IOTLondon Meetup 28th March ’12

First and very important after last time, the organisers had found an excellent venue in a convenient location and they even provided free beer. What’s not to like? This is really essential when you have great talks – which again we did.

First up was @andrewlindsay talking about the gateway software he’s created for Sukkin’s wireless hub device. This can handle arbitrary numbers of wireless sensors communicating at 433 or 868 Mhz. Thanks to an included socket it’s also amenable to Xbee or XRF (ciseco.co.uk) wireless connections. It’s MBED based so there’s enough space to do the software properly, something that’s almost impossible on current Arduinos.

At 2 watts, the device is eminently suitable to being always on, something that many boxes are not. Being open source we’ll never be limited in the directions we could take the software that Andrew is creating.

Andrew has only tried a few sensors so far but, interestingly, these include air pressure and dust particles. He’s using Jeenodes at the remote end.  He plans all sorts of further enhancements, notablly a web-based configuration facility.  Excellent stuff!

@rollinson (Jeremy) then talked about “Open Telematics”, a mobile (currently Android) platform for telemetry that posts data to pachube. The first outing of this is a vehicle app that hooks up to the CAN and OBDII buses now legally required in all cars.

The platform uses the phone for GPRS, accelerometer, GPS and screen and hooks up to the CANBUS via a proprietary dongle. I want one. I’ve signed up for their beta programme.

At Jeremy pointed out, this is unique in that people will be able to get their own data, something not possible with commercial vehicle tracking systems. Datastreams will include, at least, fuel flow, rpm, speed etc. As well as offering the app for a reasonable price they have plans to make it social and add premium functionality. However, as we can access the data there’s nothing to stop others from innovating around this. Apparently Open Energy Monitor and already looking at how they might integrate this with their system.

So, I thought, good job I did not go to the trouble of building this. It does the job and the price is right.

Third session was from Cesar Garcia Saez and colleague from Medialab Prado Madrid. This sounds like a fabulous facility where people can come in and work together on interesting projects.

It’s open to all and inclusive in bring togther a wide range of disciplines from art to technology.  It’s also inclusive to people who are not Madrid-based through the use of Wikis, video streaming and regular open calls to bring people in from other places. Something like 50-100 collaborators are involved.

As this is government funded, one of the rules of play is that the results are open sourced. The projects they do at the Medialab tend to be pre-competitive, not products ready for market so this open policy is not a problem.

Their “Smart City” project was given as an example. In this they collected air quality data and displayed it on the side of a building. Following up on this they are getting involved in the Air Quality Egg project (now active on kickstarter).

All in all an excellent meetup. Many thanks to Ed and Alex. Keep up the good work.

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