Revolutionizing Consumer Technology: a Robot that Doubles as a Self Moving Suitcase

Technology is rapidly evolving and changing the way that we go about living our daily lives. We’re living in an era were phones are able to do thousands of different things and cars can drive by themselves. Yet for all of this innovation, traveling and carrying things with you has remained relatively the same over the last couple of decades. Luggage hasn’t benefited from the rapid technological advances of the 21st century.

That is until now. Travelmate is a new type of robot that doubles as an affordable self moving suitcase. It moves by itself and thinks for itself thanks to a variety of sensors and integrated artificial intelligence. It’s fully autonomous, meaning that it moves on its own through all types of terrain. Travelmate easily navigates through crowds, uneven environments and other obstacles.

This robot doesn’t need any extra accessories and uses your smartphone’s location to follow you around. It adjusts to your speed and can go up to 6.75 mph, so it’ll never be far behind. It also has LED indicators which will show you where it’s planning to go.

David Near, Travelmate’s CEO, says that, “one of our top priorities is to make sure that Travelmate is as secure as possible”. That’s why you can see exactly where it is at all times through the Travelmate app on your smartphone. If someone else wants to take your Travelmate, it will sense that it isn’t following you anymore and will lock its wheels, which will prevent it from being moved. You can also activate audible alarms through the Travelmate app. These security features mean that it’s virtually impossible to lose it.

Travelmate has plenty of features. It has managed to re-invent the wheel – literally. Travelmate uses unique omni wheels that allow for precise adjustments in movement. It has such an incredible range of movement that it can turn 360 degrees without moving from its place.

You can tell your Travelmate to follow you from the side, from the front or from the back through the Travelmate application.

Travelmate is an autonomous suitcase, but it’s also the first affordable all purpose robot. It has the potential for hundreds of features and real world applications. It can be a camera operator, security robot, or a robot companion. There’s no limit to the potential that Travelmate has.

That’s in large part due to the team behind this one of a kind suitcase. Travelmate Robotics was formed as a separate company to launch consumer robots at an affordable price point. They’ve been developing Travelmate for over a year before officially announcing it. Their team consists of developers who have been manufacturing autonomous commercial robots for 8 years. They include robotics specialists, designers and even people who’ve worked on prototypes for space exploration rovers.

So it’s no wonder why Travelmate is so innovative and unique. You can pre-order a Travelmate right now through indiegogo at a starting price point of 399$. However, this price might not last long, because distributors are already in contact with Travelmate Robotics.

Distributors in more than 30 countries are already in negotiations to carry their suitcase in their stores. What that means is that pre ordering now may be your only chance to get one at such a low price. David Near says that, “we’re very happy that investors and distributors have expressed interest in our company. We are always open towards new partnerships and proposals”.

In any case, traveling is about to get a whole lot easier. Technology is constantly moving us forward and Travelmate is at the forefront of that.

https://igg.me/at/travelmate/x/4781251

LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 – Project „Mak3rBot“

The Mak3rBot is a LEGO MINDSTORMS Robot that consists of 3D printed Parts. The design is based on Damien Kees RileyRover / Joe Menos Retailrover as this design only needs a few parts. All parts were printed on a Vellemann k8200 3D printer. Most of the parts could be found on Thingiverse, some needed to be exported from Ldraw/LeoCAD. The LEGO ActionCam Camera mount has been designed by Andy Milluzzi. The mission of this robot is to travel to Maker Faires and share the #MINDSTORMSMAGIC with the makers around the world and show them that it is possible to combine LEGO with your maker hobby and create your own parts and robots.

The pictures were taken at Legoworld Utrecht 2016. The Mak3rbot robot and pictures were made by me, Sebastian Trella. Feel free to share pictures or contact me if you need more information or help with creating your own robot.

MODI, Smart IoT/Robotic Modules, Kickstarted

“JUST CONNECT.” LUXROBO wants you to simply connect its MODI modules to create an IoT or robotic device in seconds. MODI is a set of cube-shaped modules that LUXROBO launched on Kickstarter.com on October 14th.  It has already reached its funding goal of $30,000 in less than three days. With MODI, you can quickly and easily create devices like a theft detector, an RC car, a mini Segway and much more.

MODI comes with 13 different modules. They are color-coded into three different types: Input, Output and Setup. LUXROBO plans to add numerous other modules to its line-up soon. To take a full advantage of your MODI modules, you would customize the interactions among the modules through MODI Studio, LUXROBO’s simple graphic coding tool. You just need to drag and drop the commands. You can also convert the graphic coding into C Language (with other languages to be added) instantly.

The first thing you notice about MODI is its simple, elegant, minimalist design. You may also be surprised to see how small the modules are, only about 2.5 cm wide and long, and 1.5 cm tall. In such a compact dimension, LUXROBO has packed in PCB, MCU and its unique magnetic connection mechanism, in addition to the apparatus that supports each module’s unique function. Taking advantage of each module’s MCU, each MODI comes with MODI OS embedded. This feature enables each module to do its own processing and store memory. Each MODI is a smart module. One of the many benefits is MODI modules do not need to be connected to a PC or some other form of a master system to function on their own.

Putting MODI modules together is a pure joy. Each module’s four sides are all equipped for MODI’s unique magnetic connection. When placed close to another module, a pair of magnetic prongs come out slightly to form a tight and secure magnetic connection with the other. It is a lot of fun to try the automatic magnet connection over and over. Another advantage of MODI is its compatibility with Lego blocks. You can easily recycle the Legos or Lego-compatible blocks that you may have stored away to build a nice housing to your MODI devices.

LUXROBO aims to make IoT and robotic technologies more accessible for everyone, and that goal is captured in their vision of “Robotics of Things.” With its Kickstarter campaign, LUXROBO has taken a big step towards its vision of Robotics of Things. Until November 22nd, you can back LUXROBO and get MODI modules at approximately 40% off the estimated prices.

About LUXROBO:

LUXROBO’s roots are in robots. The founding team and core R&D members studied robotics together in college and have entered and won numerous international robot competitions together. LUXROBO was founded with the vision “Robotics of Things,” making robotic and IoT devices readily accessible for everyone.

LUXROBO is young and fearless. It was founded while its core members were still in college. It had no fear in developing its own OS for MODI and its own SW coding tool in MODI Studio. Even with MODI still in development and with no revenue stream to show, LUXROBO has been honored and recognized as one of Korea’s top technology-based startups, including being awarded Top11 at this year’s Echelon Asia Summit.

LUXROBO is ready for next big steps and challenges. LUXROBO has supplemented its young talents with experienced engineers and marketers from Samsung Electronics. With the Kickstarter campaign under way and supply of MODI modules to the UK soon to follow, LUXROBO is ready for a take-off.

Kickstarter Campaign:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/luxrobo/modi-create-anything-you-want-with-robotics-of-thi

Plobot is a colorful coding companion that takes programming beyond the computer screen

A revolutionary robot toy helps your kids learn computational thinking through physical play

An educational robotics startup is pioneering a new way of teaching computational thinking and programming through physical interactions with command cards.

How the Plobot platform works

Plobot is an Arduino-based robot learning companion designed for four to eight year-olds. It’s designed to be a child’s first encounter with coding concepts – using cards and storytelling versus syntax and computer screens.

Each command card represents a block of code, directly triggering actions for the robot through its built-in RFID scanner. Kids can make Plobot navigate a maze of obstacles, play music, light up with different colors, sense nearby objects, and much more.

Swiping the cards in sequence strings together a ‘program’ the robot follows, with the „Play“ card working as an execute function. Amplifier cards mimic loops and conditionals, changing the effects of the other cards.

A headstart in computational thinking

By breaking down each task into a sequence of steps, kids exercise problem solving and creative thinking abilities, while picking up core coding concepts such as variables, conditionals, and loops. This helps pave the way for a foundation in computational thinking, and sparks an early interest in computer science.

Plobot can take up to 50 instructions in one sequence. With card expansion packs, Plobot provides countless possible combinations that make it one of the most versatile screen-free coding platforms in the market.

In addition to command cards, Plobot works with ‘stations’, circular pads with labels like ‘school’, ‘ice cream shop, or ‘home’ which serve as goal posts during programming activities and adds a storytelling element to the lessons.

Plobot’s exterior is made of easy to clean plastic, and kids can customize Plobot using stickers, clay, and or attaching Duplo blocks on its back.

 

A Maker’s Journey

Plobot began in 2013 as Rodolfo Cossovich’s side project. Rodolfo is an Argentinian robotics engineer and inventor who teaches robotics at New York University.

“We started with the idea that children learn best through physical play,” Cossovich shares, “The challenge was fundamentally how to make the code-learning experience more interactive and engaging without getting kids in front of computer screens.”

Plobot participated in Make in LA’s hardware tech accelerator to move the project forward. The edtech startup has developed a custom curriculum around Plobot which it has pilot-tested with hundreds of kids in international schools and coding bootcamps in Shanghai, Taipei, Buenos Aires, Washington DC, and other cities over the past year.

“Computational thinking is becoming core literacy for the next generation. Plobot gives kids a headstart. Many parents have described Plobot as a physical version of Scratch. We use this physical coding approach to help kids become better thinkers through play.”

Plobot is set to launch on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter the third week of October at a retail price of $159. An introductory price of $79 (50% off retail price) will be offered to early backers.

The Kickstarter campaign can be found here.

Robelf – Your Moving Monitor Guardian

As of last week, Robotelf Technologies Co. has announced their IndieGoGo campaign for their home robot, Robelf. They launched the campaign on October 4th, 2016 in hopes of raising $100,000. The team behind Robelf is hoping to bring recognition to their first project. Although there are currently a few different Home Robots on the market today, Robelf has been designed to stand out with various features not yet seen. Mainly, Robelf flaunts their multi-camera design with detachable back camera (known as their Elf Eye). This gives you an extra IP camera to use. Now with Robelf, you will be getting the only home robot where you do not need to crouch down to utilize it. With an adjustable camera that can move up and down to fit the needs of everyone in the family. With Robelf’s built in iBeacon positioning system, you can setup the patrol time for Robelf to automatically survey your home. The ultrasound and infrared device located on Robelf can accurately dodge any obstacles around and Robelf, with sound detection and a face recognition system; you will be notified of anything out of the ordinary. Many times home owners are nervous when leaving their home alone, especially in certain areas; with Robelf those worries are a thing of the past. The indoor tracking features allow Robelf to roam the house and alert home owners or authorities of any issues. Robelf is the perfect design for non-tech users including both older adults and children.

Since 2014, Robelf Inc. has been perfecting their first product and ensuring they release a home robot that is above and beyond anything out today. The size of Robelf was perfected to ensure a home robot that could easily maneuver around the home without an issue, while still being large enough to present a comfortable presence. There is also the ability to adjust the head so children and adults can use Robelf easily. Moving forward, Robelf Inc. is hopeful to reach their goal to be able to mass produce Robelf and bring their amazing home robot to families across the world. Robelf has also made clear they will be shipping by the middle of 2017, and if they do not accomplish this they’ll be offering a full refund to all backers.

About Robotelf Technologies: After spending 15 years of developing learning software for children, the idea of Robelf came with confidence. Having Robelf in your home will allow learning and education to continue in the home which is one of the most important reasons Robelf was built. The Robelf team, which has a strong background in both OEM and ODM has been able to reduce to the pricing to aro und $400. Their early bird pricing on IndieGoGo will be around $349.

For more information, please check out our website www.myrobelf.com

Building Internet-connected robots in an easy way? CORE2 is the answer.

February 2015. Kickstarter campaign of „RoboCORE: the heart of your personal robot” has just started. RoboCORE promises that building consumer robots based on this platform will be much simpler and cheaper than using existing alternatives. 30 days later, with almost $60 000 and 311 backers, campaign is successfully ended. Further R&D, manufacturing, beta tests and RoboCOREs finally goes into the hands of robotic enthusiasts around the world. Since then, thanks to the feedback from hundreds of people, Husarion ecostystem for IoT in robotics has highly evolved and improved. Now this is a stable technology, used by universities, makers and developers. It was time to improve the device and make RoboCORE 2.0. So there it is, named Husarion CORE2: controller for automation & robotics.

 

Husarion CORE2          RoboCORE

Building Internet-connected products, especially if they aim is not only to store the data, but also to control physical things in real-time, is challenging. Husarion’s mission is to lower entry barrier for new ventures in the area of automation & robotics, as much as possible. They shouldn’t focus on technical issues, but on their customers’ problemssays Dominik Nowak, CEO of Husarion.

Many Kickstarter funded companies decide to launch the next generation of their products also on this platform. Husarion has a different attitude: they don’t promise the miracles, but they give technology that simply works.

If you order now, on the next day your CORE2 will be shipped to you, and all ‘how-to-start’ materials, hardware & software documentations are already available at docs.husarion.com.  
Husarion ecosystem overview:

What is special in Husarion’s product? It is not a single product, but a coprehensive solution for companies and developers who build various mechatronic Internet of Things products. Mechatronic means combinations of mechanics and electronics. This is a wider concept than robotics, beacuse apart from robotic lawnmower or telepresence robots, it also includes Internet-connected door lock, electric roller blinds etc.  

Husarion provides 3 elements for IoT mechatronic design:

  1. reference hardware, such as CORE2, RoboCORE and other available in the near future,
  2. cloud platform to control, update firmware, manage and share connected devices,
  3. programming framework to write a code that runs on hardware and communicate with a cloud.

The users have access to many examples, professional Real-Time OS based C++ 11 framework and versatile hardware, therefore building working prototype is a piece of cake.

Product is adressed not only to makers, but also for companies. They could use CORE2 to rapidly prototype  a preliminary design, and Husarion would help them to elaborate the prototype to mass production ready version. This way they would create the version of CORE2 suited for their product.

Husarion provides also an interface for people who don’t build robots, but just use them. By logging to cloud.husarion.com you can simply add a Husarion-powered device(e.g. made on CORE2) to your user account and see list of your devices:

When you click on device name in the cloud, you will be moved to the user interface specific for this device, created by robot vendor using Husarion framework. If you log into telepresence spy robot, you will see something like this:

If you log into your Husarion powered home automation system, it can look like this:

Husarion enables sharing of user’s devices. It can be done in two ways: by sharing with other cloud user or through the link. Especially the second option is convenient because you can easily give somebody the access to your robot without logging into Husarion cloud.

Husarion provides solution for makers, robot manufacturers, universities, and non-engineeres who want to play with controllable robots. Husarion’s platform is the first one of this kind on the market.


Husarion CORE2

General overview of Husarion ecosystem is described in the previous section. Now let’s dive deeper into Husarion CORE2 hardware details. Specification shown on https://docs.husarion.com/hardware/core2_1_0_0/index.html gives you a glimpse on what’s inside:

The unique feature of CORE2 hardware is a direct support for DC motors with quadrature encoders. Up to 4 motors can be connected at once, and Husarion framework is optimized to control them in real-time without wasting processing power of CPU. It could be done thanks to hardware encoder interface peripherals integrated into timers of STM32F4 microcontroller – the brain of Husarion CORE2. Motors are controlled by PID regulators implemented in background RTOS tasks, separate for each motor. In many professional applications the popular RC servos aren’t enough. Thanks to CORE2, you can easily convert any DC motor with encoder into servo-mechanism that works in accordance with your requirements. If built-in H-bridges don’t suffice, external power driver can be easily integrated.

CORE2 has also the interfaces that allow connecting almost every market-available sensor, or external electronic module. These interfaces are: UART, I2C, SPI, CAN, ADC, microSD card slot, USB host, GPIOs, ADCs, external interrupt inputs, and servo ports powered by built-in DC/DC converter with selectable voltage level.

There are two ways to develop software for CORE2:

  1. a) offline – using any IDE and SDK downloaded from https://husarion.com/downloads,
  2. b) online – using a Web IDE integrated to cloud.husarion.com.

Especially the second option is very comfortable, because it allows you to start writing code immediately, without struggles with configuring IDE, installing drivers etc.

Husarion team is doing their best to create comprehensible hardware and software documentation with a lot of examples and ready-to-use templates. They also opened public profile at hackster.io, where Husarion team and community share tutorials on how to use CORE2 in various IoT mechatronic projects.

Spy v. sPi by Dexter Industries


Dexter Industries launches a fun educational game that coaches kids to solve problems by challenging them to accomplish secret missions called Spy v. sPi. Dexter Industries, a growing U.S. educational robotics company developed Spy v. sPi, a capture-the-flag style engineering adventure that puts real purpose to basic design and programming skills. It can be played individually at home, or in teams in a classroom or a workshop. In it, every “spy” is assigned a series of missions, each requiring them to write code to control an assortment of sensors that will allow them to protect their “jewel” in different ways, or capture the “jewel” of a competing spy.

Spy v. sPi is based on the GrovePi, an easy-to-build robot kit that includes a rich collection of programmable, plug-and-play components — from sensors for things like distance, sound, light, and infrared, to buttons, buzzers and more. Thanks to the GrovePi’s combination of hardware and software, Spy v. sPi makes it easy to connect to a robot, start writing code, and get rewarding results right away.

We’ve developed Spy v. sPi’s missions with a full range of skills and experience in mind, so no prior programming or electronics experience is required. Each Spy will learn how to program the different sensors and components with step-by-step instructions, all while completing a mission. There are also missions for more advanced spies, and there’s no limit to how complex your solutions can get. Best of all, the entire program is designed by actual spies, so players will face real-life engineering challenges they’ll solve just like real spies do.
Spy v. sPi is designed for everyone — so we have two different programming languages you can use. Scratch is for beginners, and is a drag-and-drop programming language developed by MIT. Python is available for more advanced spies, and is an open source text-based programming language. The Missions are step-by-step instructions that first teach you the basics of Scratch and then help you move on to more advanced programming in Python.

Spy v. sPi Missions are activities in the form of a mission. Each spy will learn how to program the GrovePi and an assortment of sensors to accomplish different objectives, all within a story created by real spies! The Missions will come in a beautifully designed and illustrated full color printed booklet and online videos. It includes space to work on ideas and plan your solution to the challenge, as well as all the information you need to be a successful spy.

We believe the best way to learn is by doing — building something tangible to solve real world problems. Some learners thrive in a competitive environment, and for them, Spy v. sPi is perfect: you can play in teams or against an opponent. For solo learners or those that want a family game to play at home — some spies might want to equip their room with a spy device or alert them of entry by a sibling. Spy v. sPi Missions support both styles of learning and are fun for everyone! Learn more at dexterindustries.com/spy.

People Power Announces World’s First iOS and Android Enabled Smartphone Security Camera Robot – Presence 360

Breathe New Life Into an Unused Phone With the Intelligent Motion-Sensing Smartphone Robot That Can Automatically Keep an Eye on the Most Important Locations in Your Home

DALLAS, TX–(Marketwired – Sep 13, 2016) – People Power, a services enablement company providing apps, cloud and mobile services for the Internet of Things (IoT), today announces Presence 360, the world’s first 360-degree smartphone security camera robot that reveals existing blind spots in home security. Presence 360 integrates with People Power’s free Presence app, which reimagines spare smart devices into remotely monitored video cameras and has already sent more than 80 million Presence Video Alerts worldwide. By downloading the Presence app on an unused smartphone and cradling that device in Presence 360’s adjustable arms, users can monitor their homes and loved ones in 360-degrees, control viewing angles remotely and automatically receive motion detected video alerts when they’re away from home. People Power will be demoing Presence 360 at the CEDIA Expo 2016, September 15-17, 2016, at booth 4171.

Traditional security cameras are costly and only let you see a single static view, which leaves users blind to anything outside of the camera’s visual range. Presence 360’s full pan-and-tilt and 360-degree rotation allows users to look all around. Users can customize how long the camera remains at each vantage point too. Set Presence 360 to automatically pan to the front door for 15 seconds, the kitchen window or any other area of the home. Presence 360 cycles through those vantage points automatically to search for intruders or activity — recording video the instant motion is detected. When motion is detected, a Presence Video Alert of the activity is sent straight to the user’s smartphone as well as to their trusted circle of family and friends.

“In an era where technology is helping workers make impressive strides in productivity, we still find a big need for technology that lets consumers know what’s happening at home when they can’t be there,” said Gene Wang, CEO and co-founder of People Power. “Unless you’ve budgeted for a complicated and expensive home surveillance system, you may never know what’s happening until it’s too late. By revealing those nagging blind spots, Presence 360 brings people peace of mind, and is paving the way for a new era of lifestyle security.”

The Presence Security Pack extends the value of Presence 360. It works through the Presence app and combines entry, motion, water, humidity, temperature and touch sensors to create a whole home monitoring solution.

Also announced today is a significant performance increase to the Android version of Presence, which comes as a result of a conscientious refactoring of the popular mobile application. Android users will experience an increase in performance 3 times greater with the new version of Presence, available today in the Google Play Store.

Presence 360 is compatible with iOS and Android smartphones. To pre-order Presence 360, visit https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/presence-360-smartphone-security-camera-robot-99-app#/.

About People Power
Founded in 2009, People Power Company is an award-winning software company with a successful legacy in mobile and cloud technology. The People Power IoT Suite enables rapid connection, engagement, delivery and management of IoT products and services for services providers, manufacturers and consumers searching for connected lifestyle enhancements. Its ready-made cloud and mobile software stacks connect people with networked devices to humanize the Internet of Things. Services from concept through commercial release enabled by People Power are available as white-labeled solutions for customers around the world. For more information, visit www.peoplepowerco.com

Robo Wunderkind raises $500,000 and announces a new mobile application

Vienna, Austria, Sept. 20, 2016 — The Vienna-based hardware startup Robo Wunderkind, which develops modular programmable robots for young children, announced today a $500,000 funding round with participation from Arkley VC as lead investor, business angel Juergen Habichler, and the Austrian Federal Promotional Bank (AWS). The funding will go into the widening of their retail reach and the expansion into new markets. The plan is to build a worldwide distribution system and to give young customers from everywhere a chance to learn coding and robotics in a fun and simple way.

The startup already raised $250,000 from backers from 58 countries on Kickstarter in October 2015 and by now collaborated with more than 50 schools around the globe to bring Robo Wunderkind to the classroom. Its vision is to revolutionize the way children interact with technologies through developing educational hardware and software products.

 

Piotr Wasowski, Managing Partner of Arkley VC:

“I expect Robo Wunderkind to transform how our kids interact with technology. Even very young children will be able to learn the basic principles of programming, which are vital for their future careers and for understanding the world around them.”

 

Juergen Habichler, Business Angel:

Robo Wunderkind is the future of education. I have been looking for a long time to find a visionary team, which combines robotics with education. I strongly believe that Robo Wunderkind has the potential to become the education platform for kids, students as well as adults.

 

Today, the startup is also announcing its new application to remote control electronic devices: the Robo Play App. Its simple programming interface will allow users to easily create personalized virtual dashboards to control the robots they will build with Robo Wunderkind modules, remotely via Bluetooth or Wifi. In the next step, the team is going to make the Robo Play App compatible with other Internet of Things (IoT) devices, such as cameras, lights, motion and light sensors.

 

Rustem Akishbekov, co-founder and CEO at Robo Wunderkind:

“In the beginning, we wanted to create an interface that will allow even a 5-year old to control our robotics kit. Eventually, we created a platform that will allow us to expand our target audience and reach older users. With our app, everyone will be able to control their IoT devices with the help of a very intuitive and customizable app. The way our robots prepare young kids for the digital world of the 21st century, our app will open the world of IoT devices to everyone.”

Yuri Levin, Chief Design Officer:

“With the help of our user-friendly and intuitive design, we are making interaction with IoT devices seamless and accessible for the wider audience.”

 

Robo Play App is free and will work on both Android and iOS devices. It will be compatible with all Robo Wunderkind kits, which are already available for pre-orders on their website with shipping planned for later this year.

 

About Robo Wunderkind

Robo Wunderkind was founded by Rustem Akishbekov, who brought Anna Iarotska and Yuri Levin on board in 2013. The company is based in Vienna, Austria, and maintains an office in Shenzhen, China. In the last three years, the founders have gathered a team of passionate engineers and designers dedicated to the vision of making coding and robotics accessible to everyone. Their first product is an educational robot that syncs with intuitive mobile applications to help children understand the basics of programming. Robo Wunderkind was part of the world’s first and largest hardware accelerator HAX in 2014 and Finalist of TechCrunch Disrupt SF Startup Battlefield in 2015.

Onion Launches the Omega2 to Bring Innovation to the Internet of Things (IoT)

July 29, 2016 – Onion announces the Omega2, the IoT development board aimed at bringing innovation back into the IoT space. The Omega2 launched on Kickstarter last week and is currently more than 1,100% funded, with 25 days left to go in the campaign. Campaign Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/onion/omega2-5-iot-computer-with-wi-fi-powered-by-linux
IoT never really gained mainstream status. Most „smart“ products on the market are nothing more than ordinary products with a screen slapped on it. These products don’t bring true value, so as soon as the novelty factor wears off, consumers move on to try the next „smart“ thing. Innovation in IoT is driven not by the needs of the market, but by the need of product companies to create new products and turn a profit. To bring innovation to IoT, the products need to be repositioned to address real pain points in everyday life. Onion aims to do that with the Omega2 by making hardware development accessible so everyone can start solving problems in their lives with IoT technology.

„We created the Omega2 to be the most accessible hardware development board,“ says co-founder and CEO Boken Lin. „We do this in two ways, by making it extremely affordable, and by making it very beginner-friendly. There is always a risk involved with trying new things, and by reducing the price to starting at just $5, we hope to minimize that risk so more people can make the plunge. Making it beginner-friendly means that even users with no electronics experience can do something with the Omega2 on day one.“

With a myriad of hardware development boards already on the market, the Omega2 is uniquely positioned as having the advantages of single-board computers such as the Raspberry Pi as well as microcontrollers such as the Arduino. It is much smaller than the Raspberry Pi (less than ¼ the size), and it is much more power-efficient, yet at the same time, it is much more powerful and robust than the Arduino, allowing it to be used in applications such as video/audio streaming, etc.

Because the Omega2 runs Linux, and for inexperienced developers, developing on it will feel much like using a regular computer. An added advantage to supporting Linux is that the Omega2 supports many programming languages. This capability makes the Omega2 approachable for existing programmers who are new to hardware development, allowing them to build hardware projects with familiar languages and programming environments. Finally, for users with absolutely no experience in programming, the Omega2 integrates Node Red, a programming environment developed by IBM that allows users to program IoT devices by simply dragging and dropping block diagrams.

„Everything around us is becoming smart.“ says Lin. „It started out with the smartphone movement in 2006, and now everything from thermostats to televisions, from cars to light bulbs are becoming smart. We want to create the tools that give everyone the power to reinvent their environment. And that’s why we have worked so hard to make the Omega2 so simple and affordable for everyone.“

Onion is a startup that aims to create “The Invention Platform for the Internet of Things”, a collection of hardware and software development tools that simplifies the process of creating and manufacturing connected products. The company is based in Boston, Massachusetts, with operations in Toronto, Canada, and Shenzhen, China. Onion completed a very successful Kickstarter campaign last year to launch the first generation Omega. Onion is backed by Techstars, and went through their 2014 Winter program in Boston.