Building an estimated time of arrival device with littleBits


The Honest ETA device lets your housemate know when you’re likely to arrive home.


You’ve all been there: You tell your spouse that you’re on your way home, when in actuality you’ve yet to leave the office. As part of a recent collaboration between littleBits and Popular Science, one new project is looking to put an end to missed dinner dates, late arrivals and the altogether annoying habit of never being home when you said you’d be! In other words, no more “Honey, where are you?” messages.

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The aptly named Honest ETA Device was created to let a housemate — whether that’s a parent, a significant other or a college roomie — know when you are on the way home, and more importantly, likely to arrive. The cloud-connected progress meter tracks your whereabouts by reading your smartphone’s location and then displays it on a bargraph module inside the house.

Honest ETA employs a GPS-enabled mobile device, coupled with some IFTTT recipes, the cloudBit and a bargraph to show your proximity. IFTTT recipes are set up using a location channel, tasked with triggering when you enter or exit a pre-set radius.

Given that there are five LEDs on the bargraph, the littleBits team programed five radii, each with recipes related to entry and exit. This allows you to keep tabs on someone as they come and go. Upon leaving the office (or the gym, class, or wherever else you may be), your smartphone will notify the cloudBit as you start to make your way home by illuminating the LEDs on the bargraph. The LEDs will continue to light up the closer that you get.

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The project is also equipped with an MP3 player (ATmega168) and speaker, so that you can play a song of your choice when you’re only minutes away. If you happen to make it home first, however, an IFTTT SMS recipe will enable you send a text to your housemate with the press of a button, letting them know that you have indeed made it back safely.

On top of that, littleBits shares a nifty little idea to round out the design. Why not turn the circuit into an interactive wall piece that both displays your progress and holds your wallet? Using just a small hinged platform that sits directly on top of the button, the act of placing your wallet inside the case will automatically press the button, thereby sending a text message. Its creators note that you can add some acrylic edge lighting to the bargraph for nice visual effect, too.

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Sound like a project you can benefit from? Hurry over to littleBits’ official page to get started. There, you will find a detailed step-by-step breakdown to help you bring your own ETA device to life, or simply watch the video tutorial below!

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