Electric Imp serves up plants-thirsty, lights-on control

May 17, 2012 by Nancy Owano report

(Phys.org) -- Electric Imp wants to revive the dream of All Things Internet with its new device launched this week. Its Imp is able to connect devices to the Internet, where you can monitor and control information from your phone, mobile computer, or any other Imp-enabled devices. The Los Altos, California, company has essentially managed to come up with a cloud-based home automation unit. The Imp looks like any standard user-installable SD card and is equipped with embedded processor and Wi-Fi capability. The card’s WiFi radio supports 802.11b/g/n, and has an integrated antenna.

Electric Imp designed the card to be inserted into a product, connecting to the cloud service and in turn allowing the device to talk to other devices and to communicate with the user and services via the Internet. The cards can be programmed to control or measure anything. They can be installed to devices using circuit boards sold by Electric Imp. The company is talking to manufacturers as well, for the purpose of getting slots pre-installed on various products.

Costs for an imp card would be about $25 and circuit boards, would be between $10 and $25. Imp-enabled products will be available later this year from a number of vendors, say reports. The company notes that its patent-pending technology is available to license.

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Imp in Action

A developer preview bundle will ship in late June. Electric Imp says the software uses drag-and-drop graphics to set up commands, and is easily programmed. Preview units will be available along with developer kits. In notes for developers, the company says software running on the Imp is written in Squirrel, a C-like language, with extensions to communicate with the hardware interfaces and the service.

The release signifies a turning point in the Internet of Things, says the company, as Internet-connecting devices so far have been expensive and of limited user benefit. The idea for the Imp stems from one of the team members who wanted to remodel his bathroom and hook up a display under his bathroom cabinet to WiFi to display bits of ambient information, such as the weather forecast and share prices. Disappointed with the lack of tools available, he was convinced there must be a better way of doing something like this.

Electric Imp plans to be at the Maker Faire in San Mateo, California, which runs from May 19 to May 20.

Explore further: Audi tests its A7 driverless vehicle on Florida highway

More information: electricimp.com

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gwrede
1 / 5 (2) May 17, 2012
For some readers, this might be just another piece of passing news trivia.

All of a sudden, we now have these Imps, Raspberry Pis -- and the old industry, that used to sell marginally inferior equipment up to today, for ten times the price, is in a state of alert. And they should.

This time next year, you can go to any Electronics Component store, and expect to buy a palm-sized cirquit that performs better than the average laptop of today -- and pay a mere $25 for it. Virtually all companies who have products ready next year, won't even know what obsoleted them before they stood up!
Bob_Kob
not rated yet May 18, 2012
For some readers, this might be just another piece of passing news trivia.

All of a sudden, we now have these Imps, Raspberry Pis -- and the old industry, that used to sell marginally inferior equipment up to today, for ten times the price, is in a state of alert. And they should.

This time next year, you can go to any Electronics Component store, and expect to buy a palm-sized cirquit that performs better than the average laptop of today -- and pay a mere $25 for it. Virtually all companies who have products ready next year, won't even know what obsoleted them before they stood up!


Yeah you won't be running Crysis on raspberry pi for many years to come
sizemick
5 / 5 (1) May 18, 2012
...but you could run Crysis remotely, on a network, and use the pi to run display and input devices locally.
Imagine that instead of ever buying any expensive computing hardware for the home, we could use ultra inexpensive devices like the Imp or the pi, and purchase a remote virtual machine with whatever hardware specs we want (virtual hardware running on a supercomputer). If we had the bandwidth, the supercomputer itself could be a distributed machine, much like that used to crack bitcoin functions. Each pi or Imp or smartphone may only contain a small amount of computing power, but it's not like everyone is running all of them at 100% all the time.
Cheap, networked devices allowing distributed computing will probably find their place in our lives sooner rather than later.
No matter what - expect prices on all our favorite gadgets to drop rapidly.