Tag Archives: API

LED matrix flashes real-time commuter info

Don’t you hate rushing around like a lunatic just to find out that your train is running late? Well, the iStrategyLabs crew recently debuted a solution to that very problem: a slick LED matrix sign that displays data about the next four trains arriving at the nearest metro station.


Dubbed Transit, the sign also lists how many bikes are available at the closest bikeshare station, along with the current local temperature. The data is pulled from various APIs via an Electric Imp platform, while an Arduino Mega (ATmega1280) is tasked with processing the information and powering the six LED matrices.

“The focal point for building this unit was displaying information. So, once the LEDs were sourced, everything was built around that,” explained Taylor Guidon, a creative technologist at iStrategyLabs.

Guidon also noted that he first prototyped all the components on a breadboard to ensure the code was being properly executed.

“The biggest issue was learning how to handle the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority API. They have a great API, but their trains do not run 24/7, so there needed to be logic in place to handle blank data being pushed over night,” he told Gizmag.

The final unit is mounted on the wall between the office’s two elevators, making it easy for people to see the information they need before they head out of the office. The sign refreshes every 30 seconds with data from each of the APIs.

Total time of assembly? One day. Total cost? Approximately $250.

Want to check out some of iStrategyLabs’ other innovative creations? We’d recommend the Atmel based selfie-taking mirror or its Uber-calling shoe clip — both of which can be found here.


28 new application notes for Atmel | SMART SAM4S devices

Atmel engineers recently published 28 application notes for the company’s comprehensive Atmel | SMART SAM4S devices. Based on the powerful ARM Cortex-M4 core, this Atmel | SMART product line extends our Cortex-M portfolio to offer:

  • Increased performance and power efficiency
  • Higher memory densities: up to 2MB of Flash and 160KB of SRAM
  • And a rich peripheral set for connectivity, system control and analog interfacing

According to an Atmel engineering rep, the application notes target the use of peripheral modules and are based on drivers already available in the ASF (Atmel Software Framework).

“The application notes highlight the availability of the drivers and offers the reader relevant details about the API (application programming interface),” the rep told Bits & Pieces.

“This significant increase in the number of application notes for the SAM4 series gives the engineer a better starting point for using the products. More specifically, the new application notes cover the Atmel SAM4S/SD, SAM4N, SAM4L/LS, SAM4E, and to some extent, also the SAM4C and SAM G51/53 families.”


So without further ado, the following app notes are now available from the Atmel website in PDF format:

IoT’s 7th layer will facilitate scaling and real-time

The spurring growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) has taken rise in business, with a number of startups stemming from the software alley, Maker Movement and crowdfunded space already contributing to the industry. Within idea making and product baking, various origins ferment the constant demand for transparency and community. This reveals strong elements of Conway’s law.

The Internet of Things cannot evolve into what everyone expects it should without the larger open source component. Let’s go back and take a look at Conway’s law.  In perspective of both systems of the individual and organization, we are trying to create and the organization also creates it. Interoperability, integrations and the ability to share across communities hold the vital keys in the system.

An organization looking to build into IoT will need to help mature an open development organization, where we all have the ability to participate in the decisions, code, wiring, funding, and the ramp up of the work. By removing the attachment of intellectual property and changing the dynamics of the development team helps to keep things engaged and promotes the resolve attained by larger communities in moving forward and solving problems.

Partnerships across the breadth of business and enterprise will eventually surface the need to have wider and more comprehensive APIs; these APIs are agile and act as the seamless building blocks for sharing of data and bridging the real-time events into the symphony of various different devices, which can integrate easily into enterprise solutions. The API is the building block and cementing agent for innovative uses of connected devices — the Internet of Things.

For example, partnerships between two companies can quickly enable the creation of smart energy service, opening up opportunities to integrate energy appliances combined with data analytics showing home heating and air conditioning as well as consumer usage. An output like this not only creates added value chain, but also helps unify the customer-centric view for businesses wanting to grow closer with their customers, allowing them choices in their activity and usage.

The connected home market ― even connected consumer devices to energy harvesting ― will all require partnerships between companies, enabling them to deliver a smart energy service that integrates energy devices and appliances with data analytics around air conditioning and home heating systems designed for a device-agnostic platform. The partnership allows pools of expertise (enterprises, startups, or newly-established IoT services) to draw upon energy efficiency algorithms to enhance customers’ home energy use and automation.

Partnerships have already been used to spark and create new services for U.S. households. A growing number of sensors are emerging into the marketplace as well as threading these aggregate sensor results to end-to-end to products/solutions.


As previously seen on Bits & Pieces, we talk about PubNub. This is a service that is already widely used, distributing traffic to 200 million real-time IoT devices across 14 data centers worldwide, serving 3 millon messages a second all within a ¼ second in latency. That’s close to global real-time one can get with that many tenets/nodes on the cloud. In shear numbers, there are well over 1000s of apps leveraging this solution. In fact, this company has really got big plans for the Internet of Things, as it’s already powering thousands of real-time apps streaming 3 million messages per second to over 100 million devices each month. For example, just take some of their notable customers who are already using their services and technology to scale real-time applications and devices onto their own domain expertise solutions.


Coke-Big-Game-VoteApp developers like CBS Outdoor and Coca-Cola are using these integrations with real-time data aggregation transmitted by the sensors to produce some really powerful results. CBS Outdoor integrates sensors on embedded controllers to sync content on real-life digital billboards with online web displays using PubNub. Another IoT integration is found with Coca-Cola enabling friends to chat and annotate live video in real-time on the red carpet at the American Music Awards. The beverage giant has also introduced live voting (“You Decide the Ending”) and IoT experience synchronization using PubNub during their Cokechase.com campaign.

As demonstrated by both Coca-Cola and CBS Outdoor, companies are using/scaling this real-time device connectivity across their services. With their availability of an SDK kits for both Arduino (AVR-based Microcontrollers) and Rasberry Pi, Pubnub is quickly on their way to establishing a hook into the Maker Movement; a class of hackers, crowdfunded makers, creative tinkers, and app coders who can wield the power of this API to help take their ideas from prototype to a product.


This is all done with open code and idea contribution, building a collective number of APIs.

APIs are core to the expansion of IoT. What an inventor needs are the following:

  1. A standard protocol (ie. Restful, CoApp, MQTT, etc)
  2. A set of variables with enough data points to create a sophisticated algorithm that maximizes efficiency or augments information or experience
  3. Arduino SDK (Development and Coding into AVR based Microcontrollers)

nodejs_pubnub_solutionPubnub is enabling their customers to rapidly develop, more importantly, scale real-time applications. Explore solutions to some of these examples they offer ranging from (1) challenges for IoT building, (2) building real-time dashboards to connected devices, (3) bridging devices across networks from lan to wan, (4) connecting the car, and (5) home automation.

Interested in learning more about the Arduino SDK kit? Please visit the PubNub Developer site and then get to IoT exploring. Get ready to jump start the rapid building and connecting of devices for the Internet of Things.