LittleBits

Internet of Things

Hack Day

at The Guild

This was our very first attempt at running a hack day, poorly chosen over the Easter holidays so a lot of people couldn’t make it!

Undeterred, people began working in two groups to create their own Internet enabled umbrella stand. The goal of which was to get a cloudBit, a littleBit that you can program over the Internet, to connect to Yahoo’s weather forecast, check what the weather was going to be, and light up the umbrella stand if it was supposed to rain. Thus reminding you to take your umbrella out with you.

The boys successfully made their project using nodejs, which is just JavaScript that can run on the desktop without a web browser. They then extended their project to also check the outside temperature, and indicate it using a bargraph piece. This could help people chose how many layers of coats and hats before heading out!

We managed to demonstrate sending and receiving data over the Internet using the cloud control interface. For example pushing the button on the computer screen would light up the bargraph connected to the cloudBit. We also demonstrated that pushing harder on the pressure sensor littleBit, swung the input indicator on the computer screen.

We explained that although the cloudBit is connected to the computer, it’s only doing that for power. The actual data travels up through Internet! And this is how almost all of the Internet of Things type devices work.

As the day wore on we also experimented with a new app called Hopscotch, which can be used to teach programming principles. Whereas Scratch is awesome for people using a desktop, Hopscotch is optomised for a tablet and even allows children to play with some of the sensors the iPad can use. For example we turned our iPads into our very own etch-a-sketch which drew lines when we tilted the iPad in different angles, and cleared our drawing when we shook the tablet.

Finally as the day was rounding up, the two girls made their own video of the days events using an iPad and iMovie. They used a combination of different cut scenes and animations to demonstrate many of the things they and others had done. Which succinctly demonstrated they had learned how the Internet of Things actually worked!

We’re hoping to run a couple more of these sorts of events over the coming weeks. If you or you know someone who would be interested in signing up, you can watch our event listings here : http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/danielle-emma-vass-8014113835