arduino or NFC to make new interactions with people, objects and devices is a future that can’t come fast enough for me and many of the people who were at Spotlight Android.
This is from Burning Man the 2011 edition and the message they ascribe to are something we can all use at times. Thanks to Ryan Coelho for showing it to us as we take the next steps to play our game, the game on leadership that is. It was awesome, a bit weird, and inspiring.
There isn’t much I can add to this video except that:
Confronting your fear needs a recipe to make you better for the dinner to be that will make you better
It just takes a loaf of courage, a dash of risk, 2 tea spoons of hope added to the dish.
Make sure to keep the heat of negativity down, by adding some positive action to the mound.
Mix them together and what you will receive a dish to have when you are most in need.
From the video description:
Based on Dr. Seuss’s final book before his death, this is a story about life’s ups and downs, told by the people of Burning Man 2011.
So here is the quote from the video itself:
A tablet that’s a unique expression of entertainment and creativity.
A tablet that works and plays the way you want.
A new type of computing. Surface.
I love how Microsoft is getting into the hardware game with Surface. They are taking their own unique approach to tablets but I do question the completely different platforms for the Surface RT version and the Pro. My problem with going with an Apple style announcement is that Surface was only half-baked. It still needs some time before it is good and done.
The keyboard covers are non-functional, the specs of both are unknown except that the consumer version will run on ARM and the Pro version on Intel. They revealed no pricing information, tech journalists could only experience specific demos but the video was rad. My only criticism is I wish they had done this closer to launch when all the details were set in stone.
The way they did it now means that a lot of the surprise will be over when they do get into the details of then when will it come out and how much will it cost. They have the surprise part down, now just make sure the stars line up.
The Microsoft Surface has a built-in kick stand, has a cover that is a keyboard, the case is made out of something called VaporMg. It is created by moulding metal and depositing particles that create a finish closer to a luxury watch, made of magnesium, it can be as thin as .65 mm which is thinner than a credit card. From all the hands on reports the case gave no flex which is great. Combine that with Gorilla Glass 2 protecting the screen and you come out with a tough soldier of a tablet.
So twitter was down for an hour or so and my ability to randomly communicate was given a reprieve. It is so hard to think that twitter has only been around for just a few years and for me it has replaced texting and is in some ways the only way I communicate with some people. It is one of the social media pillars that is second only to Facebook and YouTube and I have come to rely on it a lot just to connect with people and find out what is going on.
Thank God it is back, it is amazing to think how distilling communication into 140 characters has become such a powerful tool for everyone to communicate with each other. I think the simplicity of the system and that it can work on anything with a screen is what has made it so influential. That and the ability for apps to be created around it has created a developer community who are using it in unique ways which has magnified the power the platform has had for all of us to connect.
I was kind of sad I didn’t see the fail whale, haven’t seen him or her I don’t know which in a while. If the bird has a name why not the whale? Thank God your back twitter, I remember back in the old days when you were down regularly, please don’t do it again.
So yesterday I went to the Timeflies Tuesday YouTube channel and watched their latest rap and I checked the link and was it went to a letter that said they were taking a break from their Tuesday raps. I think they need a break after going more than a year with creating a video every week while also touring and releasing their own music.
Don’t think they are just going to be taking in the sun, they will be hard at work on another original EP, they have a mix tape coming up soon. They will still give all of us Timefilies Tuesday followers a little something to wet the appetite and that is something I will look forward to seeing.
I was always so impressed with Cal’s freestyle skill, Rez is an amazing beat master, him and the metal drum was full of win. I’ve followed them since October of last year and can’t wait to see them blow up. They are representatives of the new model in music, going ground up and grass roots to get traction and that doesn’t just apply to music but more and more to any creative endeavour.
The Internet was the spark, the people the fuel and in the future mobile will be the air that spreads the power that the Internet has given all of us farther than ever. Good Day Timeflies and can’t wait to see the beats that come from both of you next. So I watched Cal actually sing “A Time of Your Life” I think it is time to step it up myself and not be afraid to fall but be afraid to miss a chance to matter, to make a difference. What Timeflies has done was an inspiration let’s go.
One more time just as we enter the longest day, the hottest of days, and an unreal amount of eye candy.
Can’t wait for you to come back and take it to’em soon.