Connect your board to the Blynk platform and create a graphic user interface in a matter of minutes.
Developed by Pasha Baiborodin, Blynk is a platform that allows anyone to control their Arduino and other Atmel based MCUs with an iOS or Android device. Makers will now have the ability to create a drag-and-drop user interface for their project in just minutes, without having to purchase another proprietary shield.
Blynk is kind of like a prototyping board, just on your smartphone, that features everything from sliders and displays to graphs and other functional widgets that can be arranged on the screen to control an Arduino unit, as well as gather data from sensors in a project. What’s more, the platform works right out out of the box — all that’s needed is the app and an MCU that can connect to the Internet.
“We’re on a mission to see the Maker Movement thrive by removing technical barriers and steep learning curves that prevent new creators from going beyond just tinkering with their boards through to useful inventions as quickly as possible,” Baiborodin explains.
It should be noted that Blynk isn’t exclusively for beginners. In fact, experienced engineers, developers and Makers can gain quite a bit from the platform. Not only will they have an easy-to-use mobile app for their next Arduino (or Raspberry Pi) gadget without having to actually build it from scratch, they can employ the program as a rapid prototyping tool to test new ideas prior to buying physical components for implementation.
The agnostic Blynk isn’t limited to a specific board or shield, but is instead compatible with a wide-range of Maker-favorite hardware. Whether the MCU is linked to the Internet via Wi-Fi, Ethernet or even an ESP8266, Blynk’s libraries and example sketches will have hardware connected to the server and smartphone-ready without requiring a laptop, accessing additional web services or learning new programming languages.
Blynk libraries currently support USB, Ethernet shield, Wi-Fi shield, as well as just about every Arduino from the Uno (ATmega328) to the Yún (ATmega32U4), other Arduino-compatible chips like the TinyDuino (ATmega328P), Raspberry Pi via its GPIOs, Spark (now Particle) Core and ESP8266.
“Arduino has completely changed the game of hobby electronics, especially thanks to their awesome user experience. They provide you with everything you need to start and understand the basics. Unfortunately, the more inspired you get to create great things, the more you find out that each next step requires more and more knowledge. So, your learning curve is slowing down and your frustration is growing. Maybe some people find this challenge appealing, but for me it just inspired the creation of Blynk,” Baiborodin adds.
Taking Arduino outside of the home network has proven to sometimes be difficult for Makers just starting out. Subsequently, Blynk’s Server was built to handle all communication aspects, and monitor the board while the smartphone is offline. Arduino talks directly to the server with lightweight binary protocol based on web sockets, making communication very fast and avoiding all unnecessary nodes.
Now live, the app can be found on both iTunes App Store and Google Play. Over the course of development, the startup has gone on to form partnerships with a number of notable names throughout the Maker community, including AirBoard, TinyCircuits, ThingSpeak and Konekt.
As to what you can create using the platform, the possibilities are only limited by one’s imagination. Among some of the projects already devised using Blynk are smartphone-controlled drones, self-aware plants and connected refrigerators. Hot on the heels of its successful Kickstarter campaign, be sure to follow along with the team’s updates here.