Tag Archives: Temboo

Have your Arduino let you know when your package arrives

How to program your Arduino to query the FedEx API every time someone comes to your door in order to determine whether that person was delivering a package.

If you’re expecting a package, and can’t be bothered to go to the door to actually check and see who is bothering you, Adafruit has your solution. That’s because they’ve developed a guide, which will teach you “how to program your Arduino to query the FedEx API every time someone comes to your door in order to determine whether that person was delivering a package. Then, you’ll program the board to use the Zendesk API to alert you if a package was delivered.”


Physically, this task is fairly straightforward, involving only an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) with a Wi-Fi shield (AT32UC3) for communication, and an infrared sensor to detect whether or not someone is at your door. Setting up the software, as you might suspect, is somewhat more involved, including getting a Temboo account, a Zendesk account, and obtaining FedEx developer keys.

If you’re thinking about doing this project, it’s much easier to obtain the FedEx keys than you might suspect, and what you need to do to set everything up is laid out in a step-by-step procedure. On the other hand, if you’re expecting something from UPS or the U.S. Postal Service, you might still need to actually go to the door and see what it is. Besides, you’ll have to get the package eventually!

For another idea on how to interface devices in your house with the Internet, why not check out this Amazon Echo controlled wheelchair experiment?

Sending messages with an Arduino-based telegraph

In an effort to explore old-school ways of communication, one Maker designed his own telegraph system using Temboo.

Developed in the 1830s and 1840s by Samuel Morse, the telegraph revolutionized long-distance communication by transmitting electrical signals over a wire laid between a pair stations. Aside from contributing to its invention, Morse would go on to create a code that assigned a set of dots and dashes to each letter of the English alphabet, allowing for a simple transmission of complex messages across these telegraph lines. Nowadays, modern communication systems have become so advanced that we rarely pause to consider how they work, let alone its history — conversing with someone hundreds or even thousands of miles away is, for many, now a daily occurrence.


For his systems design course at California College of the Arts, Maker Noam Zomerfeld decided to delve deeper into the technological complexities that lie beneath communication systems in an effort to better understand and present the ways in which their different elements interact. To do it, he designed and built his own system using Temboo.

As the foundation for his exploration, Zomerfeld constructed a rudimentary telegraph using a piece of wood, a nail, two batteries and a wire. Along with a classmate, he also designed an alternative to Morse code to use with his device. This system was incrementally more complex: first, he added an Arduino that would translate strings of text inputted by users into his telegraph code, and then he brought in Temboo’s Twilio Choreos to enable users to provide their inputs via SMS.


How it works is pretty straightforward: Viewers of the application can send a text to the Maker’s Twilio number, and the Arduino attached to his telegraph will check the Twilio message queue every few seconds for incoming messages. Upon receiving a new memo, the device will translate it into Noam’s code, which assigns each letter of the alphabet a unique sequence of between three and nine taps. From there, the telegraph taps out the encoded message, and whoever receives it can decode and transcribe it based on a key that Zomerfeld provides.

Pretty cool, right? Big thanks to our friends at Temboo for the heads up!

Photos: Atmel @ Maker Faire Bay Area 2015

And just like that, another flagship Maker Faire event has come to an end.

From life-sized humanoids and stair-climbing robots to pancake printers and drum-playing pants, Maker Faire Bay Area 2015 had it all. Over the weekend, tinkerers, modders and hackers of all ages and skills flocked a jam-packed Atmel booth, which showcased a number of uber-cool demos under this year’s theme “From Makerspace to Makerplace.” Among those on display included 14-year-old Quin Etnyre, DrumPants, Zymbit, littleBits, Zippy Robotics, Primo and of course the heart of the Maker community, Arduino. When it came to gizmos and gadgets driven by versatile 8- and 32-bit AVR and Atmel | SMART MCUs, it didn’t stop within our exhibit. In fact, countless other DIYers throughout the fairegrounds proudly showed off their embedded projects as well.

Here’s a look back at the two-day show (and tell) in photos…


























































Giving the elderly independence with Temboo and Arduino

Watch as the Temboo team explores how the IoT might allow older people to retain independence with a choice to keep family informed as needed.

As America’s population of retirees grows, as does the number of citizens over the age of 65 making decisions as to where to spend their retirement funds. Advances in healthy living have enabled people to remain active well into their senior years, and according to a recent AARP survey, 87% of retired adults would prefer to remain in their homes or communities as they age. In their latest episode of Deconstructing IoT video series, the Temboo team explores how the Internet of Things (IoT) can help our elders retain their independence, all while still keeping their families informed


To do so, the Temboo team built an application that employs an Arduino Yún (ATmega32U4), a microphone, and a motion sensor to monitor an independent retiree who is living alone, and then logs activity data to a Microsoft Power PI database using Temboo so that family members can make sure that nothing is amiss. Should something go wrong, Temboo’s PagerDuty and Nexmo Choreos allows for alerts to be immediately sent to loved ones.

How it works is as follows: The Yún streams movement data from the motion sensor to Power BI. If that data is anomalous, it will trigger a PagerDuty alert that can be transmitted to family members or caregivers. The Yún also monitors and listens for cries for help using its attached mic, and if triggered, will send dispatch an SMS alert using Nexmo.


For those who’ve lived through the late ‘80s and ‘90s, you have surely seen those Life Alert commercials with Mrs. Fletcher yelling, “Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” Since then, there have been numerous attempts to develop solutions geared towards providing the elderly real-time support in the event of an emergency, especially when they’re unable to reach a phone. As we enter an era of constant connectivity, applications like this one from Temboo can certainly play an integral role giving our seniors their independence while giving loved ones a peace of mind.

Watch the video below for a step-by-step breakdown of the project!

Take control of your IoT data with Temboo Streaming

IoT programming platform Temboo just introduced Streaming, a simple way to send sensor data to the cloud service of your choice.

Internet of Things programming platform Temboo recently debuted Streaming, a simple way to send sensor data to the cloud service of your choice. Streaming allows developers to visually wire sensors to the cloud on Temboo’s website where all the necessary code is dynamically generated within the browser. Once a Streaming application is running, it’s easy to switch where the data is being sent — with no hardware or software updates required.


Temboo is one of the first IoT platforms to forgo building its own sensor data storage solution in favor of giving developers options. Through its close integration with Microsoft Power BI, Streaming provides access to Microsoft’s cloud platform that combines data storage with data visualization, where IoT developers can view their sensor readings in real-time graphs.

“It’s very important to us that people who are working with Temboo are able to choose the tools and services that they want to work with,” explains Trisala Chandaria, co-founder Temboo. “By keeping Streaming open, we think we’ve kept the value front and center in IoT Mode.”


Streaming is also launching with support for Google’s BigQuery platform and can be used to program a wide range of Atmel based Arduino boards. The team notes that added support for other data services and hardware devices will be coming soon.

“We increasingly live in a world in which everything emits data, presenting new and exciting opportunities for those who can harness it,” adds James Phillips, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Power BI. “Temboo Platform users can now stream data directly into Microsoft Power BI where it can be visualized and monitored in real-time, and analyzed using rich visual and natural language exploration capabilities.”


Streaming is ideally suited for building an assortment of IoT applications at any scale, from a water usage monitor that logs household water consumption to an urban traffic sensor network that enables policymakers to make informed decisions about how to decrease congestion.

Sound interesting? Head over to its official page here to learn more.

Building an IoT app for vertical farmers with Temboo

Watch as the Temboo team reveals how a smart architecture app can be used to improve urban agriculture. 

With urban populations expected to continue rising for the foreseeable future, this will lead to an increase in demand for access to nutritious food in cities. As recent Maker projects have demonstrated, not only does urban farming offer an ideal alternative to satisfy this demand, it has a number of additional benefits as well. For instance, growing food locally minimizes carbon footprint, serves as a source of income generation, and provides employment opportunities in the community.

TEmboo 3

Limited space, high pollution and variable access to light can make urban agriculture a challenge, however. In a recent episode of their Deconstructing IoT video series, the Temboo team created a smart architecture app to show how vertical farming could be integrated into the built landscape to overcome these obstacles. In doing so, they were able to control the delivery of natural and artificial light to their crops using the Nexmo API, and then base their decisions on UV and weather forecast information from EnviroFacts and Yahoo Weather.

In order to make this project possible, Temboo employed an Arduino Yún (ATmega32U4), a light or temperature sensor, two transistors, switchable glass, a little wiring, a breadboard, and some artificial light. How does the system work, you ask? As soon as the sensor detects suboptimal growing conditions around the plant, it triggers a phone call alert using the Nexmo Voice CaptureTextToSpeechPrompt Choreo. This notification can give a user the option of either turning on an artificial light source or shading their plant with switchable glass. In order to help make that decision, a call alert can also be configured to offer real-time UV and weather information, which is obtained using the EnviroFacts UVForecast HourlyUVByZipcode and Yahoo Weather GetWeatherByAddress Choreos. From there, they would simply have to press a number key to make the glass opaque and turn on the lights.

Temboo 2

What’s more, the app can extend its capabilities to include ideal growing conditions based on plant species, email notifications, real-time memos for ready-to-be-picked crops, and even mobile payments via Stripe. With spring officially here, the timing couldn’t be better to get started! You can watch the entire episode of Destructing IoT below for a step-by-step breakdown of the build, as well as find each of the aforementioned Choreos on the Temboo website.

Twitter Mood Lamp visualizes the mood of Denver

This 3D-printed, Arduino-powered lamp changes colors to match the mood of Denver. 

Many people consider New York to be a busy metropolis filled with irritable and angry people. On the other hard, others find Los Angeles to be more laid-back. New Orleans, well several folks would say it’s rather festive and jovial. However, the mood of a place like Denver, Colorado is a bit harder to classify. That’s why Maker Chadwick Friedman has created a 3D-printed Twitter Mood Lamp that, as its name would imply, changes colors to match the attitude of the city.


Inspired by those mood rings from the ’70, Friedman decided to build a lamp that would actively respond to Twitter trends. The project itself is controlled by an Arduino Yún (ATmega32U4), which causes the device to emit either red, green, or blue based on whether the mood of the city is perceived to be angry, happy, or sad, respectively. The Maker employed the help of Temboo to capture and analyze the sentiment of Denver by searching for specific keywords that might indicate the emotional state of users via the Twitter API.

In order to limit this project to Denver, the Maker used the city’s latitude and longitude to restrict retrieved tweets to within a 12-mile radius. Friedman adds, “As they’re retrieved, these tweets are outputted onto the Arduino Yun’s serial monitor as well as classified under an emotional state. A running tally is kept of the mood and the lamp glows the color associated with the predominant mood. If its intended use is for an extended period of time, the tally can be enabled to forget tweets retrieved longer than an hour ago. Alternatively, it can scrape twitter at specified intervals and glow the mood associated with tweets only made it in that duration.”


Keep in mind, this isn’t the first time a Maker has creatively displayed the emotions of his or her area based on its social media users. In fact, one Maker recently illuminated the snow on his frontyard to reflect his town’s current mood, while a group of design students devised an interactive installation that literally painted the mood of their city. Intrigued by this IKEA-like, interactive lamp? You’ll want to watch it in action below!

This device lets you send encrypted messages using social networks

Project Cuckoo looks at our interactions with intercepted social networks and how alternative ways of communicating might change them.

A new project from one Berlin-based designer has set out to explore our interactions with intercepted social networks and how alternative ways of communicating might change them. Created by Jochen Maria Weber, Cuckoo is a device that uses social media as a means of private communication, and encrypts messages into randomly generated words, meanings and noise in order to scatter them over multiple networks simultaneously.


The idea was conceived back in 2011 after Icelandic politician and activist spokesperson Birgitta Jónsdóttir was notified by Twitter that it had been subpoenaed by the U.S. Department of Justice demanding information around all her tweets since November 2009.

“Heavy data collection, surveillance and control became normal and more important, increasingly legal on most internet communication platforms,”  Weber writes. “What if we used social networks but hiding our actual information? What if we could use their infrastructure without divulging privacy?”


With Cuckooeach letter of an original message is immediately translated into complex forms of certain length forming new sentences, which are then posted to their respective social channel, next to randomly generated noise-sentences for distraction. The device also enables the encryption method to be changed with every new message. Any receiving unit following the respective social network accounts can filter and decrypt the important posts according to their encryption method and timestamp. Cuckoo combines these social networks to build a hidden one on top of their infrastructure, or as the designer puts it, “an egg in the others’ nests.”


The project was brought to life using the combination of Arduino Yún (ATmega32U4) and Temboo, along with Twitter, Skype and Tumblr APIs. Interested in learning more? Head over to its official page here. Meanwhile, be sure to check it out in action below.

This installation makes it rain data from the cloud

Where is the cloud? What does it look like? And, what exactly is the big data that we store there?

Let’s face it, not a day goes by that you don’t hear words like “big data” and “the cloud.” These ambient terms have been immersed in our modern-day vocabulary, but in many ways these buzzphrases still remain distant and abstract. Jingwen Zhu, a Master’s student at NYU ITP, started asking herself those questions upon hearing various lecturers discussing how big data is affecting our lives. In an exploration as what big data in the cloud would actually look like if it were tangible, the Maker crafted her vision as an interactive data exhibition. The aptly dubbed Big Data Cloud obtains data from users, and gives the information data back to them.


“In this installation, people are not only encouraged to interact with the cloud, but also interact with the data,” Zhu explains. “In our daily life, we are interact with big data every day. We provide our data to the cloud, and get data back from it. Yet this repeated occurance falls to the background because we use big data so often that it goes unnoticed. By creating the Big Data Cloud, I provide people with a visible and tangible experience of interacting with big data, and let them to rethink about how big data affects our lives.”


How it works is simple: When a user comes under the cloud, a mobile device drops down from the cloud with a question displayed on the screen. Once the user types the answer to the question, the phone “uploads” the information back into the cloud. After some thunder and lightening, the cloud begins to “rain” just as it would in a summer night’s storm. However, the big data rain is in the form of a printed roll of paper with the users’ answers to the question instead. What’s more, the most frequently repeated words are also projected as “puddles” on the ground. Users can play either with the projected raindrops, or read all the answers on the receipt.

In order to make this concept to a reality, the Maker designed a 3D polygonal cloud comprised of folded paper to enclose her device and suspended it from the ceiling. Embedded within the paper cloud are a stepper motor connected to an ATmega328 board, a projector and a thermal printer.


The stepper motor coils the phone up and down from the cloud, while the mobile device itself is attached to a piece of fishing wire — this enables the phone to be drawn back up into the cloud. A Processing sketch using a Temboo Google Spreadsheets Choreo acquires the data that the user entered, which allows the newly-acquired data to be both projected onto the ground as at the user’s feet and printed from the thermal printer. Using  the program, Zhu was able to write the visual effect of the cloud and count the word frequency, before arranging and displaying the terms in different sizes. Meanwhile, an ultrasonic sensor within the printer can detect when someone puts their hand above it, thereby causing the machine to print the content, which of course, is decided by the distance.


When all is said and done, this impressive project is a great physical representation of how we send and retrieve data from “the cloud.” Interested in learning more? You can learn all about the project as well as access a step-by-step breakdown of the build here.

Building a Yún-powered weather station

The Arduino Yún – designed in collaboration with Dog Hunter – is based on Atmel’s popular ATMega32u4 microcontroller (MCU) and also features the Atheros AR9331, an SoC running Linino, a customized version of OpenWRT. The Yún is somewhat unique in the Arduino lineup, as it boasts a lightweight Linux distribution to complement the traditional microcontroller (MCU) interface.

The Atmel-powered Yún – which hit the streets late last year – has been used in a wide variety of Maker projects that we’ve recently covered on Bits & Pieces, including an electricity monitor, mesh extender platform, Foursquare soap bubble machine, a Gmail (alert) lamp, water heater regulator and Evil Alarm System.

Today, we’re going to be taking a look at how Marc-Olivier Schwartz built a cloud-connected weather station with the Yún. Aside from the Atmel-based board, key hardware specs include:

  • DHT11 (or DHT22) sensor and 4.7K resistor (for humidity)
BMP085 sensor on a simple breakout board/Adafruit BMP180 sensor board (for pressure and temperature)
  • Photocell with a 10K Ohm resistor (light level)
  • Breadboard + assorted male-male jumper wires

On the software side, Schwartz used the Arduino IDE, Temboo, DHT library, the BMP085/BMP180 library, unified sensor library and a Google Docs account for the collected data to be analyzed and stored.

“The hardware connections for this project are actually quite simple: we have to connect the DHT11 sensor and then the part responsible for the light level measurement with the photocell. First, connect the Arduino Yun +5V pin to the red rail on the breadboard and the ground pin to the blue rail,” Schwartz explained in a detailed Adafruit tutorial.

“Then, connect pin number 1 of the DHT11 sensor to the red rail on the breadboard and pin number 4 the blue rail. Also connect pin number 2 to pin number 8 of the Arduino Yún. To finish up with the DHT11 sensor, connect the 4.7k Ohm between pin number 1 and 2 of the sensor.”

Next up is the photocell.

“First place the cell in series with the 10k Ohm resistor on the breadboard. Then, connect the other end of the photocell to the red rail on the breadboard and the other end of the resistor to the ground. Finally, connect the common pin to the Arduino Yún’s analog pin A0,” Schwartz continued.

“For the BMP085 or BMP180 sensor, connect the VIN pin to the +5V, GND to Ground, SCL to Arduino Yún pin number 3 and SDA pin to Arduino Yún pin number 2.”

According to Schwartz, multiple Yún boards can be used in various parts of a single residence.

“You can also customize the email alert part: you can build more complex alerts based on the measured data, or set the project to email you the sensor data at a regular time interval,” he added.

Interested in learning more? You can check out Schwartz’s full Adafruit tutorial here.