August 24, 2015
Throughout the summer, Kinoma’s Makers in Residence have been actively developing with Kinoma Create and KinomaJS. They have reached milestones with numerous projects that they are excited to share. Some of them are robust personal projects, and others are examples of Kinoma products used to prototype a larger idea.
Monster Match Gumball Machine
The Monster Match game first appeared at Maker Faire Bay Area, where it was met with great enthusiasm. Players would program their monster onto an NFC card at one Kinoma Create and a separate tablet, then play the matching game on the second Kinoma Create. With a successful match, the machine would dispense a gumball as a prize. However, this demo required an Internet connection and access to an HTML web page to pick your monster. Alice and Alex set out to streamline the project by redesigning the programmatic side of the game, removing the need for an Internet connection and the separate tablet for access to the selection page. They built the UI of the programmatic portion from the ground up to work with Adafruit’s PN532 NFC/RFID controller breakout board. Now, in addition to programming an NFC card with a monster, users can check to see how many tries they have left to win a gumball by placing their NFC card back on the reader. Also, if the user forgets which monster he or she has chosen, the monster will creep back into the screen as a reminder and the user can then continue confidently.
The Kinoma team brought a version of this game to Maker Faire Tokyo, where we substituted the gumball machine for a screen that displayed a photo of the player that was triggered by whether or not they matched the monster. Come see another version of Monster Match at Maker Faire New York in September. Want to make your own? Keep an eye out for an upcoming project page.
CoAP Tank and Controls
Another interactive demo in progress is the tank robot and its control system. Using Kinoma Create and serial communication, Tanisha, Alice, and John interacted an entirely new motor controller, the Sabertooth 2×5, with an existing robot kit. As proof of concept, they started with simple graphical controls based on Kinoma Create’s touch screen. Originally, they used HTTP to communicate between the tank robot and the controls, but the delay time was too great. They switched to CoAP, which proved to be way more responsive. Once they were able to get variable speed control with the software UI, they graduated to hardware controls. An early prototype of this control system consisted of two trim pots attached to cardboard handles and Kinoma Create through hot glue and duct tape. Next, they moved to metal panel-mount potentiometers and larger wooden poles to drive the robot and tell it how fast to move.
They then decided to design and laser cut 3D printed parts that will secure the levers to their respective potentiometers that could be mounted to an armchair. The armchair is outfitted with LED lights that react responsively to the direction the user points the lever. This project will be further developed by refining the details surrounding brackets and support structures.
drop: Smart Umbrella
Alistair started the smart umbrella handle to follow in the pursuit of IoT technology that seamlessly fits in our lives. He prototyped his idea with Kinoma Create and 3D printed parts. The current iteration is a proof of concept involving electroluminescent wire and PVC tubing to diffuse the light, all encased in a 3D printed umbrella handle.
In addition, Alex is working to interface the Wunderground weather API with Kinoma Create to support the drop Smart Umbrella project. This API can return a detailed forecast for the next week, including the given chance of precipitation per day. With this information, the drop Smart Umbrella can react accordingly, glowing if the precipitation exceeds a certain threshold and alerting the user to bring the umbrella along for the day. He is working on putting the weekly forecast into local storage so daily Internet access is not necessary.
Alistair and Alex hope to bring version 1.0 of this product to life in the coming weeks with the inclusion of the recently-introduced Kinoma Element!
Smart Water Bottle
John drew inspiration for the Smart Water Bottle project from his own life. As a runner, he knows he should be drinking more water, but has never been able to quantify how much he consumes every day. To solve this problem, he has developed a base that can be strapped to any water bottle to track water consumption. With a push of a button, the base takes readings from a force-sensitive resistor attached to the bottom. Kinoma software interprets the reading and computes a new color for the RGB LEDs that shine onto the bottle. As the user gets closer and closer to the daily water intake goal, the bottle will change from red to green.
John 3D printed cup bases to house electronics as a proof of concept and to further develop the design. He used Kinoma Studio, Kinoma Create, and a solderless breadboard to prototype the electronics. Next, he will print a custom PCB to fit into the base and continue to refine the product.
Alert Blocks started as Tanisha’s proposal for an LED-based traffic notification system to keep users informed about when they should leave for their destination. This then evolved into a broader idea: Alert Blocks would provide LED notifications for multiple services, including stock performance and Twitter notifications. Tanisha began working on a companion app that would customize and configure Alert Blocks. To build a working prototype, she had acrylic pieces designed, cut, and etched. Each block has a hole cut out in the back to provide space for LED electronics that will be powered by a Kinoma device.
Next, Tanisha plans to further polish the companion app and interaction with different APIs to provide the most customizability of the blocks, and improve the usability of the Alert Blocks through box design and electronics.
Kinoma has made huge progress in simplifying the IoT development process. To further advance this vision, Alistair is working on an ambitious project to make prototyping even easier with Kinoma Stacks. Kinoma Stacks is a concept modular IoT creation kit built on Kinoma Element. In an attempt to make electronics prototyping as easy as playing with LEGO blocks, Kinoma Stacks will enable makers to switch out hardware components in a plug-and-play type format to end up with a smart device prototype in just minutes.
In addition to these projects, members of our team have been interfacing different hardware components for future use. They are currently working on a port from Arduino for the Adafruit OLED screen that can be used for the Kinoma Stacks project. They also successfully made the tank robot do basic tracking using the Pixy Camera. They hope to use the Pixy tracking on other robots to have a more interactive play-style. They plan to release this code to the public in order to simplify the prototyping process using common hardware.
Calling All Kinoma Developers: Show us what you’re making!
These are just a few of the many projects that the Makers in Residence aspire to bring to life with Kinoma, and they’re excited to see what other projects the Kinoma developer community will create. If you have a project you’re excited about and want to share, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will feature it on our website and on Kinoma’s Instagram. Check out our Instructables page for more inspiration.
August 21, 2015
Kouis joins Kinoma as a User Experience Designer, Lizzie as Developer Evangelist,
Brook as a Software Engineer, and Will as Developer Support
- Kouis joins the Kinoma team as a User Experience Designer after earning a Master’s Degree in Web Design and New Media with a focus on User Experience Design from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. He also works on web design and development, trade show design, product photography, production, and graphics for the Kinoma team. Our updated website, booth graphics, collateral, and more are a result of his work.
- Lizzie graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Computer Science. She is the first member of the Kinoma team to have studied KinomaJS as a part of her formal education. While at UC Berkeley, she took a class on Human Computer Interaction taught by Kinoma’s own UX Architect, Dr. Andy Carle. She then joins the Kinoma team as Developer Evangelist, and is working on software engineering focused around the needs of developers, and interacting with developers, makers, and customers to help them get the most out of Kinoma. Hitting the ground running, Lizzie demoed Kinoma technology and networked with developers at O’Reilly OSCON her first week on the job.
- Will was one of the very first third-party Kinoma Create developers; he built the well-received Ultimate Aquarium Controller demo developed with Kinoma Create that we showed at SXSW 2014. Now, he joins us for Developer Support on the Kinoma Forums. Will is also putting together new reference materials that will address the more common inquiries and topics he’s noticed trending on the Kinoma Forums.
These new Kinoma team members were selected to ensure our developers and customers the best support possible. We’re happy to have them! Let’s #StartMaking.
August 14, 2015
The event has evolved in the last year. The exhibit area was bigger, an outdoor showcase was added to the Tokyo Big Sight deck, and the dates were moved up from November to August in order to time it with summer break.
Growing developer community
Switch Science is our retail partner for Kinoma Create sales in Japan. They offered special show pricing on Kinoma Create, and we gave away a complimentary sensor pack with every purchase.
This was a welcomed incentive for makers to join our growing developer community, including よつめ who’s already deep into building projects on Kinoma’s platform.
Time at the mic
Last year, we ran a packed workshop, giving attendees hands-on experience with Kinoma Create. This year, our engineer Basuke Suzuki took to the Main Stage to present Kinoma’s pro-maker hardware and software, and upcoming product releases. The topic connected with the audience, reflected by a spike in booth traffic and sales afterwards.
The evening prior to Maker Faire Tokyo, we held an intimate cocktail reception for media, early adopters, and partners. While our Maker Faire booth focused on Kinoma Create, the cocktail reception was a chance to show Kinoma Element and Kinoma HD in action. We featured the all-device demo first shown at O’Reilly Solid in San Francisco. The views from our private event room were stunning. There’s nothing like the Tokyo skyline at night.
Tokyo Big Sight to the Tokyo sights
Between customer meetings, a retail partner workshop, the cocktail reception, and Maker Faire, we somehow managed to take in a few sights around Tokyo. Strolling through the grounds of a shrine was a peaceful way to escape the big city bustle. We navigated our way through the alleys of the Tsukiji fish market for an amazing breakfast (a new Kinoma tradition). And to top off the whole trip, we held a team dinner at the base of the landmark Tokyo Tower. Thanks to everyone at Make: Japan, our developers, and all the attendees for a fantastic Maker Faire Tokyo experience. We will see again soon!
August 5, 2015
Kinoma recently participated in O’Reilly OSCON, to exhibit in the Hardware Showcase and to deliver a talk.
O’Reilly recognizes the innovation taking place in open source for hardware, and assembled a dozen hand-picked companies to exhibit in the Hardware Showcase. We’re delighted to have been invited to exhibit in the Showcase for the second year in a row. I was able to tag along and talk to the many product developers, makers, hobbyists, and educators who attended about our recently updated line of prototyping products and the vast opportunity with open software for hardware.
Demonstrating Open Source in the Hardware Showcase
There were several questions that were raised by numerous attendees, so we thought we’d share a few of them and their answers.
1. How do the devices communicate with one another?
People saw all of our charging cables on the table and assumed they were being used for cross-device communication—but fear not! All Kinoma products connect to Wi-Fi, so they are able to communicate with anything in the cloud, including other Kinoma devices.
2. What kind of developer tools do you have?
We also have tutorials to get you started with various types of sensors, a lot of sample code, and full project tutorials if you’re looking for inspiration.
3. What is your target user group?
If you have any other questions you can always ask them in the Kinoma Forums!
Peter Hoddie of Kinoma then gave a talk titled, “Closed devices powered by open source software? The IoT Paradox.” He explored ways to steer IoT back toward the openness and interoperability that’s hiding in the very software powering these products, including through licensing, end user programming, and protocols.
Then and Now
As a newbie to the world of tech conventions, interacting with such a variety of tech people in a short amount of time was an unfamiliar but fantastic experience, and I can’t wait to do it again. It was great to get a sense for the open source community and see all the brilliant minds that are happy to share their work with anyone who wants to understand, use, and improve it.
We had the opportunity to talk to a few members of the press, including Jupiter Broadcasting and Slashdot. You can see the full interview with Jupiter Broadcasting here and the interview with Slashdot here.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to come talk to us! We’re excited for all things open source in the future, and we look forward to OSCON 2016.
July 27, 2015
Introducing Kinoma Element and Kinoma HD
Our booth featured demonstrations of our new hardware product prototypes, Kinoma Element and Kinoma HD. The main demo on display was a Smart Life, Smart Lifestyle Hub, which runs on a large HD display via Kinoma HD and is driven by data collected and sent from Kinoma Create and Kinoma Element.
The demos connected to the Hub:
- Climate Sensor: a temperature and humidity sensor attached to one Kinoma Element placed at the far end of the booth. When the temperature or humidity changes (for instance, when the device was held in hand), the readout on the display ratchets up. The Climate Sensor uses I²C for communication between the sensor and Kinoma Element, zeroconf discovery for Kinoma HD to find Kinoma Element, and HTTP for information sharing between them.
- Gesture Sensor: a hover board attached to Kinoma Create, taking readings of the direction of a hand movement. When a hand moves right to left, for example, that data is sent to the Kinoma HD and the large-screen app animates a hand right to left. Simultaneously, Kinoma HD sends the sensor data back to a second Kinoma Element that has an 8×8 LED matrix attached which then animates an arrow pointing to the left. The Gesture Sensor uses I²C to communicate between the hover board and Kinoma Create, I²C to communicate between the LED matrix and Kinoma Element, zeroconf for device discovery, and WebSockets for cross-device communication.
- Air Doodle: a game that allows the user to doodle in midair by holding and manipulating a Kinoma Create, with the resulting drawing displaying on the Kinoma HD screen. Input on the Kinoma Create is captured using a 3D accelerometer, a potentiometer, a button, and the touch screen. Air Doodle uses analog input for the 3D accelerometer and potentiometer, digital input for the button, zeroconf for device discovery, and WebSockets for communication between Kinoma Create and Kinoma HD.
It was exciting to unveil the growing family of Kinoma solutions for developers, especially to such knowledgable attendees. The majority of people who came through the Kinoma booth were from IoT product development agencies, design labs, consumer electronics brands, and companies from a range of industries (including media and automotive) exploring their IoT future.
O’Reilly Solid was a good opportunity to share our news beyond the event. Thank you to all the member of the press who spoke with us about our news, views of IoT, and thoughts for what’s ahead.
Kinoma is still called on to discuss crowdfunding due to our successful campaign for Kinoma Create, our approach to crowdfunding while part of an established company, and our reasons for taking to crowdfunding. Peter Hoddie participated in the panel, “Indiegogo: The feedback channel for your new hardware products,” hosted by Kate Drane of Indiegogo.
Thanks to everyone at O’Reilly Solid for making this such a great event. We look forward to Year 3!