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IoT & Wearable Platform Notes

Here are a few notes about interesting dev boards I have used for "Internet of Things (IoT)" projects.

The ESP8266

The ESP8266 was developed as a wifi board, but its integrated micro controller makes it an interesting platform for lots of uses. By adding the Arduino Core you can program it using the Arduino environment. I have used ESP8266 on a number of projects successfully. It is a bit power hungry because of the wifi, but it has support for sleep mode between sensor readings and broadcasts that can prolong battery life. If the IoT device is connected to power then this is an easy choice, as it is so low cost, and wifi makes it easy to push data to a server.

Two nice boards are:

Additional Notes:

  • The ESP32 will be out soon, and offers more memory and also BLE which will be a very cool feature if you want a low cost device that supports WiFi and BLE. The Intel Edison below include both WiFi and BLE radios but is rather expensive. The Blend Micro below is fairly low cost, but only includes a BLE radio.
  • I have a few notes in this ESP8266 Setup Post

ReadBear Blend Micro

Readbear specializes in BLE dev boards for Arduino. The Blend Micro board combines BLE and Arduino into a single 3.3V board about the length and width of a AAA battery. This board is also Codebender compatible so it is great for use in school environments. One interesting use is to use the robotatic's ANCS Library to receive ANCS messages from an iPhone and perform some interesting action using a combination of sounds. LED's, or a small LCD display wired to the Blend Micro depending on the alert type.

Rasberry Pi Zero

The Pi Zerois is an exciting 5W platform for building devices. The big plus is it has Mini HDMI and USB On-The-Go ports so provides some interesting possibilities for use as an IoT hub in the home. It does not come with Wifi or BLE however, so these add additional costs.

The Intel Edison

The Intel Edison is basically a tiny linux computer. It is great for low power as it uses only 1.8V and includes both wifi and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Memory can easily be expanded with an SD card. The down side is cost is very high compared to the ESP8266, Blend Micro, and others. It is very powerful however, so if you are doing data processing locally this is a great choice. The default programming environment is Node.js using javascript, but since it is Linux it can easily be configured for other environments. There are a number

NPM Modules

  • Cylon.js is a JavaScript framework for robotics, physical computing, and the Internet of Things. It is installed as NPM module in the node.js environment on the Edison.
  • Johnny-Five is another JavaScript framework for robotics, physical computing, and the Internet of Things.

Sparkfun has a development board platform that allows hardware blocks to be added that provide most capabilities required in an arduino type project.

I have a few notes here:

Codebender

Since some schools only use Chromebooks it is helpful to use Codebender for Arduino development. Sparkfun has a nice tutorial on using Codebender

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