Tag Archives: DIY

Rewind: 27 STEM kits from 2015


These STEM toys from 2015 are helping to inspire the next generation of Makers.


STEM education has been a growing venture in schools across the country, with even the President himself making it a priority to encourage students as young as grade-school to pursue the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines. After all, these fields are changing the world rapidly within the areas of innovation, economic growth and employment. But let’s face it; these subjects don’t come easy to everyone, so how do we instill STEM in kids?

With this in mind, many startups have sought out new and exciting ways to entice the younger generation to explore their creativity and develop an interest in hands-on learning. Testament to that, here are several products from 2015 looking to inspire the next generation of Makers.

littleBits Gizmos & Gadgets

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The Gizmos & Gadgets Kit is the ultimate invention toolbox, complete with motors, wheels, lights , switches, servos, buzzers and even the tools to build a remote control.

Jewelbots

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Jewelbots are programmable friendship bracelets that teach girls the basics of coding.

Thimble

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Thimble is a monthly subscription service that delivers fun electronic projects with guided tutorials and a helpful community.

Touch Board Starter Kit

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Bare Conductive’s Touch Board Starter Kit contains everything you need to transform surfaces, objects or spaces into sensors.

Makey Makey GO

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Small enough to fit on your keychain, backpack or bracelet, Makey Makey GO turns everyday objects into touchpads and combines them with the Internet. Say hello to the world’s first invention kit.

RePhone

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RePhone from Seeed Studio allows Makers to create a phone themselves in minutes and hack a new way to communicate with things.

mBot

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mBot is an all-in-one, Arduino-compatible robot that supports wireless communication and employs Scratch 2.0-like coding.

Ringo

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Ringo is a miniature digital pet robot equipped with an accelerometer, a gyrosocope, six RGB LEDs, as well as sound and communication sensors.

Wink

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Wink is an Arduino-driven robot designed to help transition students from graphical programming to more powerful written code languages. It’s also the sibling of the aforementioned Ringo.

Kano

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Kano is a computer and coding kit for all ages that’s as simple as LEGO, powered by Raspberry Pi.

Primo Cubetto

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Primo Cubetto is a smart wooden robot designed to teach kids the basics of coding away from the screen.

Petduino

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Petduino puts a DIY twist on the old-school Tamagotchi.

STEMI

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STEMI is a hexapod that can be built right at home and controlled via smartphone.

mCookie

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mCookies are quarter-sized, stackable modules from Microduino that enable young Makers to bring their LEGO projects to life.

Modulo

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Modulo is a set of tiny modular circuit boards that takes the hassle out of electronics.

The Crafty Robot

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The Crafty Robot is a paper toy unlike any other — plug it into a USB port for 30 seconds, unplug it and you’ve got a moving robot.

Kamigami

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Kamigami is an origami-style robot you can construct and program by yourself. Each one can be configured with a unique set of behaviors and characteristics through a drag-and-drop interface.

Phiro

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Phiro is a LEGO-compatible robotics toy that children can play with, code and innovate in various ways.

Quirkbot

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With Quirkbot, young Makers can devise and configure quirky robots (hence its name), blinking outfits and weird sounding creatures out of regular drinking straws.

Cannybots

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Cannybots are LEGO-compatible, smart toy cars that introduce kids to the worlds of robotics, programming and 3D printing.

3DRacers

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3DRacers is a Mario Kart-like indoor racing game that lets anyone design and 3D print their own car.

Volta Flyer

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Volta Flyer is the world’s first DIY airplane kit that is solely powered by the sun.

Roby

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Roby is a 3D-printed robotic machine that not only drives on four wheels, but can walk on two. If it falls, it can even pick itself up again with its pair of arms.

O Watch

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O Watch is a DIY smartwatch for a kid, by a kid.

LocoRobo

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LocoRobo is a cute, inexpensive robot capable of being wirelessly programmed.

KamiBot

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KamiBot is a programmable, smartphone-controlled paper robot.

Pixel Pals

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Pixel Pals are easy-to-build, fun educational kits that grow from a project to a friend you can program.

Fiat Lux

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Fiat Lux is an Arduino-compatible kit specifically designed for unique wearable projects.

AZIBOt

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AZIBOt is an open source, 3D-printed robot kit for STEM education in Africa.

Thimble delivers monthly DIY electronic kits to your door


Birchbox is to beauty as Thimble is to DIY electronics. Build a new device every month! 


The Maker Movement has taken off and diversified the past few years, igniting creativity and innovation in a community of people. For those new to it and interested in getting involved, it can be a bit daunting at first. There’s so much you can build, hack and tinker with, so where do you even start? Makers David Brenner and Oscar Pedroso saw this need, and created a solution to help guide and engage future makers without them feeling intimidated.

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After meeting on Hacker News in December 2014, David and Oscar wanted to share their passion for the DIY crowd by finding a way to engage kids and adults in electronics. A year later, Thimble was conceived.

Thimble is a DIY kit accompanied by a learning app, which allows you to build a new electronic device each month. The team has developed a series of monthly kits that teaches users the fundamentals of electronics and how hardware and software come together, so they can innovate and invent from the comfort of their own home.

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The first kit is a Wi-Fi-enabled robot, controlled by phone, tablet or laptop. The robot arrives with all the components needed to build the project and step-by-step tutorials on the learning app to guide you through the construction process. Additionally, the app provides a community of other Makers to share knowledge and best practices. By the time you finish making your Wi-Fi bot, you will have learned how to create an Android/iOS app that can move things, understand how electricity, motors and microcontrollers work, and have enough knowledge to try out your own ideas to improve the robot. You can achieve this regardless of your age or background knowledge.

At the heart of the robot is an Arduino. You can program its firmware to talk to the Wi-Fi module that comes with the kit. With it, the robot can receive commands over your wireless network and control the motors. Additional parts included in the kit are a printed circuit board, breadboard, wheels, battery holder, cable, terminal blocks, jumpers and more.

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Looking ahead, other projects you could receive range from drones, to alarm clocks, to LED cubes, to light control devices for your home. If monthly shipments are too frequent, or you just want to try the first kit out, Thimble can deliver kits whenever you’d like them instead.

Ready to jumpstart your future as a Maker? Head over to the Thimble Kickstarter page, where David, Oscar and the team are seeking $25,000. You can expect to start building and tinkering when the first batch of units goes out for delivery on April 2016.

The world’s first solar-powered DIY airplane kit


Volta Flyer is the handmade airplane you wish you had when you were a kid!


Remember making paper airplanes as a child, and the fleeting moment of gratification when the plane successfully glides, even for just a few seconds? Did you ever wish for your paper airplane to fly longer, and go wherever you wanted it to? Well, children in this day in age may never have to experience that problem. Meet Volta Flyer, the first DIY airplane kit that is powered by the sun.

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Volta Flyer is the latest creation by ToyLabs, a company founded by Tim Curley, who was inspired to develop practical hands-on science education projects for his two kids. With Volta Flyer, youngsters will learn about basic mechanical engineering, aeronautics, electronics and renewable energy while building their planes and ensuring the perfect flight. The kit comes with prefabricated parts, detailed instructions and a tutorial on aeronautics and electronic design. Unlike any other airplane kit, the Volta Flyer has solar “panel-on-wing assembly” technology and unique power management system that powers flights without the need for batteries. By harnessing the sun’s energy, combined with its lightweight construction, the Volta Flyer possesses incredible flight time.

Assembly is as easy as constructing the paper airplane of yesterday. It can be built by hand in as little as 20 minutes without the need for special tools or glues. Kids can even personalize their Volta Flyer with decals and logos included with the kit. After constructing their plane, simply charge the Volta Flyer by pointing the solar panel wings towards the sun for 90 seconds, flip a switch to initiate propulsion, and then hand-launching the Flyer in the air. Students can even track flight times and paths and compare the results!

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The Flyer is a major upgrade from the single sheet paper airplane and earlier glider plane sets. It comes with fuselage and electronic components, such as a printed circuit board, a resister diode, a 47mm propeller, and more. It is powered by a thin-film solar panel that operates at 4.8 voltages, a 100 current and 0.48 wattage. The airframe materials are eco-friendly depron wings and vertical stabilizers, as well as polystyrene wing joiners. The Volta Flyer is definitely a cool science project that involves practical insights and engagement with STEM.

Ready to take flight with the Volta Flyer? Soar on over to its Kickstarter campaign, where Curley and the ToyLabs crew is currently seeking $39,000. If all goes to plan, kits are expected to ship in March 2016.

35 GIFs that perfectly express your feelings about Maker Faire


Happy Maker Week! 


With Maker Week now underway, Atmel is getting ready to take center stage at the Maker Faire New York on September 26-27th. Undoubtedly, this year will yet again be amazing as an expected 830+ Makers and 85,000+ attendees head to the New York Hall of Science to see the latest DIY gizmos and gadgets, as well as AVR Man in the flesh.

Once again a Silversmith Sponsor of the event, Atmel will be shining the spotlight on Arduino and a range of other Maker Movement-driven startups. Among the names you will find inside our booth include Arduboy, Keyboardio, Qtechknow, Microduino, Modulo, Zippy Robotics and Bosch. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to walk away with an Arduino shield and adapter board, along with some other flair.

Ah… there’s just so much to show and tell! And with the final countdown to Maker Faire on, what better way to capture and convey all those emotions than with these GIFs?

When you realize that Maker Faire is only days away.

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When you wake up on the morning of the show.

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When you get stuck in traffic en route to the New York Hall of Science.

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When you spot the faire grounds entrance in the distance.

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When you finally make it through the ticket line and entry gate.

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When Arduino announces a new Atmel powered board.

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When you see a 3D printer in action for the very first time.

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When someone stops by your demo.

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When people can’t stop talking about your project.

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When you are given free sample kits.

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When you realize there’s just so much to see. Where to even begin?

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When you spot Massimo Banzi.

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When… wait a minute… is that AVR Man?

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When you come across a life-sized game of Mouse Trap.

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When you proudly show off your new swag.

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When you see a fellow Maker dressed in Steampunk.

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When you’re inspired to go launch a Kickstarter campaign.

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When you appear in MAKE: Magazine.

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When you receive an Editor’s Choice Ribbon.

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When you realize the end of the day is near.

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When you remember there’s still Sunday.

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When you’re surprised by the heat of a 69-foot-tall fire-breathing dragon.

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When you can’t take your eyes off of the Coke Zero and Mentos demo.

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When you arrive at the unbelievably long line for lunch.

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When you can’t pronounce a project’s name.

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When you prepare to do battle in the Game of Drones.

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When you control an object with your mind.

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When you learn a eight-year-old was the mastermind behind that project.

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When the “State of Arduino” address is about to begin.

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When you meet new Maker friends.

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When the Power Racing Series brings your Mario Kart dream to life.

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When a panel discussion sparks your curiosity.

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When you find out that an Atmel chip is inside that gadget.

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When you realize that Maker Faire is really coming to an end.

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When you finally get home after an eventful weekend of making.

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See you all in New York! For those unable to attend, don’t fret. Simply follow @Atmel on Twitter for all the latest happenings from the Faire. We’ll even be streaming some of it live to you via Periscope Fairescope!

This Arduino-powered device is the purr-fect cat sitter


If a cat hops onto something it’s not supposed to, this gadget will express your disapproval.


When the owners are away, the cats will play. If you’re the owner of a feline, then you’re well aware that it’s nearly impossible to keep your furry friend under control while you’re out and about. As a way to solve this common conundrum, a Maker by the name of “Lucky Resistor” has devised a small gadget — which he calls The Cat Protector — capable of detecting movements in projected areas, like tables and counters, and then expressing disapproval with your usual phrases in your own voice. 

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In order to bring this purr-fect creation to life, Lucky Resistor employed an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) to serve as the brains of the gizmo, along with an Adafruit data logging shield, a Panasonic motion sensor, a small speaker, a dual-color LED, various resistors and capacitors, a small SDcard, a low voltage power amplifier and a DAC chip.

“I started with a prototype, using an Arduino Uno and a large breadboard. The first step was to realize an acceptable sound output. To realize this I added a shield with SD card adapter and wrote some optimized code to stream sound from the SD card in 22.1kHz using a 12bit DAC,” the Maker explains.

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“The amplification to a speaker completed this part of the project where I have two solutions. Next, I experimented with different motion sensors to detect the motion of the cat and finished the hardware part using a dual color LED for a simple status display.”

After successfully testing the prototype, Lucky Resister went on to develop his final product. Creating a compact device was a challenge, as the casing needed to be tidy and simple yet large enough to fit the battery pack, controller, speaker, LED and sensor. (The Maker spells out the entire process here.)

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He began with the LED and sensor, and placed them on small stripboards with the resistors. From there, he added a flat cable ending in crimp connectors. After drilling the required holes in the casing, he fixed the boards with the LED and sensor inside. With the circuit board fastened to the bottom of the enclosure, Lucky Resistor soldered the circuits to the shield and connected the shield and rechargeable battery.

“The device was now ready to put into use. I can place it on protected areas like tables or shelves and enable it while I am out of the house. I just have to make sure the sensor area is covering just the protected area and not e.g. the floor. Sometimes it is necessary to put a cup or something in front of the device to reduce the sensor coverage,” he concludes.

Have a cat you’d like to keep under control as you run your errands? Head over to its step-by-step breakdown to get started.

Build yourself a GEMMA-powered buzzing mindfulness bracelet


Inspired by the Apple Watch’s Stand Reminder, Adafruit’s latest wearable project lets you know when it’s time to step away from your desk. 


If you’re like nearly 90% of employees in America, you sit all day for your job. Add to that the time you spend on the couch after work watching TV, reading, playing video games and surfing the web, that’s an approximate total of 13 hours spent each day in a chair of some sort. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little reminder letting us know to take a short break from time to time? That was the idea behind Becky Stern of Adafruit’s latest project: a buzzing mindfulness bracelet.

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Powered by the one and only GEMMA (ATtiny85), the band emits subtle haptic feedback as the day progresses, offering a helpful hint to get off your rear and step away from the desk — even for just a few moments.

All too often, we get to the office, start working to look up and find that it’s already five o’clock. Where did the day go? Inspired by the Apple Watch’s Stand Reminder feature but at a mere fraction of the cost, this DIY project enables users to literally feel the passage of time, or at least “have a new awareness of how the perception of passing time varies based on what they’re doing.”

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The wearable is comprised of a vibrating motor circuit, which includes a transistor, a resistor and a diode, along with a GEMMA to control the frequency of vibrations. The circuit itself is housed inside a linked bracelet, however as Stern notes, it can be embedded into pretty much anything such as the rubber from a bicycle’s inner tube.

This bracelet is created out of folded figure-8 shapes cut from leather, along with a pair of elongated tabs for its closure. Once the GEMMA is inserted into its resting place, a small hole is poked to make room for the resistor to fit through. From there, a Maker simply needs to solder the electronic components among the loops of the bracelet and voilà!

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A user must then plug in the ATtiny85 powered board over USB to load up the code and adjust the timing intervals based on their haptic preference. In this case, the time interval is set to one hour, but can be modified by the user. Although the times are stored in milliseconds, the design does use the tinyAVR’s Watchdog Timer (WDT) to conserve power. What’s also nice is that, since it spends most of the day in sleep mode, the battery lasts for quite a while.

Looking to become more mindful as to how you spend your days? Head over to Adafruit’s step-by-step tutorial here to get started.

Project Jarvis is your very own Tony Stark-like home automation system


This A.I. assistant can make smart decisions based on environmental factors.


A Maker by the name of IamTeknik once again has his sights set on the Hackaday Prize crown with the latest iteration of Project Jarvis, an affordable, Arduino-powered home automation system. Inspired by Iron Man’s A.I. assistant, the DIY solution is capable of controlling nearly every aspect of a modern-day house, while helping save on electricity. Great for you, your wallet and your environment, it’s no wonder the hacker’s artificial intelligence-based system was named a semi-finalist in last year’s Hackaday contest.

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As the world around us becomes increasingly connected, this environmental home manager can make even the ‘dumbest’ of houses smart. Not only can the system help save energy and reduce monthly bills, IamTeknik says his project can lend a helping hand in a number of daily tasks. These include fetching a coffee in the morning, waking you up with the weather forecast or keeping you company when alone. Having trouble with some homework or just too lazy to go hit the light switch? Lucky for you, Jarvis can solve complex math problems and command home lighting through verbal cues — all for under $200.

“It’s all driven by sophisticated hardware and software to help make your life, and the life of others, much better,” the Maker notes. What’s more, Jarvis can handle reading notifications, SMS messages and social network feeds, and can go as far as replying to each of them if told what to write through its built-in speech-to-text technology.

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“This is present on the mobile and computer apps but the Android app can even use text if you are not in the mood to speak. If you have speakers and microphones set-up in you house or room, Jarvis is accessible simply by saying his name at any time,” IamTeknik adds.

Aside from being controlled via voice recognition, its accompanying computer app works on Linux, Mac, Windows and Solaris, and can be configured for remote access. According to the Maker, he has already embedded NFC technology into the solution and is currently working on employing gesture recognition, too. This way, a homeowner can have Jarvis perform an action by tapping a smartphone to a tag or waving a hand.

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In order to be both energy and cost-effective, electricity usage from each room is logged by an SD card on an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560). The code on the board interacts with a more complex neural network, which has been programmed in a separate application. Using the environment and its sensors, its software can then make intelligent decisions to help beat the current month’s data that is still on the SD card.

“You don’t need to pull out your phone and ask Jarvis to do something, he is always there. Jarvis is wherever you are, in the home, office and in your pocket if you use our Android mobile app.”

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Jarvis can also manage a home’s infrastructure in order to ensure environmental efficiency. Say for instance a light is left on or a charger is left plugged in, Jarvis can sense this and turn off the device, thus lowering the home’s energy consumption. Tired of having to turn back around to make sure you turned off the stove? With Project Jarvis, just log in to the app and switch ’em off manually — or let the system do it automatically.

Jarvis truly is the next step in home automation. When watching an Iron Man movie, you can’t help but wonder what it would be like to have a personal assistant like Tony Stark’s. And thanks to projects like this one, the omnipresent virtual assistant is inching closer and closer to reality.

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When complete, Jarvis will feature a fingerprint scanner, an automated door lock and a wall-mounted tablet. With plenty of parts still in development, the Maker has rendered a black box that will house all of the system’s wireless transceivers and hardware. Moving ahead, he hopes to incorporate sensors that track sleep patterns and monitor temperature, humidity and light. Intrigued by this futuristic project? Head over to its official Hackaday.io page here for a more detailed breakdown of the build.