A few weeks ago I was invited to both Jazoon 2012 and Google Dev Fest in Zurich to give talks about Android phones and their roles within the Web of Things. Clearly, mobile phones are important actors in the Web of Things: they are ubiquitous, they can take pictures, read barcodes and QR codes, decrypt NFC tags and communicate with lots of different networks (WiFi, bluetooth, etc). In short they are ideal gateways for our interactions with real-world objects.
Android phones recently pushed the limits of communication with real-world objects one mile further. Indeed, they now have the ability of communicating with one of the most popular hardware prototyping platforms: Arduino. Arduinos have been used to interact and control a plethora of real-world devices such as lamps, washing machines, coffee machines, microwave ovens, doors, etc. The ability to combine them with the Android platform basically means that now you can use your Android phone – its nice screen, its universal connectivity, its CPU power – to build prototypes of virtually any type of interaction between your phone and the real-world. Need examples?
What if you could create a heart tracker that would connect to your phone and send your heartbeat to the cloud for your doctor to access it in real-time?
What if you could turn your phone into an electrosmog probe? Graphing in real-time the devices around you that generate electromagnetic fields and letting you create a map of the zones you cross and their electrosmog level?
How about hacking your car so that it is fueled by Facebook likes?
There are basically two ways of creating Android hacks for talking to real-world devices. The first way is an abuse of a feature of your Android phone called ADB (Android Debug Bridge – more techie details here). The second is basically the result of Google’s reaction to ADB “abuse”. They could have made a patch to prevent people from using their phones to interact with devices they hadn’t approved (or received money for) but instead it was a nice response where Google actually decided to standardize the process of creating (prototypes of) Android accessories in a system called the ADK (Accessory Development Kit, more techie details here).
An interesting element of most IoT projects involving Arduinos and Android phones is that, to get really interesting, they need a cloud service where the data can be sent, stored, visualized and shared with other Web apps. The heart tracker needs a place where the data can be sent to and made accessible to the doctor, the electrosmog probe needs to send its data to the cloud to produce maps of electrosmog levels, the like-powered car needs to communicate with the cloud to get the Facebook likes.
With the EVRYTHNG developer program you now have a way of quickly building these prototypes. Indeed, our Java wrapper now also supports Android and lets you, within a few lines of code, create THNGS and update their dynamic properties. These properties (e.g. the elecrosmog level) can then be consumed by any Web application or even visualized directly in the developer dashboard. Set your creativity free and start building Arduino + Android prototypes for free with the EVRYTHNG API. We are looking forward to hearing from you and seeing what comes out of it!
Need more info? Here are the slides of my talk about Android, Arduinos and the Web of Things: