Arduino Yún: A bridge between do-it-yourself and the Internet of Things
Maker Faire is more than just a cool place to go and hang out with several tens of thousands of like-minded geeks. It’s, as the event’s organizers say, “the greatest show and tell on earth.” Think of it as the largest high school science fair you’ve ever seen, where people are showing off the ideas and technologies they’re experimenting with at home and at work.
It’s the kind of place where you’ll hear about how a small Sebastopol winery is using low cost UAVs to change the way it buys grapes -- taking consumer technology and finding a new use that benefits a business. If that winery was to use commercially available aerial and satellite imagery, it would cost thousands of dollars each time it wanted to get a look at how the grapes in its contractors’ fields were growing. Instead, a few hundred dollars invested in a simple remote-controlled aerial camera platform lets them view grapes throughout the growing season and plan what should be harvested, and when. Simple filters applied to images can help analyze the data, using color to show what’s happening in the fields, without having to spend hours walking the rows.
That simple DIY drone is the sort of project that can be built using the open source Arduino platform. Built around a range of commonly available micro-controllers, Arduino and its many spin-offs are a bridge from the world of DIY electronics into the Internet of Things.
Where early Arduino platforms were basic programmable controllers that could be stacked with all kinds of multipurpose add-on boards (known as “shields”), the latest devices are designed to encourage experimentation – and include robots and came controller-like boards that can be fitted with LCD displays. Arduino’s easy-to-extend hardware design, and its extensive programming tools, make it an ideal platform for anyone who wants to go beyond programming into working with their own devices.
Need a tool for monitoring local environments, for counting components on a production line? Just build it with Arduino and hook it up to a PC or a Mac or an Android phone – or even a BB10 BlackBerry. There are libraries full of ready-to-run code, and books that guide you through building and deploying Arduino sensors (and kits that let you build them into mint tins…). The open source and education community that’s grown up around Arduino has worked hard to make the little controller boards a hub for innovation, and for education.
That said, there’s been one big hole in the platform: it’s been hard to connect standalone Arduino hardware to the Internet. You’ve been able to use networking shields to provide basic connectivity, but the tiny processors haven’t had the horsepower to run full blown web servers. If we’re to have a widely distributed Internet of Things, those things need to be able to interact with the rest of the Internet – using the protocols that have become the lingua franca of the web (and of the web-programming methodologies that are at the heart of the democratization of programming.
Connecting Arduino hardware to the Internet
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