Makers in Residence: Project Updates

Andy Carle

Andy Carle

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

monstermayhem2The 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

26 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.

IMG_7251coaptank2They 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

dropumbrellaAlistair 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.

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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

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 Stacks


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.

Additional Hardware

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 and we will feature it on our website and on Kinoma’s Instagram. Check out our Instructables page for more inspiration.