The Internet of Things (IoT) came into sharper focus for me at a PADNUG meetup during a presentation from Jeremy Foster, a Microsoft developer evangelist. Jeremy connected a battery-operated toy monkey that clanged cymbals and made other noises to a standard relay and in turn to an Intel Edison system on a chip (SoC) running Linux and node.js. A simple node.js program listened for tweets with the #tweetmonkey hashtag, and activated the noisy monkey for two seconds in response to each. The audience enjoyed sending clever tweets that activated the monkey and showed up on the presentation screen. For more details, see Jeremy’s Tweet Monkey web page.
The demo drove home how easy it is to convert anything with an electric circuit into a client, a server, or both. Even for devices without electric circuits, it is increasingly easy to add sensors and actuators that take up little space and use very little power. The Intel Edison module is the size of an SD card and has a built-in WiFi adapter, and it is only one of several inexpensive SoC and microcontroller alternatives, although the demo required a USB power supply that was larger than the Edison module and the board on which it was mounted. Node.js, with its myriad free software packages available online, makes it incredibly simple to construct client or server software.
The IoT has the potential to transform everything in our world into a responsive information processor that can apply simple or complex logic as it reacts to electronic or environmental inputs. Enterprise, business and solution architects must prepare organizations for a future of pervasive computing.
How will this affect your work and your world? Please respond with your comments.