Collaboration and Arduino in the Internet of Things: Publication from Media Evolution

Media Evolution recently released the publication Internet of Things: how media industries can benefit from a network of connected things. Medea’s David Cuartielles and Richard Topgaard contributed.

Download the publication in Swedish and in English. Below are the two contributions by Topgaard and Cuartielles.

Richard Topgaard: Collaboration allows us to work with the new material

We media producers, programmers, scientists and ordinary users have new material to work with called the Internet of Things. This material is at the boundary between digital and analog, virtual and physical, and between private and public.

People have been talking about the Internet of Things as a technical infrastructure for a long time, but it’s getting to be time to think about the values we can create using this infrastructure.

This new material is often created without us having to make an effort. It’s already easy to create and have access to data about how you move about the city without manually entering data in a spreadsheet. Open application programming interfaces allow you to create services and products based on publicly available data.

There are already many examples of applications based on the new material: apps that automatically send reimbursement claims when your train is delayed, art installations that illustrate how to translate the number of bicycles passing by into dollars, gasoline or carbon dioxide; washing machines that start when the electricity price is lowest, a home that talks to you through social media channels or a car that automatically makes an appointment at the garage when it’s time for an oil change.

From the examples above, we can conclude that we have a long way to go when it comes to developing applications that are actually useful for people. The material we have to work with is complex in nature and I believe that in the future the ability to work across traditional industry boundaries will be invaluable.

What happens, for example, if we let authors and poets work with interaction designers and publishers to create digital poetry?

The result may be I Am Poem, a poetry machine that draws its material from the millions of tweets that people, bots and sensors are churning out every day. I Am Poem took shape partly on a website, but also as a hacked label printer and a lever that could “control the speed of the internet”.

I Am - printer

Printed stream from Pär Thörns poem “I am”.

If we allow many skills to work together, I think we will look back in ten years and wonder why we thought the Internet of Things was so difficult to understand.

If we start focusing on human needs and what these needs look like in different types of environments—public spaces, at home, at a concert or on public transportation—then we will be able to create services and products that not only help us with daily chores, but also make us laugh and cry.

David Cuartielles: Arduino in the Internet of Things

Back in the 80’s, scientists imagined a world where we would be surrounded by a multiplicity of computers. Nowadays, any home appliance is using microcontrollers more powerful than some of the first personal computers. There are so many computers surrounding us, that if all of them had a screen and a keyboard, it would be impossible for us to interact with them.

The Internet of Things (IoT) adds one extra degree of complexity to this equation. It brings to our attention that those computers are not living in isolation, they talk to other computers through the internet. Connecting to the net opens up for a world of possibilities where products and services come in bundles offering functionalities we never dreamed of.

The IoT deals with simplifying the way we generate and consume information that is sensitive to be shared online. The issue is then how to create objects that will help designers thinking about new devices.

Arduino is an open platform with a whole series of documentation that allows doing just that: creating new connected devices that will serve or collect data in ways that are more meaningful to us. It addresses the fact that you don’t need to be an engineer to envision a new product.

In 2005 our platform was used by industrial designers to implement visions of future devices. Back then we didn’t ambition it to leave the university labs or to be used by a broader audience.

Nowadays it can be found at retail stores like Radioshack in the US or Kjell & Co in Sweden. It is manufactured by tens of thousands each month. Students use it when bringing their ideas to life, hobbyist spend time building new concepts out of them, engineers study its development at universities, companies like Apple ask for cv’s of people with ”Arduino knowledge”. It is being cloned at a ratio of one copy for each original board.

Hardware plus software

We are crafting collaborations with companies dedicated to the internet as a business model. In May 2011, Google launched their accessory development kit based on one of the Arduino designs. In February 2012 Telefonica announced Arduino’s official M2M (machine-to-machine) board to allow the ”long tail” of the communication business building connected objects including reasonable data-plans attached to them.

Arduino has grown beyond expectations and we keep on getting amazed by projects like the one of Sebastian, a 14 year old Chilean teen that managed to get over 30.000 followers on Twitter thanks to an Arduino machine he designed that would post a message when detecting an earthquake. Arduino is a tool to bring us a little closer to a more connected world.