This Is How You Will Connect Everything In Your Home To The Internet

The guys who brought you the iPhone and Gmail now want to connect your washing machine, light switch, and just about any other electric device you can think of to the internet. Get ready to be amazed.

Electric Imp came out of hiding today, announcing a line of Imp cards that can be installed on any electronic device to put it online and even control it. The little cards appear almost identical to standard SD cards but have Wi-Fi antennae and embedded processors. You can install them to existing devices using some of the circuit boards Imp sells, and the company is in talks with OEMs to get them Imp slots pre-installed on a range of products. Once installed, they connect to the internet and Imp's cloud-based software controls, allowing them to both be controlled remotely and work in conjunction with other connected devices.

This is the "Internet of Things" we've long been hearing about. But unlike most solutions, this isn't a vertical system that requires you to purchase devices designed to be connected to a central controller. The Imp's big breakthrough is that it will work with any device, and then programmed to control each as needed. There's no need to create a back-end software system to control devices; the Imp handles all that.

And the range of things it opens up is truly impressive. For example, you might have an Imp connected to water level sensor in a Christmas tree stand that automatically sent you a text message if the water level got too low, or dimmed the lights on the tree to prevent a fire. (See the video demo below of an Imp doing just that, which the Electric Imp team set up on the fly in about one minute.) You could set your pool pump to only kick on when electricity is below a certain price per kilowatt-hour. Washing machine manufacturers could use them (as could end users) to get feedback on a machine as to how efficiently it was being used. Imps could be connected to soil sensors in a yard to automatically turn on or off a sprinkler system.

The web-based software uses a drag-and-drop graphical interface to set up commands, making it dead simple to use and create actions. For power users, it's also programmable, opening up a world of possibilities. Users will be able to share tasks they've created, as well as hardware designs. A few boards designed by the Imp team will be on sale at SparkFun in coming months, but they're really hoping people will hack and share their own designs.

Watching the Electric Imp team (which includes former iPhone engineering manager Hugo Fiennes and former Gmail designer Kevin Fox) create complicated actions on the fly was nuts. But one of the most impressive features of the demo with far-reaching implications was, to some extent, a small part of how this will all work.

Anyone who has tried to get dumb Wi-Fi devices onto a home or office network knows it's never the same procedure twice, and often a pain in the tookus. Getting the Imps to work with a Wi-Fi network is super easy and ingeniously done. You input the Wi-Fi network name and password into the Electric Imp your phone (iOS or Android) and the app flashes light at a photosensor on the Imp card, using pulses of light to transfer the login. It. Was. Slick.

A developer preview bundle will ship in late June. The cards will cost $US25, while a basic circuit board is expected to retail for about $US10 and a more complex one for about $US20 (pricing is still up in the air on the boards). [Electric Imp]


Comments

    and said circuit boards will probably be $100+ for aussies.

      Ah, the price we pay for not being fat, lazy and in debt.
      #firstworldproblems

        0/10

        Actually we are (apparently) fat and (defiantly) in debt. But yes we're not lazy.

      I'm guessing they will also charge a monthly fee depending on how many devices you add to the service.

      You forgot to add GST plus Carbon Tax plus local and import taxes

        And the haha-you're-surrounded-by-water tax

        and the this is what happens when you fuck strangers up the ass tax

        Don't forget the Ex-Convict tax

        not to mention the led by a ranga woman tax

          gees go to the punch you lot, I come here to talk tech

        Thia list wouldn't be complete without a tax on a tax: the so-many-taxes-we're-actually-going-to-need-more-accountants tax

    These look like fun gimmicks, but would serve little practical purpose around the house. In our already information-centric and saturated world, who wants to get phone updates from the washing machine? The pool pump example, maybe, but I have a pool, and I know what they're like, so I wouldn't place an extra layer of technology between me and it and expect fewer problems.

      What about your heater? Air conditioner? Lamps? Powerpoints? Individual appliances- Computers, DVD players, set-top boxes, electric blankets, ovens, microwaves....

      Sorry tembre, that might be your personal preference, but for us micro managers of their lives, this is perfect. And once it becomes integrated INTO appliances ALOT more people will use it

        You want to micromanage your electric blanket? Sorry, my bad, wrong crowd.
        I'm after tech that makes my life easier and less complicated - as such, this makes little sense to me. And anyway, should the web go all Lawnmower Man, anyone's house wired up like this will become a death-trap! Food for thought there...

          I'm just saying timbre- if the ability is there, built in, why wouldn't you use it? I'd love to be able to have my electric blanket turned on by phone. And all my powerpoints, in case I forget to turn something off before a trip. And my stove, computer, heater when I leave for a trip. My hot water heater if I'm gonna be away a long time and turn it back on well before I'm home. It would save you HUNDREDS of dollars a year.

          Each to their own, but I think many people would like that power....as long as it's easy. Complicated systems turn most people off. This system however, seems pretty intuitive and simple.

        Well. After much deliberation The only things I would like to do is:
        Turn on the electric blanket automagically 20 minutes before I go to bed via only the power of my mind. (as I usually have no idea when 20 minutes before bed would be...)
        Turn on the lights in rooms I walk into by looking at the ceiling. And off again by staring at the floor after leaving.
        Turn on my computer and use the media player using thought control. I.E NOO this song is crap, skip it. Its so awful I cannot even lift my fingers to use my i remote as they are busy controlling my bleeding ears! What is it even doing on my computer!!?
        Everything else would just annoy me.
        Yep.

          I was expecting a lot more "I'm afraid I can't do that." comments.

            apparently it only works if you are in the US and speaking US English

              Nah it's mind control, so you have to _think_ in US-ian rather than Australian.

          google glasses are coming my friend.. lol

      You never know, I can imagine someone making a location aware solution around this so lights turn on/off as you move around the house and powerpoints/heaters/ac cons switch off when you leave the house etc.

    not buying into this until it's able to be at my command everytime I cross my arms and blink twice..

    (how many of you are actually doing it? lol .. I know you want to!)

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