What is IoT?
It's an abbreviation for the Internet Of Things.
Essentially its a platform agnostic method of connecting all manner of devices to a local network or the internet itself.
These devices can then provide information about their environment and upload them to a local hypervisor, or push the results out to a service on the internet. The data is then collated and presented in a user friendly format through various tools.
This is really IoT in a nutshell. See the IoT FAQ's for more information.
Would you like Pi with that?
The Raspberry Pi was first released to the masses in February 2012. As of Feb 2015 over 5 Million units have been sold.
It has become one of the defacto standards for those interested in the connected world. It has made IoT accessible to the technically inclined and gives you a robust platform to experiment and explore with. It is predominantly run using Linux however Microsoft has indicated they will be releasing a Windows variant for the Pi.
Why connect your devices?
The possibilities here are virtually endless and it really comes down to what aspects of your life you would like to gather data on. Data that might assist you with power management, environmental issues you'd like to track, performance of devices or even home security and monitoring.
The connected world
With the proliferation of devices in the community and infrastructure being currently developed that is IoT aware. It could allow you to gain a better understanding about how others in your town, city or country utilise objects in their day to day life. Data can be assembled on a variety of aspects in the home (or business) and the results could assist with future planning. Average power consumption could spawn a project to improve delivery of power at key times or reduce the cost of power at off peak times. Monitoring of the temperature in a home across a town may point to those homes being warmer or colder and requiring better insulation to save power costs.
You'll need a base level platform, a Raspberry Pi or an Arduino is generally a popular choice.
You will also need the necessary tools to communicate with the device, in the case of the Pi this would be:
• USB keyboard and mouse
• HDMI compatible monitor
? or a HDMI to DVI converter.
• Power supply able to deliver 2A at 5V
? If you power up your Pi and notice a flashing coloured square in the top right corner, you are not delivering enough power to your device. This can impact its performance
• A copy of the operating system on a microSD card
? the card should be at least 4GB, 8GB or larger is preferred
? You can download a variety of Operating Systems from here
You will also find instructions on how to flash the card
? There are various Operating Systems for the Pi, most people start with Noobs or Raspbian
? If you want to use your Raspberry Pi as a media centre, try RASPXMBC
• If you want to develop for IoT, you'll also need a network connection. Raspberry Pi has an Ethernet port on it or you can add a wireless USB adaptor and free yourself from the Ethernet port.
• Python is the official development language for the Raspberry Pi and it's included in the Unix distribution you just installed, there are other choices for languages which we will cover in other FAQ's
Ok, so what's next?
It's now time to connect some sensors to your device. There is a endless supply of devices out there to try. These include, but are not limited to:
• Temperature & Humidity
• Motion Sensing
• Power and Current monitoring
• RFID & Bluetooth
• Robotics and Automation
Take a common item that you have in your home and adapt a sensor for it.
• Put a temperature monitor in your refrigerator that transmits data back to the Pi so you know when your kids have been opening the fridge door and how long they leave it open for.
• Hack the dog feeder, so that it becomes internet connected. Make a web interface and click a button to automatically feed the dog if you aren't home. Of course you could also hook up a camera so you can see the dog eating, why not include a speaker so you can also call your dog or talk to him while he is there.
• When you open your garage door, fit a micro switch to a wireless module that will send a trigger back to your Pi and then have the Pi switch on your PC. Once you are inside, you are all set and ready to check your email. You can of course make this work as an IoT device, just make sure its secure!
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