Looking Outwards: Shields

Discovery 1: Electric Imp Shield

The Electric Imp is, basically, a wifi shield, but it has two things that make it more appealing than a standard wifi shield.

  1. It is cheaper than a standard wifi shield (at least this one that I found on sparkfun.) I’m not sure why that is.
  2. It comes with software/a system that makes connecting the shield and arduino to the internet simpler. I haven’t used a plain wifi shield, but I have used the Electric Imp for a project, and it did abstract away most basic I/O and networking concerns, so I could just program behavior for it.

Last time I used the electric imp, it was so that a user could adjust the behavior of a device from a web interface (the adjustments were then transmitted through the Electric Imp system/device.) Some ideas for how I could use the Electric Imp in other projects are:

  • Have two installations that are connected to each other, where the state or viewers of one is reflected in the state or behavior of the other (with the two communicating via the imp)
  • Because the electric imp is scalable, it could be a part of a project with dozens of installations (geographically spread out) that respond to online data or sensor data dynamically. (Beacons, kind of.)

Discovery 2: CMUcam v4

This is an expensive little shield, but pretty amazing. I wouldn’t have imagined that this existed before I found it. The CMUcam v4 “is a fully programmable embedded computer vision sensor” which is dedicated to handling motion and color input information and pipes that data to the Arduino to which it is attached.

Some ideas for how to use this computer vision shield would be:

  • Having a robot which responds “emotionally” to its environment’s light circumstances. (Basically a creature which can see the real world and react.) I’m imagining a cute blob-type creature with an LED inside where the blob’s color changes in response to the light and motion around it. (This could also branch off into a “chameleon” type project.
  • Have an environment/objects in an environment that can see and respond to people in it. For example, there could be a box that runs away from the people around it, or several which chase or surround people that come in a room.

Discovery 3: GPS Shield

This GPS shield can locate your position within a few meters. I know I’m almost certainly not the only one including this in my post, but it just has a ton of potential. Some ideas I have for it are:

  • Having something which floats, like a mini hot air balloon, with a GPS tracker in it, then recording the GPS coordinates to capture the path that the balloon takes. Then I could use the path data to draw wind wind or something (or this could be combined with the computer vision one.)
  • Have an object which might get passed around (e.g., a rubber ball with an arduino suspended inside) and use GPS with the first electric imp shield to track its path through the world. I don’t think the rubber ball is the best idea. Maybe a “lost” smartphone instead (although in that case you could “lose” a smartphone and then use its built in sensors to track where it goes and how its used.)

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