Electric Imp, the startup trying to build hardware that makes it easy to turn any idea into a connected device, has signed a deal to provide its hardware and cloud services to companies participating in a GE-led hardware challenge. The industrial conglomerate said last week that it would team up with industrial product design site, Quirky, to enable people to build new connected devices.
For Electric Imp the partnership is a validation of its approach to the internet of things and a chance to help bring a proven model of innovation to the hardware hackers trying to build products for the internet of things. It’s also a showcase for the new hardware development model pioneered by Quirky and taken even further by crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and Indigogo.
Back when the Lockitron smartphone doorlock system crowdsourced its way to a few million bucks (after Kickstarter infamously told them to take a hike), there were all sorts of geeky questions that still needed answering. How the heck was this little WiFi-enabled box supposed to live off batteries for months on end? How was the average doofus back at home going to figure out how to configure it?
This morning, Lockitron creators Apigy answered these questions with an announcement that they’re working with Electric Imp, makers of a tiny WiFi chip that packs an absolutely brilliant trick up its sleeve.
Watching the Electric Imp team create complicated actions on the fly was nuts. But one of the most impressive features of the demo with far reaching implications was, to some extent, but a small part of how this all will work.
Anyone who has tried to get dumb WiFi devices onto a home or office network knows it's never the same procedure twice, and often a pain in the tuches. Getting the Imps to work with a WiFi network is super easy, and ingeniously done. You input the WiFi network name and password into the Electric Imp your phone (iOS or Android) and the app flashes light at a photosensor on the Imp card, using pulses of light to transfer the login. It. Was. Slick.
What can you do with the Electric Imp? You can control almost anything wirelessly over the Internet.
If you’ve ever dreamed about connecting your entire home to the Internet — so that appliances could start by themselves or you could receive text message alerts to maintain housekeeping — it looks like your dream is ready to become a reality.
Electric Imp calls itself “a complete solution to connect devices to the internet, wirelessly.” The start-up, founded by former team members of the iPhone and Gmail, came out with a line of programmable, pluggable network cards that look like SD cards — except each Imp card actually contains an embedded processor and WiFi antenna. By installing these Imp cards to your devices using circuit boards (which Imp sells), you’re able to connect them to an “Imp cloud,” through which you can control them and program them.
We're going nuts over this one.
Hugo Fiennes, the hardware boss behind the first four iPhones, has a brilliant new startup called Electric Imp. (We first got word of the company from Gizmodo.)
Electric Imp is more of a system than a single gadget. You can install a tiny card (it looks like your phone's SIM card) to just about any device in your home and connect it to the web. Each card has a built-in Wi-Fi antenna and processor.