Tag Archives: Mashable

Maker swallows a smart pill to track data

“We’re building a computer inside a tablet, basically.”

Melbourne-based Maker Chris Koch has taken wearable ingestible technology to a whole ‘nother by swallowing an embedded tablet (35mm x 18mm) in an effort to prove that data can be sent anywhere – even to someone’s gastrointestinal tract.

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Snepo, an interactive software company, are the ones behind the chip which houses an SoC by RFdigital that includes a Bluetooth low energy component and processor. The pill-like device also features an Atmel based Arduino board encased in polyurethane.

Writing for MashableJenni Ryall reveals that the chip is equipped with 32MB of memory as well as other electronic components to extend its battery life.

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Koch and his business partner, Chad Stephens, recently developed the Pop! app, which provides seamless ways for users to exchange and update their data, all whole being in total control of their information. In an attempt to promote the company, Koch is looking to eradicate people’s fear of data.

“Pop! doesn’t own your data, it is simply stored on your phone within the app and can be wiped in a second’s notice through the company’s website. The app also helps you keep your details up to date with businesses you deal with, such as your bank or telephone company, so that your mail isn’t going to five of your last rental addresses,” Mashable writes.

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Pop! is what Koch describes as “autofill on steroids.” The app is a personal data wallet, protected by a PIN code and secured using military-grade encryption, that enables users to auto-fill online forms with one click while also keeping track of what companies and websites have access to that data.

“It is about being able to send your data to any location, and know exactly where it is gone,” Koch told Mashable.

When planning the promotion, the guys posed the question, “What is the most obscure place you could send you information and still know what you gave and where it is?” The answer? “Inside me,” of course.

The tablet ingestion is all part of a recently-announced competition from Pop!, whose contestants’ data gets transmitted to the tablet inside of Koch — which can be watched via live stream as the tablet makes its way through his body.

In terms of safety, it should be noted that his physician did not recommend the stunt, and claimed that there is a 5% chance the tablet could get stuck on its journey through the body.

Mashable reported that Koch underwent an X-ray and examination, allowing users to locate the whereabouts of the tablet holding their data and to more importunity, ensure it (and Koch) remain safe.

Those interested in learning more can head over to the company’s official website or follow along with the live feed here.

ADT teams up with IFTTT to customize home security

With the smart home market prepared to surge, home security leader ADT has fostered a new partnership with web automation service If This Then That (IFTTT).

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ADT Pulse, the company’s existing automation service, will now include the capability for users to communicate with the hundreds of channels controllable by IFTTT. According to Mashable, this new partnership will allow developers and users to create recipes that work with door locks, thermostats, lights, cameras, appliances, and the main security system.

“We like to think of it like Lego pieces — you can make whatever you want out of it,” Arthur Orduna, ADT Chief Innovation Officer tells Mashable. “We are trying to be really cognizant of how people consume things today and do everything we can to make everything on demand.”

The newfound IFTTT integration will open up new opportunities for consumers such as receiving a live feed of their doorstep as the doorbell rings. With countless possible command “recipes,” ADT hopes users will have a simplified, personalized experience. Some of these proposed IFTTT recipes suggested by ADT include:

  • If a wearable changes from “sleep” to “awake,” then disarm the ADT Pulse security system.
  • If phone alarm goes off at 6:45 a.m., then turn on the ADT Pulse-connected coffee machine.
  • If Life360® family members are away from home, then lock ADT Pulse-connected doors and arm ADT Pulse security system “away.”
  • If the temperature outside is above 85 degrees, then change an ADT Pulse-connected thermostat to 70 degrees.
  • If a user texts “DogDoor”, then unlock the ADT Pulse-connected back door.
  • If the doorbell rings, then send me an ADT Pulse real-time video clip of the front door.
  • If the sun sets, then turn on ADT Pulse-connected outdoor lights.

While a customizable experience is highly desirable for home security users, there are inherent risks of opening a secure platform to countless new applications. With countless applications having access to a home’s security measures, there is undoubtedly a reason to be concerned about possible hacking.

Writing for CNETRy Cris relayed these concerns to ADT, which revealed that the team is promising to take things slow. “Exposing an existing home security system to so many new devices at once could potentially expose it to new vulnerabilities, however. If a third-party device that’s capable of turning the alarm off through IFTTT is easily hacked, for instance, that’s a real problem.”

“By integrating with IFTTT, ADT suddenly becomes compatible with dozens of new Web tools and third-party connected gadgets. It’s potentially, a very savvy defensive play, as small-scale, forward-thinking security startups with an eye on automation seem to be gaining traction,” Cris adds.

The new IFTTT channel will go through several months of beta testing before ADT opens it up to the public next year. At that point, the group aspires to have accounted for any possible security breaches.

Speaking of simplifying home programming with IFTTT, a team of computer science researchers from Brown and Carnegie Mellon universities recently adapted a method of programming known as “trigger-action” to more effectively communicate with IoT smart home devices.

Philips Hue Lights react to ‘Sharknado 2’

Last year, Sharknado quickly emerged as one of, if not, the most buzzed about B movies of all-time. The premise of the 2013 made-for-television disaster film was centered around a waterspout that hoovers up thousands of hungry sharks from the Pacific Ocean, only to deposit them onto the shore to feast on hapless residents of Greater Los Angeles. Whether good or bad, one thing is for certain: you can’t deny the entertainment value of the film.

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Well, it appears that entertainment value will be enhanced once more, as Sharknado 2 (set to premiere on Wednesday, July 30th) will mark the first time a TV show will have the ability to directly control your room lighting. To tackle this feat, Syfy is partnering with Philips to create a lighting soundtrack, or “light track,” for the company’s Hue-connected LED lights. The entire sequel is choreographed so that the lights will dim, brighten and change color, contingent upon what’s happening on the screen.

“For instance, a sequence in the movie involves a plane flying through a storm. When lightning strikes, the lights flicker and brighten suddenly, and if you have multiple lights — the Hue line offers bulbs, lamps and even light strips — you’ll see some variation in the colors, too,” Mashable explains.

The Syfy Sync app will bring this whole experience to life. The app, which typically brings the viewer second-screen information, uses audio tagging to identify what the viewer is watching, delivering the right content at the right moment. Now with Philips onboard, the integration will be taken to an entirely different level. Viewers will have the option to select lights individually, so if your whole home is wired with Philips Hue, you can limit the effects to just the family room.

Mashable’s Pete Pachal notes, “Shark-influenced lighting might not be the Internet of Things application we need, but if Twitter has any say, it’s the Internet of Things application we deserve.”

In case you missed it, earlier in the year Atmel’s Magnus Pedersen talked about IoT, Philips Hue and some of his favorite applications.

Selfie toast, anyone?

Let’s face it, the act of taking photos of oneself has never been as ubiquitous as it is today. From mirrors to drones, you’ve probably thought you had seen just about everything when it comes to snapping a quick selfie. Think again.

No strangers to image-burning toasters, Vermont Novelty Toaster Corporation has debuted what they call ’selfie toast.’ Designed using custom toasters that slightly burn a person’s face onto a piece of bread, the news has spread faster than butter on toast. The company starts by transforming the customer’s high resolution photo into a metal plate with the help of Photoshop and a CNC plasma cutter. The plate is then fitted into a special toaster for the final toasting effect.

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CEO Galen Dively had always dreamt of making truly customized designs, including one that would send one’s etched face to the breakfast table. Until recently, it was an impractical dream.

So, just how does one go about getting his or her own piece of selfie toast? Mashable breaks down the process:

1. Start by uploading a digital photo onto the Vermont Toaster site.

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2. The edited photo goes to CAD, which figures out what cut lines the CNC plasma machine needs to make.

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3. The information is then sent to the CNC machine which uses a combination of compressed air and electricity to create high-heat plasma and blaze its way through metal.

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4. Vermont Novelty then polishes all the rough edges off the plate with a hand sander.

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5. The finished plates are put in custom-designed toasters that feature special rails to support each plate. The toaster makes two slices and each slice gets one selfie face.

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Not in the mood for toast? You can always print your pancake with the open-source PancakeBot, which makes elaborate pancake designs, including portraits (like that of President Barack Obama at the White House Maker Faire). The latest iteration of the platform – which debuted at Maker Faire Bay Area 2014 – comprises an acrylic body packed with Adafruit motor shields, an Arduino Mega (ATmega1280 MCU), two stepper motors, a pair of belt drives and a vacuum pump.

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Mashable says everyone is a Maker

Writing for Mashable, Lauren Drell says we’re in the midst of a new Industrial Revolution, and it’s all thanks to 3D printing. According to Drell, the Atmel-powered MakerBot is the household name looking to get 3D-printers into the hands of the masses, with 13,000 MakerBot Replicator 2 machines currently in the wild.

“It’s a new way of designing and creating and manufacturing,” MakerBot Founder Bre Pettis, who started his career as a teacher, told the widely read publication. 

Pettis said that since he always emphasized empowering his students through creativity, education and learning are naturally “built into the DNA of MakerBot.”

“I’ve always been a tinkerer. And it’s the holy grail for tinkerers to be able to make something that makes things,” said Pettis.

The Atmel-powered MakerBot Replicator 2 uses additive manufacturing to 3D-print objects, one 100-micron layer at a time. In addition, MakerBot machines are designed to use PLA filament, a plastic-like filament that won’t peel, crack or curl. The filament is available in 23 colors and a number of finishes, including translucent and metallic.

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, IDC analysts recently confirmed that 3D printing is “on the verge” of mainstream adoption as businesses begin to recognize and embrace the product manufacturing benefits of the technology. 

According to Keith Kmetz, IDC VP, Imaging, Printing and Document Solutions, the worldwide 3D printer market will experience tremendous unit and revenue growth from 2012 to 2017, with compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) of 59% and 29%, respectively.

“Print is extending beyond output on media to the creation of an actual object, and that presents incredible opportunity,” said Kmetz. “While traditional print technologies are facing maturity, 3D printers will see worldwide unit shipments grow by 10 times over the forecast period, and worldwide hardware value will more than double in the short term.”

As Kmetz confirms, the fast-paced evolution of 3D printing has moved well beyond early adopters and hobbyists, with the technology now being utilized regularly in business applications where substantial cost and time-to-market benefits are gained. In addition to general manufacturing/R&D applications, 3D printing tech is also finding sweet spots in aerospace, automotive, education, dental, jewelry, medical and recreation vertical industries.

Clearly, the meteoric rise of 3D printing has paved the way for a new generation of Internet entrepreneurs, Makers and do-it-yourself (DIY) manufacturers. So it comes as little surprise that the lucrative 3D printing industry remains on track to be worth a staggering $3 billion by 2016 – and $8.41 billion by 2020.

12-year-old Rohan Agrawal builds robots

12-year-old Rohan Agrawal is a young Maker who builds robots and tinkers with Atmel-based Arduino boards. According to Mashable, Agrawal spent the last few months at OLogic, a company that has designed robots for both Google and Disney. While there for a summer internship, Agrawal built a ‘bot capable of autonomously delivering bags of potato chips throughout the office.

“I’m self taught,” Agrawal told the publication. “My mom showed me Google once and I was really fascinated by it. I asked her how it works and she told me you use this thing called HTML.”

Agrawal coded his first website by the age of 5, tackled ham radio at 9, joined the Hacker Dojo at 10 and began experimenting with Arduino boards. Soon the young Maker was building small robots boasting basic autonomous capabilities.

“That’s how I got the idea for the autonomous [potato] chip robots,” he said.

“All you have to do is type in a command and it runs a program so it will automatically drive around and randomly select an audience. I’m working on getting it to see if there’s anybody in the room. If there isn’t, it will leave and won’t wait.”

Agrawal is now back at work in his mini-studio, a converted garage with a soldering iron and various electronic items. When he’s not at the studio, the 12-year-old Maker is mentoring others at the Hacker Dojo.

Agrawal’s advice to other young DIY Makers and aspiring engineers?

“If you’re interested in something, don’t be scared to get into it.”

We at Atmel couldn’t agree more couldn’t agree more.

How Touchscreens Have Evolved….and Where They Are Heading

Interesting piece from Mashable about the history of touchscreens. For sure, touchscreens are part of our everyday lives now. Toddlers are growing up adept at using their fingertips to apply commands.

How do you think touchscreens will continue to evolve?