We have seen startups providing home automation system in various domains using the concept of Internet of Things (IoT). While those were the systems already provided with built –in functionalities, Spark,Thingsquare, Carriots are those startups that in fact help you create your own Internet of Things device. While the solutions IoT provides definitely looks no less than jargon to a layman, these startups have particularly stressed on building the Do-It-yourself (DIY) kit in a way that even layman can lay his hands on it.
Let us understand it with an example: You are working on an assignment that asks you to survey the caffeine viz. tea, coffee consumption in an office on different days like a light day, appraisal or hectic days etc. This is where the DIY solution comes into picture and can make the solution much simpler and accurate for you.
The solution proposes to install a flow meter between the coffee drum and the tap. The flow meter is equipped with sensors that send electronic pulses to the connected wire when a fluid passes through its internal blades. A calibration method has to be set up have a conversion constant from pulses to a volume unit (ml) and the work is done. Arduino board is the recommended one for accurate pulse record. When pulses are read, collected information is then sent to the Raspberry Pi. Then RPi handle reads, keep a log and send data to clouds. Each time a coffee is served the information is sent to the cloud. Then, all data is stored and pushed to external information systems to extract useful information by the smart Business Intelligence guys.
Such kind of solutions can be built with the components, be it hardware or software provided by the startups such as Spark, Thingsquare and Carriots. For instance, Carriots provides its cloud services and has its own intelligence system that consists of listeners (for calibration and counting purposes), triggers(for pushing data), and different APIs. The custom dashboard can be built in any web technology with a precondition that it should be capable to talk to the Carriots platform via API. It comes with a licensing cost in various plans.
Spark is also an open source system. It provides a solution called ‘Spark Core’ which is a Wi-Fi development board that makes it easy to create internet-connected hardware. Spark Core is a chip that can be installed in any of the devices that you want to control remotely. The device is capable of being programmed in the C/C++ or assembly language, wirelessly without attaching it with the PC. It can be reprogrammed. It connects directly to the cloud provided by the Spark through the Wi-Fi module in the chip. With the help of the cloud, the devices can be accessed from anywhere in a safe and secure manner through REST API. The devices can also be accessed without the cloud support, through the TCP and UDP communication protocols. The kit comes at $39.
Thingsquare works in a similar way. In the solution provided by them, chips are added to the devices that one wishes to control. These chips run the Thingsquare open source firmware. They connect to the cloud via Wi-Fi or Ethernet. This way one can build its own home or office automation system with minimal effort. The backend connects the devices with the API. The firm has partnered up with Texas Instruments for manufacturing wireless chips. Typically the chips are compatible with lighting, metering and wireless sensor devices.
Typically these startups provide you an ideal platform to control your device as well as store and assess your data remotely in a secured manner, an ideal example of Platform as a Service (PaaS) with some in built hardware and micro controller chips required.