As web application developers, we work with bleeding-edge technology on a day-to-day basis.
There are many possibilities, but in the end they all do the same thing. At a very high level, all software pushes pixels in some way or another to help you perform an action, especially on the web.
But It’s Not Just Software
Software is changing the world around us and helping innovate that movement is extremely rewarding, though the Internet of Things is among us. A world where every device we own is connected and quantified is only a few years away.
From the boom of the smartwatch to a toaster that will tweet you when it has finished your toast, we are beginning to live the sci-fi movies our parents watched as children.
That's why a few months ago I stopped at Radioshack to pick up a newer microcontroller called the Arduino. I read all over the internet how people were using this $30 chip to shape their everyday lives.
How Code Can Affect Physical Devices
In 2010 I went to one of my first developer conferences. I sat in on a talk where the speaker described how he was able to create a functioning, full-sized garage door opener using just this chip and a few servos. I even saw a demonstration showing how a car can be connected with this technology, allowing us to retrieve trip information, flash the headlights, or lock the doors. And then there was Scott Sullivan , a UX Designer from Columbus, who helped quantify foot traffic in his friend’s brick and mortar store with a whole network of these devices.
There is just something about writing code that affects a physical device (more so than a screen) that is exciting. That is why after spending five minutes with the Arduino, getting a red LED light to blink made me feel like Superman.
Saturday Morning Arduino Hardware Hacks
I’ve spent a few hours here and there on Saturday mornings with the Arduino. Going from the simplistic blinking LED, to interfacing with a Windows Form application that can control the lights on the board. And now I have it so that the board is hooked up to our build server, allowing it to monitor our applications and to show the current build status (similar to a traffic light). Get the traffic light code.
There is nothing we cannot accomplish, we just need the motivation and inspiration to do so, and the necessary components are now more affordable than ever.
Sign Up for Our Hardware Hack Event
At Aztek, we have ventured into using the RaspberryPi , a credit-card-sized computer, as a media center, and now as an arcade machine.
If you want to spend an evening with people who get as excited as me about making a tiny light blink, then you should come to our Hardware Hack event on October 23, 2014 from 5:00-8:00 pm.
Hack with us on Arduinos, Raspberry Pi microcomputers, NetDuinos, and any other microcontrollers you want to bring along. This will be a fun, open working session event where we look forward to helping you learn what is possible when software meets hardware, and networking with everyone about what you may be working on. This will also be a hands-on event, so time will be spent pairing on projects and learning from each other in a collaborative atmosphere.