IBM Bluemix, an Intel Edison, and a Cowbell

The story of a 3-person team winning Silver at the IoT Roadshow in LA

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So there I was, standing in front of the premiere IoT developers of LA (no pressure).   I was pitching my idea at Intel’s IoT Roadshow Hackathon, which amounted to: “I want to make a unique bedside clock, and…its fine if it comes out like a Frankenstein”.  What started as a simple concept, mutated to a multi-featured futuristic clock.  The end product:

Our Masterpiece

Original Schematic

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We were lucky @neerajaganesan and I attracted a third teammate, (none other than Matt Pinner who makes custom instruments for Purity Ring) Matt brought an entirely different concept (Google integration) that we were able layer into our schematic. We accomplished this task in one day’s time.  It couldn’t have been done without some important tools: Node Red, the new Intel Edison board, and some on-the-fly creativity.

The Vision

I wanted to create a simple sensor detection that set off a special user experience, or business rule.  By getting the Edison connected to Bluemix, I knew we’d have a lot of notification options (Twilio API, Twitter etc.).  I wanted to create a 3D printed something + notifier = alarm clock. Seemed simple enough.  Additionally, I wanted to attempt what other DIYers haven’t, make a clock without any display of time.

 

Check out the Video: The Final Product

 

The Concept and Marketing Slide

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Features

  1. Wake with the sun’s warmth
  2. Be punctual with subtle color notifications
  3. No annoying time is displayed
  4. No unnatural digital alarm
  5. Large snooze button with functional SMS reminder (cloud-powered)
  6. ‘Gradually getting you back into the digital world for the day…”

kb13H4Showing the temp sensor starting up the cowbell

How NodeRed on Bluemix Helped
(section written by @neerajaganesan)

(Neeraja) So I decided to participate in the Intel IoT LA Roadshow in LA. Two days to create something unbelievable from scratch. Today, cloud has really made it possible to get things up and running in a matter of no time! I mean, can you imagine a fully blown product and its URL l created within 48 hours?! It’s awesome right! That’s exactly what Bluemix has made possible. And that’s how Matt Pinner (so glad we met you), Colin Mccabe and I realized our own IoT dream and went ahead to win 2nd prize.  Being a platform as a service and a deployment medium, we used Bluemix’s Internet of Things foundation and NodeRED editor to connect a device to the cloud. Just key in the ID of your device and click on connect. And voila! Your device is now sending information to the cloud. Using NodeRED for fetching this data and giving the app logic, as nothing but drag and drop! No fear of the black screen(*shrugs*).  This editor is designed to minimize any kind of coding. It has components which are connected by connectors (a squiggly line with 2 ends).. And each component has a little editor, where you can write a couple of lines of code based on your requirement.

Don’t believe how easy it is? Alright, try these 3 steps yourself and you’ll believe your eyes:

1. Go to ibm.biz/iotsenor and note down the alphanumeric string on the top right corner.

2. Go to temperaturesensor.mybluemix.net/red/# ­> Double click IBM IoT App In(blue colored box) ­> Paste

3. Click “Deploy” in the top right corner and watch data appear under the Debug tab!

And there you go! Your very own, temperature and humidity reader from a virtual device. Just power up an actual Intel Edison/ Raspberry Pi/ Spehro etc… Hook up sensors and feed in the mac address. Double­click other boxes to understand other nodes and have fun!

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The 3D – Printed Snooze Button (Mistake)

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(Cplin) I wanted to ensure there were some design elements to the final piece. Using an arcade-style button from Frys is cool, but building its own special ‘uberbox’ is cooler. The green also helped with inspiring the final design. In actuality, I wanted to put EVERYTHING encapsulated in the green casing (version 2?), but I didn’t have the smaller Edison Breakout board handy, and the tiny bell I was using wouldn’t wake a mouse, swo it became a wired remote control for a single button (a feature!).

While our original pitch advertised it would comfortably wake you, we found that the cowbell actually gave a headache-inducing clang (who would have imagined!).  There is no way you’d miss a meeting again. Modified marketing:

 

 Second Place: The Sundi.al System

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… and First Place: (also a great Intel video wrap-up)

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How We Built an IoT Foosball Table with IBM Bluemix

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I joined IBM a few months ago, and had the opportunity to work on a week-long skunkworks project with our fabulous team. To demonstrate the Internet of Things (IoT) in action and the impact it has on the world of gaming, our IBM Cloud Technical Evangelists set out to combine a Raspberry Pi, foosball table, and a plethora of Bluemix services into an new demo product.  See our wrap-up video here.

Our Inspiration:

Before I get into the details, it’s important to look at the genesis of this initiative, and how it fits into a cloud-based IoT worldwide “league.” Our project was amongst others and proved to be a true global effort.  The idea for IoT Foosball tables started across the Atlantic in Germany; covered in Sandy Carter’s Blog.  Fabian Eitel and Marcel Seibold successfully created a Bluemix-powered table, that tweeted scores, and rated the team’s probability to win.

foosgermanyFabian and Marcel play Sandy Carter

Not to be outdone by our European colleagues  (we love soccer -er- I mean football too), our team created our own version here in the US.  The demo was written in Python and Node.js, all integrated on the Bluemix platform and leveraging best-in-class services like Twilio, Cloudant, and Watson.   Check out our video here:

Our philosophy was to compliment the game of foosball, and not to interfere with casual gameplay.  There was a need to automate the system, and have accurate sensors mounted to the table, all with Bluemix powering the system.  Here are the features of this high tech table.

Features:

  1. Personalized Tweets are announced for players and winners from our official Twitter handle, follow live games at @foosbuzz
  2. A responsive Web app, running on Bluemix, keeps score, shows leaderboard, and doubles as a real-time scoring display for TVs/projector.  Check out the current games happening now, http://austin.foos.buzz
  3. Players can login with their LinkedIn id to get a Foosbuzz profile, and to show off wins and bragging rights
  4. An audio cheering section, powered by Watson, motivates players and celebrates wins
  5. An arcade-style hardware reset button featured on the table quickly starts new games

ca@Foosbuzz announces logins and gameplay

The Hardware

The excitement around IoT is that you can computerize any object, so why not a Foosball table?  Attach sensors, interface with the cloud, and you can begin creating unique experiences for mobile users, and automate rich data collection. The team selected a Raspberry Pi micro-controller, small IR Sensors (to detect ball movement), and most importantly, a hackable foosball table that can be opened up and retrofitted for our use.  Besides the addition of 15 feet of wiring, and a power cord, the equipment is minimal.  The real challenge was to create an internal corridor for the ball to enter when there was a goal.   After some woodwork at Home Depot, and some power-drilling under the hood, we successfully created a goal detection system. If there is a goal, the ball ricochets down the guided path, and Bluemix sees the goal via sensors.  You can download our tutorial and Spec Document, and get granular details on the hardware side. Here is a sketch of what our system looks like.

board

 

The Code

Utilizing Node.js, with NodeRed, our visual coding engine, we were able to customize a system to meet the needs of the table (a basic goal sensor) and our web app platform.  DevOps is critical in fast-tracked development processes, so we used Bluemix allowing our developers to see and edit the code on bluemix.net (30-day Trial). There would be no way to complete the project in time if we developed in a traditional way.  Each member can login to see updated changes, and modify code.  Acting as a true Swiss Army knife for apps, Bluemix also gives access to premium APIs, production deployment, and gives use of real-time goal data from the IoT Foundation.

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Live Scoreboard for display, and mobile devices

Developing in this centralized way – combined with the “power tools” of  server monitoring and admin, our team had a mission critical system to troubleshoot and upgrade with future enhancements.  In other words, we were in business.  Our code is open source, and you can see it here.  We plan to help more cities create their own portals at city.foos.buzz , and be part of our gamer network.  If you are interested, please tweet to @foosbuzz!

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Leaderboard tracks your wins with your Linkedin SSO

Game-on

We wanted a digital experience utilizing mobile.  The site, austin.foos.buzz,  acts as both the login, scoreboard, and leaderboard all in responsive design.  There are important rules for this game, first to 5 wins, using house rules.  In our IBM garage, we allow spinning, long possessions, and verbal taunting.  Please follow your favorite rules.  Most important: first to score 5 goals wins.  Each new game is announced on Twitter for everyone online to cheer you on.

Worldwide Development Continues

With Germany and the US now on the map, the IBM global game effort continues with one of the best tables yet in São Paulo, Brazil. Produced by Vinicius de Morais (ja tecnologia), Victor Silva, and Monica Rufino for the Cloud Developer Bootcamp, this IoT Foosball table exudes style and function.  Written in Python and C++, the code integrates with Bluemix IoT Foundation and four sensors.  Having the additional sensors brings higher detectability with each goal.

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The Brazil team utilized NodeRed, a flowchart controlled online tool

table

Look at that beautiful IBM Bluemix table!

Next up: We will be developing a new table with new special features in Nairobi, Kenya – the worldwide league continues to grow!  I hope this inspires you to create your own cloud-enabled foosball table, all utilizing our best practices.

Special thanks to the Austin team: Oliver, Stefania, Vance, and Neeraja in creating this high-tech experience.  We’ll see you on the field, or creating buzz on Twitter!

Colin McCabe, @beekman33

The thoughts and opinions on this page are my own and don’t represent my employer.