We held our very first internet of wild things class yesterday, a workshop which teaches people how to create machines out of everyday objects and connect them to the internet. Participants entered the class with no electronics or programming experience and were asked to bring in some kind of found object from home - a bottle of sunscreen, legos, a disco ball, and a sewing machine were some of my favorites.
The class started with fundamental electronics concepts to get people excited and confident about making. Together, we wired a few LEDs and used a button to control a light. No one even got shocked!
Look ma, no code
A brief introduction into micro controllers moved us into manipulating components via processor logic. Within a few minutes we were using a web interface to configure and load code onto our spark cores, magically enabling us to control elements of our projects via a web page with a few buttons!
The application used to configure and load code onto the spark cores is a moonshot product and is available as a public project on github.
If I press a button in the real world, make a tweet
After everyone was comfortable making basic electronic circuits, we began creating if this, then that style web flows via Zapier. This gave students a wide variety of web hooks including Gmail, Twitter, text messaging, phone calls, Facebook, and many more.
After this 90 minute introduction, each student started working on their own projects.
Everyone in the class had great ideas, but two of my favorites were:
1. Sara Buck brought in a bottle of sunscreen and used a force sensitive resistor to detect when the lotion was applied. The bottle would then schedule a reminder on her google calendar set for 2 hours into the future. After two hours, the calendar sends her a text message reminding her to reapply to prevent sunburn.
2. Stacey Kledis brought in her sewing machine and began to create an application which logged the number of stitches and length of use. The machine also attempted to detect the type of fabric used by sensing pressure.