In this installment of “What Can I Blow My Cash On Today Using Only the Internet”, I humbly submit to you the offerings of the one and only Arduino Company, makers of the Arduino and Genuino line of wildly successful maker boards. The mad scientists at that now famous lab have knocked it out of the park with their latest. They’ve concocted a way for you and I to easily start slapping components together to make an IoT gizmo of our very own with little or no previous experience in software or hardware—kinda like Lego, but with more Buzz! and with Humidity Readings! The way they’ve envisioned to do this is to break key functions of a device into easily connectible modules which then allow you to arrange them as you see fit to achieve an end device. So, slap a couple of modules together clickety-clack and BAM! you’re talking to space aliens! (Note: ability to talk to space aliens may vary). They’re calling the project ESLOV (for the life of me I can’t find what this stands for, but there you have it).
Their project over at Kickstarter explains it thusly: “ESLOV is a system of intelligent modules that you can connect in endless ways. You can create new devices, prototypes, science experiments in seconds. No programming or hardware knowledge is required.”
The process to make a device is super simple. You connect the roughly stamp-sized modules together via a small jumper, then plug them into a computer via USB. The freely downloadable software (open source FTW!) then recognizes the modules and allows you to visually draw connections between them to establish their relationships in software space. Once this is done, you can fully configure the modules to do what you need them to do when you need them to do it. And once the modules are then plugged into a small WiFi hub, you can connect your new device to the internet. Lastly, and perhaps the most cool part is, you then publish the project on the Arduino Cloud and you can now access your device from anywhere there’s an internet connection, including your phone. It’s that awesome!
There are currently 25 modules to choose from ranging from RGB LED’s, buzzers and motion sensors, to potentiometers to humidity and temperature sensors and even GPS. And since this is Arduino we’re talking about, if you have the chops, you can hack and solder your own module and slap that baby on there, too (anyone up for an Alien Chat module?).
And of course this is all open source and runs on the GNU/Linux. A great great added reason to back them.
Now, the downside is the backer levels in my opinion are a bit steep. The entry backer level is $99 which gives you a WiFi hub and RGB LED, buzzer, and button modules (there is a $56 level, but it’s just a WiFi hub with a motion sensor “on board,” so, not so much bang for the buck.) Honestly, that’s not a whole lot for $99, considering a brand new Arduino is around $30. The next backer level at $180 gives you a WiFi hub plus eight other modules. I understand that they need to get production lines in order and get some idea of demand, as well as hire devs out there to code the software, but if successful I foresee prices coming down a bit. I’m also guessing that once this hits public production space modules will be sold separately so you can pick and choose what you need for your project instead of buying bundles where you’ll most likely leave several of the modules gathering dust in a drawer somewhere.
The project is seeking a hefty $495k to get off the ground. It’s not a flexible campaign, so it’s all or nothing. As of this writing, they’re currently at 64k with 23 days to go. If you’re at all as excited by this as I am and have some wadded bills to throw at them, head over to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/iot-invention-kit/eslov-iot-invention-kit?ref=discovery and show them your green love and support.
As always, if you want to get a hold of me, toss some digital bits my way at my twitter account or email me as listed below.
The Linux Crowd
About this column: The Linux Crowd attempts to locate interesting crowdfunded projects and bring them to your attention, the GNU/Linux enthusiast. These projects are curated from the usual crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter.com, Indiegogo.com, and Crowdsupply.org., in order to find those that look particularly noteworthy, but ones specifically that use GNU/Linux as a major component. Some of these projects are ongoing and could use your support, while others might have finished (successfully) in which case you can still contribute to purchase an item. If you have any comments or questions hit me up at: FreedomPenguinBrad@gmail.com