Making Things Happen: The Internet of Things Dublin

By Conor Normile

You see them in corporate offices: rows of clocks telling time from London, New York and other hubs of power. Limited to a single function, these symbols of global reach might just briefly get you thinking about the cities they represent.

But what if a clock could show you what 8 a.m. in New York really means? A window into the city’s soul, updated every second?

That’s the idea behind Owen Derby’s Experience Clock. Powered by a Raspberry Pi computer, this “chronometer of human experience” displays Instagram uploads in real time from the world’s major cities. These snapshots of humanity make for compulsive viewing – sort of like Chatroulette before the lonely single guys took over.

The Experience Clock was one of several projects presented at the first Internet of Things Dublin meetup, held recently at iQ’s offices.

 

 

Dublin gets its thing on

The Internet of Things – putting web-connected sensors into everyday objects – may very well change life as we know it. And it’s powering a growing community of entrepreneurs and DIY makers worldwide.  IQ’s Ciaran Harris and Shekman Tang started the Dublin group to provide a forum for fellow makers to share ideas, collaborate and inspire each other.

The opening meeting witnessed talks from a broad spectrum of people doing interesting things with… things.

Smarter bins

Seamus Devitt of SmartBin showed how a simple idea – using sensors to remotely monitor bin levels – can turn into a global business. He also related some of the practical challenges of making bins talk: from getting sim cards to communicate through metal (no mean feat) to prolonging battery life.

 

The DIY carputer

Our resident petrol head Paul Donnan talked about the process of building an on-board computer for his racing car.

Built with an Arduino chip, GPS tracker and gyroscope, it relays information like water and oil temperature to the cockpit. An SD card saves the data for analysis after the race. Next, Paul plans to develop a mobile app so that his team can monitor data in real time from the trackside.

3D prototyping

Designer Ryan Paetzold shared his experiences of 3D printing. In theory, it’s a quick way to prototype physical objects before making them smart. Starting with tales from the frontiers of science – apparently NASA has plans to print edible pizzas – Ryan brought the discussion down to earth, debunking some of the myths surrounding the technology.

Ryan took us on his journey to 3D mastery, one that’s paved with the plastic scraps of failed experiments (which he kindly brought in on the night).

 

 

Get involved

Internet of Things Dublin will hold meetings every quarter, with workshops throughout the year on topics like Arduino and 3D printing. It’s open to everybody – hackers, designers and the mildly curious alike.

You can join the Internet of Things group here