Tag Archives: Bluetooth

Build your own remote car starter with Bluetooth


With wintry weather approaching, create your own remote start unit for your car using Arduino and Bluetooth.


Remote door locks are pretty standard nowadays, but chances are you don’t have a remote start unit for your car. You could always just buy one and install it, but if you’re (former) Subaru Forester owner Chris Johnson, you would instead design your own using an ATmega328 chip and a Bluetooth module.

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His control box, seen as a prototype in the video below, uses a computer to connect to the in-car module and start the vehicle via several relays. It takes into account whether the car is in gear and if it’s running during this sequence. It shuts off when driving, or after 30 minutes. Physically, the starter (now fully inside the black box) connects to the car via a DB-9 connector, so removal for reprogramming was quite easy.

Johnson was able to get information on the engine control module (ECM) via the car’s maintenance manual, but verified these values using an oscilloscope. Of this process, he notes that, “You probably would have enjoyed watching me trying to read the waveform period on the oscilloscope as I drove around the parking lot.”

As with most projects on this site, if you want to try it yourself, proceed at your own risk. Control of a heavy and, though we don’t always think about it, extremely fast object is a serious responsibility. Also, though certainly entertaining, it’s probably best not to ‘scope and drive — get someone to help you! As the wicked wintry weather approaches, be sure to check out the remote starter in more detail here.

SmartEverything is like the Swiss Army knife of IoT boards


The SmartEverything dev board is an Arduino form-factor prototyping platform that combines SIGFOX, BLE, NFC, GPS and a suite of sensors.


Announced earlier this year, SmartEverything is an IoT development platform from Arrow Electronics. Living up to its name, the latest iteration of the SoC, dubbed the SmartEverything Foxboasts a familiar Arduino form-factor with an array of factory-bundled I/O ports, sensors and wireless connectivity.

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Impressively, the kit combines SIGFOX, Bluetooth and NFC technologies with GPS and a suite of embedded sensors. An Atmel | SMART D21 at its heart is used to integrate the featured devices, while a SIGFOX module provides IoT enablement.

The SIGFOX standard is energy efficient and wide-transmission-range technology that employs UNB (Ultra Narrow Band) based radio and offers low data-transfer speeds of 10 to 1000 bits per second. However, it is highly energy-efficient and typically consumes only 50μW compared to 5000μW for cellular communication, meaning significantly enhanced battery life for mobile or portable smart devices.

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A Telit LE51-868 S wireless module gives design engineers access to the rapidly expanding SIGFOX cellular wireless network and covers the 863-870MHz unlicensed ISM band. It is preloaded with the SIGFOX network stack and the Telit proprietary Star Network protocol. What’s more, the Telit cloud management software provides easy connection up to the cloud.

Truly like the Swiss Army knife of the IoT, the SmartEverything board is equipped with: an Atmel Crypto Authentication chipset; an 868MHz antenna; a GPS module with embedded antenna for localizations applications, which supports the GPS, QZSS and GLONASS standards, and is Galileo ready; a proximity and ambient light sensor; a capacitive digital sensor for humidity and temperature measurement; a nine-axis 3D accelerometer, a 3D gyroscope and 3D magnetometer combination sensor; a MEMS-based pressure sensor; an NTAG I2C NFC module; and a Bluetooth Low Energy transceiver.

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The SmartEverything measures only 68.8mm x 53.3mm in size, and includes USB connectors, a power jack and an antenna extending that extend the board. The unit can be powered in one of three ways, either through two AA 1.5V batteries (1.4V to 3.2V), a 5 to 45V external supply or a 5V mini-USB connector.

For quick and easy software development, the SmartEverything Fox board is fully supported by the Arduino IDE and Atmel Studio. Can it get any better than that? If you’re looking for an IoT board that does just about everything, you may want to check this SoC out.

Bring your LEGO projects to life with the Brick Sound Kit


This rocket-shaped device will add motion-activated sound effects to any LEGO or Mega Bloks project. 


“What if there was a way to record our own sounds and play them back whenever we flew our Lego spaceship?” This was the simple question that prompted eight-year-old Chase Freedman to explore his imagination and resulted in the conception of the Brick Sound Kit — an attachable device that allows users to record or download sounds to enhance their playing experience.

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Instead of having to actually make the typical “whoosh,””pew pew” and “pow pow” noises  yourself, the Brick Sound Kit enables children (and those who are still kids at heart) to transform their toys into interactive machines. Recreating your favorite scenes from Star Wars has never been so much fun!

The BSK is built around an Arduino-friendly board equipped with an ATmega328, LEDs, light-up buttons, a AAA battery and a gyroscope, all protected by a highly durable, rocket-shaped enclosure. This casing not only functions as a standalone toy, it can easily snap onto anything you build with Lego, Mega Bloks, Kre-O and other compatible brick building sets.

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Freedman’s innovation is ready for use right out of the box. What’s more, it can be paired over Bluetooth with the accompanying BSK Sound Effects App, along with other apps and games to add more interaction to the your bricks in just minutes.

And that’s not all. The Brick Sound Kits includes an FTDI USB adapter and cable so you can reprogram the gadget’s capabilities using free Arduino tools. Open source SDKs let anyone build their own apps and games controlled by the BSK. All programming is super simple for users of any age or skill, and will be supported by the team through a developer portal.

The young Maker didn’t do this all by himself; in fact, he collaborated with his father, Chuck, to bring the idea to life — and now Kickstarter. After receiving enormous amounts of great feedback from friends and family, the duo looked into how they could commercialize the invention and make it something that other people could use. The two ended up contracting Boston University Electronics Design Facility to develop the kit’s circuit board and Clear Design Lab of Boston to design the housing.

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“The Brick Sound Kit is not only a device for kids. It was also developed to be used by enthusiasts and collectors, that want to enhance the device even further and create their own programs and sounds. All this comes together in a marketplace where sounds, apps and games can be exchanged between Brick Sound Kit users and developers,” dad explains.

Are you ready to make the spaceship of your dreams? Then fly on over to the Brick Sound Kit’s Kickstarter campaign, where the father-son duo is currently seeking $18,000. Amazingly, Chase is actually the second eight-year-old Maker to launch a crowdfunding campaign this year. Over the summer, Omkar Govil-Nair debuted his O Watch, which went on to garner more than $18,000.

Maker builds a pocket-sized chording keyboard


This Arduino-based chording keyboard can communicate over Bluetooth or USB.


Per Brian McEvoy’s Instructables article, “A chording keyboard is a device which relies on pressing multiple keys at once, similar to playing a chord on a guitar.” This type of computer interface can be quite fast as you don’t have to move your fingers off of the home position. In McEnvoy’s case, he designed his keyboard so that it would be extremely portable for a cyberpunk costume he’s assembling.

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His 3D-printed keyboard features three thumb buttons and a button for each finger, and uses an Arduino Micro (ATmega32U4) to translate key combinations into something that a computing device can recognize. According to his writeup, the seven keys and processor are required, but many of the other components, including the Bluetooth module, accelerometer, battery holder and USB port are optional. On the other hand, it appears one could need either a battery holder or USB port to get power from somewhere, so one of the two is probably necessary.

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It would seem like something similar to this running under Bluetooth would make an excellent phone accessory, perhaps as a custom case. The learning curve would be steep, but once learned, this type of accessory could make texting or phone-emails much, much faster.

You can find even more information about how this device came to be on his 24 Hour Engineer site!

TrackR atlas locates your lost items


You’ll never misplace things (or pets) again!


Whether you’re an organized or messy person, you inevitably lose things or forget the last spot you saw it. What is more frustrating is that you make a bigger mess just trying to find it. You can keep a mental map of where you put things in your home, but wouldn’t it be much easier if your phone did that for you? Now with TrackR atlas, you can.

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Fittingly named, TrackR atlas maps out your home and enables room-based item monitoring of your BLE-based items. This is the second project to come from the team that created the successful TrackR bravo, a small Bluetooth tracking device that attaches to your valuable items. Atlas works with bravo and other wireless trackers to better organize your home.

The TrackR atlas plugs into a wall socket in each room of your home, and utilizes both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy radios to detect the presence of items that have TrackR devices or third-party Bluetooth-based trackers attached to them. From the Android and iOS app, you can locate which room all of your items are in your home.

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Atlas can also notify you when things move around or leave the house. This is perfect if you have pets that tend to wander off. Among its other features, atlas has remote ringing, Amazon Alexa voice-activation, and is backed by the Crowd GPS network so you can track your items when they are missing outside of your home. You never have to aimlessly search for things again!

The tiny unit has an 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi radio with a range of 230 feet (70 meters), and Bluetooth 4.0 with a range up to 98 feet (30 meters). It supports wall sockets for the U.S., UK, Australia and most of Europe.

Tired of misplacing things? Head over to TrackR’s Indiegogo campaign, where they have already more than tripled their $50,000 goal. You’ll be able to pinpoint the location of your valuables starting June 2016.

Pizza delivery is only a button press away


Engineers and college students, rejoice! Takeout just got even easier.


Ordering late-night pizza is about to get a whole lot easier, thanks to Domino’s. Inspired by the Amazon Dash Button, the company has introduced what they’re calling The Easy Order system, which literally lets you summon delivery at the touch of a button.

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This isn’t the first time Domino’s has thought outside the (pizza) box. If you recall back in 2013, the fast-food chain unveiled their plans around drone delivery, and earlier this year, joked about a futuristic driverless delivery vehicles for April Fools’. They’ve even opened up a tweet to eat campaign, which allows you to order via emojis on Twitter.

The technology behind the wireless button is provided by Flic, complete with a mini cardboard box, and enables you to order your favorite pie for delivery with just one press. The Easy Order unit pairs with an accompanying smartphone app over Bluetooth and then sends your desired pizza choice to your nearby Domino’s store.

Similar to Amazon Dash, all you need to do to get started is register on Domino’s website by inserting information such as your address, payment info, and preferred pizza on file — and voilà! Once you’ve sent your order, a red light will illuminate to inform you that your large mozz with meatball (or whatever you like) is on its way.

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Currently, The Easy Order service is only limited to the UK, with the first batch being released in December as part of a social media-driven competition. A wider rollout is expected to begin sometime in February 2016.

Surely, this may not rank as the greatest use case of IoT technology; however, amid the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, it can certainly add a convenient factor. Are you ready for a lazier, more efficient way of ordering? If so, you can thank Domino’s. If you’re on a diet and trying to watch what you eat, we’re sorry. (Meanwhile, you can also check out how one Maker hacked his Amazon Dash Button for pizza delivery.)

Dojo wants to monitor and secure your IoT devices


This IoT security device will notify you of any danger through a wireless, color-coded orb.


With billions of connected things already in existence today, and a few billion more expected in the next two years, the need for security has never been greater. Cognizant of this, one Bay Area startup has come up with an innovative solution that monitors the behavior of smart devices on your network to protect and ensure the privacy of your home. Introducing Dojo.

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The brainchild of Dojo-Labs, this IoT security system is comprised of a few parts: a white dock that plugs into your Internet gateway, a pebble-like unit which receives alerts over Bluetooth and an accompanying smartphone app that puts control right in the palm of your hand. Whenever activity occurs on the network worth your attention, the light rings on the stone will start to glow in one of three colors — red, yellow and green.

Once connected to your home network, Dojo will add each respective device and begin tracking their activity, informing you of any odd or peculiar behavior. A red light suggests action must be taken, orange signifies that a problem is being fixed, and green denotes that everything is fine.

“Dojo knows when the TV is still recording your voice even if it’s off and when that data is being uploaded to the cloud,” explains Yossi Atias, co-founder and CEO of Dojo-Labs. “We all lock our front doors and yet our devices are wide open. Our homes contain our most intimate data but the security of these things is an afterthought. We created Dojo as the first technology to help us safeguard our homes.”

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Dojo doesn’t examine the incoming and outgoing content on network, but instead analyzes metadata about who the gadgets are talking to and how. The system prevents attacks and detects intrusions through machine learning and behavior tracking. It learns what’s normal for each device and then checks to see whether it’s doing anything differently. Without even having to look at the data or knowing what those threats are, Dojo can block them. It grows increasingly intelligent as new attacks and equipment are introduced.

What’s more, Dojo can sense when something is up and will immediately notify the user by displaying a simple message in the mobile app, while also changing the color emanating from the pebble. You will be prompted to either allow or block the activity, as well as communicate back to the system through that same text-messaging interface.

The Dojo approach to security and its role in the home is incredibly unique and was designed by Gadi Amit and the team at NewDealDesign. With a growing number of appliances coming online, perhaps this could be the solution to put everyone’s mind at ease.

Intrigued? Head over to Dojo’s official page here.

Pixelio is a 3D scanning turntable for your phone


Goodbye, shaky hand effect! Pixelio lets you create high-quality 3D scans and 360-degree photos with nothing more than your phone. 


Having noticed a void in the market for a high quality yet affordable 3D scanning device, Smart 3D set out to fill this gap. In doing so, the UK-based startup created Pixelio a simple, clever and user-friendly scanner that only requires a smartphone or GoPro to function. How great is that?

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With hopes of introducing users to a whole new dimension in 3D photography, the system is built around a turntable, an accompanying app and a mobile device’s camera that enables you to shoot 360-degre images and time-lapse videos. Given is compact and super portable size, Pixelio lets you bring a mini 3D scanning lab and photo studio wherever you want to go.

Smart3D suggests that Pixelio is a perfect solution for anyone who needs panoramic views of objects, whether that’s a Maker for his 3D printer, an architect, an engineer, a graphic designer, bloggers, real estate developers, tourists, or anyone who’s looking to sell things on sites like eBay.

Pixelio works in tandem with Autodesk 123D’s Catch software running on the smartphone. Combined with the turntable setup, users can scan any object that can fit on the platform in 3D. One of, if not, its greatest advantages is that the device will strap your smartphone into place so that you can maintain a steady shot, unlike handheld scanners where detail can be compromised due to the changing positions. According to its creators, the holder is compatible with just about any phone on the market today.

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Pixelio boasts several other innovative features as well, which will provide you with a seamless experience. It has a built-in powerbank and wireless phone charging option, an adjustable rotation speed, a tripod mount, and an integrated timer that can be useful when setting shutter speeds for time-lapses. What’s more, images and videos that are captured through Pixelio can be saved to either MP4 or GIF formats, while anything scanned will be saved as a 3D file.

In terms of hardware, Pixelio is equipped with an ultra-low power nRF51822 CPU and an Atmel | SMART SAM D20 MCU core. Aside from that, the unit includes an OLED display, capacitive touch buttons, an RGB LED backlight, Bluetooth Low Energy and Wi-Fi connectivity, USB ports and a 5200mAh battery. Additionally, the startup’s patented “Virtual Finger” technology is designed to replicate the touch of a human finger as the phone moves around an object, ensuring that scans or images don’t blur. Virtual Finger is used to activate the shutter release button in applications that aren’t Bluetooth compatible or in smartphones that lack BLE support.

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Ready to say goodbye the shaky hand effect? Head over to Pixelio’s Kickstarter campaign, where Smart3D is currently seeking $50,000. Delivery is slated for sometime next spring.

This wearable device provides safety with one push of a button


For when pepper spray won’t do the trick, Athena emits a loud alarm and messages loved ones with your location. 


Did you know that a woman in the U.S. is attacked every two minutes? This is a startling statistic that inspired Philadelphia-based entrepreneur Yasmine Mustafa to launch ROAR for Good, a startup whose mission is to empower women, reduce assaults and transform society. Their first product, Athena, is a discreet piece of smart jewelry that will alert family, friends and nearby pedestrians in an emergency.

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The pendant can be worn as a necklace or clipped onto any item of clothing. By holding down its recessed button for three seconds, a loud 85 decibel alarm will emit from the accessory (that’s louder than a freight train 50 feet away) and a text message will be immediately sent to a group of contacts listed in its accompanying app. These recipients will also receive a map showing your location, directions and the opportunity to call you or 911.

Athena also comes with a silent mode, which is particularly useful in situations where a wearer wouldn’t want the attacker to know that the device has been triggered. Using this SilentROAR feature, an alert message can be sent without the alarm being activated.

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The wearable’s electronics are housed inside a water-resistant shell with a non-slip silicone front and a lightweight aluminum back, and boasts a three month battery life. It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth in order to generate the GPS location and summon help via the companion app. Athena even has a distinctive raised texture to help guide your finger to the button in the middle of the gadget, making it super easy and intuitive to call for help.

Its creators have crafted the jewelry with modularity in mind, so that as they come out with new designs and colors, the face of Athena can be easily snapped out and replaced, providing maximum customization for even the biggest fashionistas. For its launch, the wearable will come with three differently-colored metal backings — antique silver, timeless black and rose gold.

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Does this sound like a safety device that you or someone you know would like to have at all times? Head over to Athena’s Indiegogo campaign, where the ROAR for Good team has garnered over $65,000. Delivery is slated for June 2016.

HAIZE is a smart compass for urban cyclists


This “magical compass” will always point to where you want to go using its LED display.


HAIZE is a new type of navigation system designed for cyclists, particularly those commuting throughout a city. The device works like a magic compass in the sense that, instead of pointing north, it points to the destination you set in its accompanying mobile app. Ultimately, it will help make your ride safer by letting you keep your smartphone in your pocket and eyes on the road.

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The brainchild of London-based startup onomo, HAIZE can easily be attached to any bicycle via its integrated rubber band and is compact enough that you can always bring it wherever you go. Once affixed to your handlebar, simply define the destination in its companion app, put your phone away and allow HAIZE to guide you from point A to B. Its 23-LED display will show you the way as well as keep you abreast of the distance to your destination.

Using HAIZE’s minimalistic screen, you’ll have all the information you need at a glance. Both direction and distance are represented by a set of outer and central LEDs, respectively. You can select between two different modes of navigation: compass mode that points you in the direction of your final destination as you make your way throughout the city streets freely and navigation mode that shares a specific route with turn-by-turn notifications.

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While being used as a compass, an outer LED will point toward your destination while an inner LED will blink faster the closer you get to your journey’s end. If the central light ever becomes red, that means you’re going further out of the way. When navigating, the amount of outer LEDs will denote the distance remaining and any upcoming turns. When it’s time to go left or right, only the outer LED will appear while the central light will flash white in shorter intervals the closer you get to your final stop.

Housed inside its anodized aluminum shell lies an ATmega328 at its core, along with an accelerometer and gyroscope to determine position, a magnetometer to track direction, a light sensor to regulate the LED brightness in various conditions and a rechargeable 300mAh battery that offers two weeks of use. Aside from that, HAIZE uses an embedded Bluetooth 4.0 module to communicate with its smartphone app.

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Looking ahead, the team hopes to utilize all of its embedded hardware to locate friends, monitor ride activity, collect trip data, receive incoming calls and text messages, as well as detect accidents and automatically alert emergency contacts. Sound like a system you’d like to mount onto your handlebar? Race over to HAIZE’s Kickstarter campaign, where onomo is currently seeking $76,645. Units are expected to begin shipping in June 2016 — just in time for summer!