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SolidCon highlights IoT innovations

26 May 2014  | Jessica Lipsky

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The dawn of the Internet of Things (IoT) has brought much complicated devices, which often are combinations of hardware and software, containing microcontroller, sensors, and networked software. The IoT opens up a connected world in diverse fields such as medical, industrial, and commercial verticals. Many of these devices were displayed at O'Reilly Media's Solid Conference in San Francisco.


Rethink Robotics' Baxter is designed for manufacturing.

Rethink Robot's Baxter

Baxter is designed to perform a variety of repetitive production tasks for use in manufacturing. The robot's arms provide 70 degrees of freedom and can handle 5lbs of material each.

The first Baxter was shipped in January 2013, and the first research bot launched in April of the same year; officials said several hundred have already been shipped. Eventually, Rethink hopes Baxter will become self-aware and able to assemble other Baxters or aid in a nursing home. Baxter costs approximately $25,000.

Noam Pong

Start-up Noam officially released its messaging and prototyping platform at Solid, showcasing a massive "Pong" display that utilised 20 connected devices—iPads, Arduinos, and Raspberry Pis. Noam's platform, which allows for communication among devices with different languages, has been used in a car simulator and kinetic sculptures.

 Pong board

The back of Noam's Pong board. (Photo by Jessica Lipsky)

Wearables for dance and space

Students at Georgia Tech University have used inductive thread and specialised circular microcontrollers to create several garments. In a NASA sponsored project, industrial designer Emily Keen created a shirt with sensors on the shoulder, elbow, and wrist to monitor body movement for repetitive stress injury in astronauts. Information can be sent to a computer through a wireless receiver.

 A Georgia Tech and NASA project for astronauts

A Georgia Tech and NASA project for astronauts.

The shirt is currently being tested at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, where information from the stretch sensors is being mapped to a 3D model.

 Ballet Hero

The Ballet Hero tracksuit was designed for training adults.

Another project developed a jumpsuit for teaching dance, with the hope of breaking down movements into "keyframes." Each limb of the Ballet Hero garment has a microcontroller, which is paired with an accelerometer and series of LED lights to sense changes in movement. A central microcontroller provides power and I2C data connections to each limb.

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