Tag Archives: Purdue

IoT hits college campuses

Writing for EdTech Magazine, Tommy Peterson reports that students attending the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts will soon be able to use their smartphones to check whether washers are free in their dormitory laundry room.

As Ellen Keohane, the director of IT services at Holy Cross confrms, the campus is one of many where apps based on the Internet of Things (IoT) — are moving beyond their established role in facilities management and into classrooms, laboratories and student life.

“It’s interesting to think about the convergence of several trends, particularly the cloud and mobile app ­development, which are related,” Keohane explains. “We have an increasing variety of mobile devices with access to cloud-based information services. The possibilities seem endless.”

Eric Matson, associate professor and director of the Robotic Innovation, Commercialization and Education Research Center at Purdue University in West Lafayette, expressed similar sentiments.

Indeed, students already access the IoT through their smartphones, says Matson, and they expect their available network of connections to grow. Although the IoT promises to make enterprises more efficient, Matson emphasizes that bandwidth, security issues and the adoption of ­standards for machine-to-machine (M2M) communication must be ­addressed as the space grows.

“If we want to set high-level policy and let machines make lower-level decisions, we need to understand the machines, the network and the ­implications of the policies we make.”

Meanwhile, Sanjay Sarma, professor of mechanical engineering and ­director of digital learning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), says he believes security will improve as the IoT expands.

“It’s not as though the world is secure now. As more devices are connected, we’re going to be forced to recognize our vulnerabilities,” he adds.

The full text of “IoT Goes to College” by Tommy Peterson can be read on EdTech Magazine here.

Interested in learning more about the IoT? You can check out Atmel’s recent IoT SoMa panel on the subject here, Patrick Sullivan’s EELive! 2014 presentation here and our extensive Bits & Pieces IoT article archive here.

Domino Bot conquers BoilerMake Hackathon

Jack Schneider, Kevin Rockwell and Eric Rice, all juniors at Purdue’s College of Engineering, recently clinched first place in the BoilerMake Hackathon with the Arduino-powered Domino Bot.

According to Quentin Bullock of The Exponent, the trio has been competing in various hackathons since their sophomore year, with entries such as a mad lib type robot that processes vocal inputs and returns a complete sentence.

“The ideas just come out of nowhere, and you just sort of roll with one that seems doable,” Schneider told the publication.

This year, the initial idea behind the Domino Bot was to import an image, process it into basic lines and arrange dominoes in the same pattern.

“As we started working on the design, we quickly realized that the 36-hour time limit was not going to work with this idea,” Rice explained.

Instead, the team focused on basic command movements, such as lines and curves, which were processed on the robot’s on-board Atmel-based Arduino.

The base of the robot?

The Roomba, a popular circular robot used to vacuum homes.

“The Roomba is made for hobbyists to play around with,” noted Rockwell. “It has a programming environment within it that would wait for input from the Arduino.”

The dominoes were loaded using a cardboard magazine, keeping the items organized in a vertical column.

“We originally wanted to just dump a bucket of dominoes in; however, they kept on jamming,” said Rice.

“So we developed an Allen wrench attached to a servo that would load them one at a time. This pushed dominoes through in a organized manner, preventing them from jamming.”

Domino configuration was also assisted by a servo, which helped prevent the dominoes from tipping over.

“During the competition, the cardboard would deteriorate over time, so there (were) modifications that had to be made regularly,” said Rockwell.

Nevertheless, Rice and the others concurred that BoilerMaker was a great experience overall.

“It’s really nice to interact with companies while you’re working on a project. It’s better than a job fair where you just hand them a resume – and they either like it or they don’t,” he added.