Your Data at a Glance

Data collection is a hot topic. As a society, we don’t quite seem to have decided how we feel about it—on the one hand, we decry the governments and corporations that appear to pry into our habits and track our every move, but we also post our photos, Tweet our thoughts, and check into our locations with perpetually increasing frequency. It’s an interesting paradox, and one that Natasha Dzurny, a recent alumna of NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, decided to tackle in her Master’s thesis.

She investigated attitudes surrounding personal information, and identified what she described as “a taboo around data collection, especially with products that collect personal data—how much we exercise, where we spend money, who we spend time with.” What struck her about her findings was that few people she spoke with expressed any positive feelings about data collection; most ranged from apathetic to outraged. Natasha set out to create a simple physical interface that could change these perceptions by removing some of the layers of abstraction that surround “big data,” the massive fount of digital information that computers collect and sift through, and turning it into something meaningful and easy to understand.

Natasha started out by putting some serious thought into the design of what she was going to create, and developed a set of guidelines for her project. First and foremost, she wanted it to be an accessible source of information; if the problem was that personal data is too opaque for the average individual to glean any benefit from, the solution must be easy to read and digest. She drew inspiration from wall clocks, and imagined a wall-mounted kinetic display that would allow personal data to be quickly reviewed and understood in the same way that the passage of time can be reviewed and understood visually from the face of a clock. To help keep things clear, she opted for a simple face with a well defined “goal zone” to represent when a person had reached his or her data target. Natasha named her creation “GLANCE” to reflect how simple it should be to understand personal data with just a quick look at the device.

Natasha also wanted to make all sorts of data from different sources available through her device. Physically, she accomplished this by choosing modular hexagons as the shape for her display—multiple GLANCEs displaying different types of data can be mounted together easily. To get at all the different data sources themselves, however, she turned to Temboo:

"Temboo was something that I knew about for a while but was afraid that it was going to be just too hard. Well, it was very easy to get going and I was so proud that I set up most of the code myself! I used the FitBit API and the JavaScript code from the code creator on Temboo’s website. It was empowering."

At the heart of every GLANCE is an Arduino Yún, which queries different API datasets using Temboo Choreos. Natasha’s first prototype used FitBit data, and she expanded her scope from there to include other services in the Temboo Library like Google Calendar, eBay, and Foursquare. The data that is returned triggers a motor behind the display that moves a marker along a track to indicate progress. Natasha designed two different track types—one a straight line and one an arc of a circle—but both terminate in a painted area representing the “goal zone.” The display casing itself, within which the Arduino is contained, is wood with plastic backing, and is subtly lit by a set of internal LEDs.

Now that she’s built her GLANCE and earned her degree, Natasha is forging onward with her project. She put together a website to showcase the finished product, and included thorough documentation on what it took to build GLANCE from concept to completion. It’s well worth a look for anyone who’s interested in design, the Internet of Things, or the role of data in our daily lives!

"What started as an experiment to acknowledge my fitness progress opened my eyes to the larger conversation around data ownership. I find myself on the optimist side of the spectrum, hoping to enhance our human experience with personal knowledge, not to intrude on privacy. I don’t have all the answers in this conversation, but I do have a desire to create beautiful art objects that are useful as well. I hope this project can benefit both our relationship with data and a desire for beauty in technology."

A Simpler and More Intelligent Internet of Things with Digi and Temboo

Today we have a guest post from Digi International about programming Digi hardware with Temboo. You can find the original post on their blog:

The ongoing drought in the western United States underscores the importance of maintaining and conserving a reliable supply of fresh water—whether for drinking, irrigation, fire control, or manufacturing, reliable water storage is essential. Of course, half the battle in maintaining a water supply is managing it: once a tank system has been installed and filled, water must be properly distributed when it is needed and retained when it is not. If tanks are remote and many are spread over a wide area, monitoring them can become a costly and time-consuming obligation.

These are the sorts of challenges that Digi and Temboo are overcoming by building a more intelligent Internet of Things. A network of Digi hardware running Temboo Choreos is flexible and smart—devices can be programmed to execute a wide variety of processes, and be reprogrammed without being interrupted. This is a solution that combines the ease of automation with the trustworthiness of manual control. To illustrate the solution’s benefits, and demonstrate how the whole system works, we’ve built a model of the water tank problem. This system puts Temboo and Digi to work, keeping water levels right where they ought to be.

Our tank monitoring solution uses an XBee ZigBee radio to wirelessly exchange sensor information and remote control commands using Digi’s new XBee Gateway, a programmable device that joins ZigBee mesh networks to the Internet. A small Temboo client written in Python is installed on the XBee Gateway, allowing it to connect to over one hundred different web services using Temboo Choreos. With Temboo, the memory constraints of the small devices in the network cease to be an obstacle to intelligent behavior, as much of the code required to execute complex processes is offloaded to the cloud.

In our model, a sensor attached to the XBee radio monitors the water level of our tank, and sends those readings to the XBee Gateway. If the tank leaks and the water level falls, a response is triggered on the gateway. First, the gateway uses Temboo’s Yahoo Weather Choreos to check the forecast for rain. Temboo’s Nexmo Choreos are then used to telephone the relevant individual with an automated voice message that gives a real time rain forecast and offers a choice of actions to take by entering a number on the phone’s keypad.

If a storm is on its way, there is an option to ignore the alert. If the leakage does not need to be urgently addressed, there is an option to schedule a maintenance event for the future, which the Temboo program on the gateway handles via a Google Calendar Choreo. If the situation is urgent, however, there is another option to activate a backup pump at a different point in the XBee network and refill the tank. Of course, all of this will only work properly if the sensor and gateway are powered on and functioning, so our system needs to be prepared for any loss of connectivity—if, for any reason, transmission of the level of water in the tank stops, another Temboo Choreo will file a Zendesk ticket to alert support that the system needs attention.

The most exciting thing about this model, however, is that it is only a small example of a massively scalable system. XBee technology can connect hundreds of different devices in a much larger network, and Temboo’s Library contains over two thousand other Choreos that can be used to execute an immense variety of tasks. Modifying the behavior of the Temboo program on the gateway to, for example, switch notification services is just a matter of changing Choreos, a simple task. Digi’s hardware and Temboo’s software are coming together to build a lighter, smarter, and much easier to use Internet of Things.

Demo created using:

Are you using Temboo or XBee in your Internet of Things application? You can share how you’re using wireless technology by tweeting us at @XBeeWireless and @Temboo.

We had a great time showing off Temboo at World Maker Faire New York last weekend!  We met a lot of awesome Makers, saw some fantastic creations, and already can’t wait for the next one! We had a great time showing off Temboo at World Maker Faire New York last weekend!  We met a lot of awesome Makers, saw some fantastic creations, and already can’t wait for the next one! We had a great time showing off Temboo at World Maker Faire New York last weekend!  We met a lot of awesome Makers, saw some fantastic creations, and already can’t wait for the next one! We had a great time showing off Temboo at World Maker Faire New York last weekend!  We met a lot of awesome Makers, saw some fantastic creations, and already can’t wait for the next one! We had a great time showing off Temboo at World Maker Faire New York last weekend!  We met a lot of awesome Makers, saw some fantastic creations, and already can’t wait for the next one! We had a great time showing off Temboo at World Maker Faire New York last weekend!  We met a lot of awesome Makers, saw some fantastic creations, and already can’t wait for the next one! We had a great time showing off Temboo at World Maker Faire New York last weekend!  We met a lot of awesome Makers, saw some fantastic creations, and already can’t wait for the next one!

We had a great time showing off Temboo at World Maker Faire New York last weekend! We met a lot of awesome Makers, saw some fantastic creations, and already can’t wait for the next one!

Win an Arduino Yún!

We had a great time at World Maker Faire New York last weekend showing off our new Bluetooth low energy support alongside all of the other ways that Temboo makes it easy to connect hardware and build the Internet of Things. It’s hard to believe that it has been a year since the Arduino Yún was released and we first joined Arduino at Maker Faire to introduce our IoT partnership!
To celebrate a great year of creating, making, and coding with connected hardware, we’re holding a contest and giving away a Yún from Newark element14 (check out their website to see all the different types of hardware they have)! We’re looking for the best use of IoT Mode to build an awesome Internet of Things device, but the sort of device that you build is entirely up to you. Any Temboo Choreo(s) and any hardware you choose to incorporate are fair game, as long as the device you build is programmed with IoT Mode. We’ll judge submissions based on how useful they are, how useable they are, and how fun and creative they are as well.

To enter, send your name, a description of your device, what it does, and how it uses Temboo Choreos to do it to hey@temboo.com, along with a photo or video of the device in action. Submissions are due on Monday, November 3, and we’ll announce the winner the following week. Happy building!

Temboo Now Supports Bluetooth!

We’re very excited to introduce Bluetooth support for all the Choreos in our Library, just in time for Maker Faire New York! We’ve added the RedBearLab Bluetooth Low Energy Shield for Arduino to our connectivity options in IoT Mode, so now you can generate code for IoT mobile apps that can call any Temboo Choreo in response to a trigger from a Bluetooth-enabled Arduino board. For example, if your Android or iOS phone comes within range of your BLE shield, it can react by Tweeting, sending an email, logging data to a spreadsheet, and more! Bluetooth joins Ethernet, GSM, and WiFi in the family of networking technologies that Temboo supports.

We can’t wait to see what you build with Bluetooth—email hey@temboo.com to show us what you create!

Temboo and Texas Instruments Are Teaming Up!

We’re excited to announce that we’ve partnered with Texas Instruments to bring Temboo support to their LaunchPad Development Boards! Now, Temboo comes bundled into the LaunchPads’ Energia IDE, meaning that you can program connected LaunchPads using any of the Choreos in our Library with IoT Mode. You can read more about how TI and Temboo are working together to build the Internet of Things in our launch announcement and on their blog!

A Temboo Home Brew

Drew McGlashen had been brewing his own beer at home for quite some time, but was looking to perfect his craft—he wanted to find a way to remove the characteristic “home brew taste” from his batches of beer. He knew that keeping the temperature of the fermenting yeast as close to the ideal level as possible while brewing was the best way to do this, but also that maintaining a constant temperature in the fermenter would require close monitoring and continuous attention. At the time, McGlashen was teaching a high school electronics class, and he was inspired by the idea behind the UberFridge to automate his temperature monitoring with the microcontrollers he was using in his course.

“Basically, the beer goes into my standard 40L fermenter, which then gets put into a fridge along with a heat mat. An Arduino microcontroller with a couple of digital temperature sensors attached measures the temperature of the beer and the fridge air and uses a PID (Proportional Integral Derivative) algorithm to keep the beer temperature within half a degree of the target temperature. The microcontroller controls a relay circuit to switch on the fridge when the beer is getting too hot and the heat mat when it is getting too cool.”
McGlashen also used Temboo’s Google > Spreadsheets > AppendRow Choreo to track the temperature of his brewing environment on a Google spreadsheet. He logged the temperature every 20 minutes, and also took a reading “if something interesting happened, like the fridge got turned on, or a variable was updated to better reflect the heating properties of my heat mat and quantity of beer I was fermenting.”

He found the fermenter’s data logging abilities to be especially useful when he traveled out of town: “I could keep an eye on the progress of my fermenting beer from my phone. With a simple chart in the Google spreadsheet I could watch the data in real time. I am sure other people like myself who love making stuff with technology and making beer would enjoy a project like this.”
His next step will be to add more sensors so that he can track other variables such as fermentation rate, and he also wants to integrate Google Calendar into his tracking system so that he can look back at data from the past and compare the fermentation processes of different brews to their tastes. He’s planning to use Temboo to enable him to adjust the temperature of the beer remotely as well. And, of course, he’s not just focusing on beer: “I will definitely be using Temboo with my electronics classes in the future to get their projects recording information online!”

We thought the whole enterprise sounded like a tasty Temboo application! Be sure to email us at hey@temboo.com if you’ve come up with any similarly creative ways to connect your hobbies and interests to the Internet of Things!

The Adafruit CC3000 WiFi Shield is Here!

The Adafruit CC3000 WiFi Shield is one of the most popular ways out there for makers to connect an Arduino board to the Internet, and the number of requests that we’ve gotten in the past several months asking us to introduce support for it certainly backs that up. Well, request no more! We’re very excited to now have the Adafruit CC3000 on the list of connectivity shields that we support, which also includes the Arduino WiFi, Ethernet, and GSM shields. Now, you can tackle more projects like building weather stations and connected security cameras more easily with Temboo’s IoT Mode. Break out your Arduino board and Adafruit shield, give it a try, and email hey@temboo.com to let us know what you create!

GirlDevelopIt: Success!

We had a blast with GirlDevelopIt last week! Twenty-two Makers came to StartUp Institute at WeWork in downtown NYC to learn a bit about programming hardware with Temboo and Arduino from four of our Temboo experts. Great fun was had by all, and we’re already looking forward to leading another workshop soon. Stay tuned for details!

The Temboo Adventures: GirlDevelopItNYC Edition

We are stocked and stoked! The components for the upcoming GirlDevelopIt workshop have arrived, and our desks look like a cross between the insides of a birthday pinata and the coolest hardware expo you ever saw.

We are thrilled to be teaching a workshop at WeWork, hosted by GirlDevelopIt, and spearheaded by three of our female engineers. On Thursday we’ll make Arduinos tweet, talk, and text—a movie theater’s worst nightmare, but a smart environment’s best friend. We can’t wait to create, make and code along with the GirlDevelopIt community.

Back to School with Temboo

If you’re someone who spends a lot of time in classrooms, this one’s for you! Just in time for the impending school year, we’ve released a brand new Education page for students, teachers, professors, workshop leaders, and anyone else who wants to teach or learn with Temboo. Whether you’re a middle school student learning about data collection, a master’s candidate working with interactive hardware, or a university professor leading a web development seminar, our free high-usage Education plans and resources will have you covered. Questions? Send us an email at education@temboo.com and we’ll get you up and running in no time! Happy studying!

Drumroll: Introducing The JavaScript SDK

Calling all JavaScriveners! We’ve just added JavaScript as our eleventh SDK so that you can do more designing and building on the web with all of Temboo’s 2000+ Choreos. Get started here and send us your thoughts at hey@temboo.com. We can’t wait to see what you create!

A Planetarium with Sense and Sensibility

Today, the more interactive the entertainment, the better—there’s an incomparable stimulant when a user’s actions affect the plot unfolding in front of his or her eyes. This principle drove a group of students at Kutztown University to make their campus planetarium interactive. “It is definitely a more meaningful experience when you can actually have a part in the show rather than just sitting back and watching,” explained Nate Renninger, a designer of the project.

“In simple terms, our project is a visualizer that uses multiple instruments, one being Twitter, to manipulate the appearance of an animation [projected onto the Planetarium’s ceiling]. This project was the result of a pitch our group had during the Interdisciplinary Team Project class taught by the brilliant Professor Josh Miller. We had a lot of motivation to do this because we wanted to create a way for each student to interact with the Planetarium like never before.”


The project in action.

The four pupils, Nate Renninger, Brandon Stack, Nicole Cresse, and Michael Pandel, created their responsive animation using Processing, Beads (for the music), and Temboo, particularly our Twitter Choreos. The audio came from different instruments and was digitized with an audio interface box. Adobe After Effects was used to create the array of images that played during the “mood” transitions of the exhibit.

These moods, ranging from “fun” to “angry,” were dictated by spectators’ Tweets, and were reflected in the facial expression and color of the animation on the ceiling. “There are so many cool things that you can do using the API from a social media platform. I’m very happy that we were able to interact with Twitter this way. The possibilities are endless,” Renninger said.

“We hope that this will inspire future experimentation with the Kutztown University Planetarium.”

We love seeing interactive projects that really engage an audience (and we think planetariums are cool, too)! If you are working on anything that challenges convention, send us an email to hey@temboo.com and you could be our next featured project.

Temboo and PagerDuty: Alert on the Internet of Everything

Today we have a guest post about our new PagerDuty Choreos from Vivian Au at PagerDuty; the post originally appeared on the PagerDuty Blog:

Our customers are natural tinkers and builders, and we’re excited to launch our integration with Temboo. Many PagerDuty customers have found great success in using our solution to alert the right person and teams when issues occur in their systems and software. Some PagerDuty customers have been applying our alerting and on-call capabilities to other unique use cases such as creating an on-call rotation for roommate chores and sending alerts when trees are illegally cut down.

Temboo offers a unique programming platform that normalizes access to 100+ APIs, databases, and code utilities to give developers the ability to connect to other applications without all the headache.

APIs are powerful, but require maintenance

Applications aren’t useful when they are siloed. APIs are a common set of requirements to help disparate applications to talk with one another. For developers, the need to maintain these integrations and keep up with API documentation is a hassle. Temboo sits on top of APIs to abstract the complexity from managing and integrating with other applications. With Temboo, you can generate just a few lines of code in the programming language of your choice from your browser, and use those few lines to easily incorporate the benefits of over 2000 API processes into your project.

Helping makers connect

Arduino is an open-source, lightweight computer designed to provide an easy way for makers to create devices that interact with their environment using sensors and actuators. The uses of Arduino are endless. With the ability to sense the environment, tinkers have created robots, thermostats, and motion detectors from scratch. Temboo partners with Arduino to make it easier for projects to interact with web applications. With Temboo, every Arduino can easily grab data and interact with web-based services like Fitbit, Facebook, Google, and now PagerDuty. Temboo’s integration with PagerDuty (aka PagerDuty Choreos) will make it easier for Arduino and other hardware to trigger PagerDuty alerts.

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For example, if you really want to buy a drone on eBay and want to get real-time alerts when it is listed, with Temboo’s eBay and PagerDuty Choreos, you can do just that. Or if you want to receive an alert whenever the humidity in your greenhouse dips below a certain level, you can use Temboo’s PagerDuty Choreos for that, too. Or even if you just want an alert every time the weather at the beach is warm enough to go swimming, Temboo and PagerDuty can take care of that as well—all this and more can be done with just a few short lines of code thanks to Temboo’s integration with PagerDuty.

Let your imagination take you far and away. Read this integration guide to start connecting PagerDuty with the Internet of Everything.

Tongue Twister of the Day: The Critter Twitter Trap

John Mangan, a friendly humanitarian, Vermonter, and self-declared “lazy engineer looking for creative solutions to do less work,” was battling a tiny home infestation and the ethical conundrum that such an infestation brings. For many, pests are always to be dealt with by extermination, but instead of going the traditional deadly route, Mangan wanted to find a more humane solution. A Maker at heart, he decided to buy Havahart cages and build his own connected IoT traps for the critters using Temboo.

“Havahart traps are really nice if you have pests to rid your home of but you don’t feel the need to do this through means of killing the animal,” Mangan explained.

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These caring control cages trap the animal alive, allowing you to release it into the wild; however, it wasn’t long before Mangan started to notice a troubling pattern:

The problem we are faced with is constant monitoring of the trap. If you forget to check back frequently, usually at least once a day, you risk having the animal die in the cage simply due to shock or anxiety. As a result, you end up being more cruel to the animal than if you had just put it out of its misery to begin with. It is this problem that spawned my “Critter Twitter Trap.” The goal is to be notified as soon as the trap is “sprung”—thus, we know when to check it.

Using an Arduino Yún, a tilt switch, and Temboo’s Twitter Choreos, Mangan was able to build a trap that will send him an alert whenever it is triggered, and he has written up an excellent tutorial for anyone looking to recreate what he calls “a simple modification to a common pest trap.” The Choreos allow him to send a Twitter message whenever the trap has been sprung—check out what happens on his Critter Trap Twitter account.

“Most of these posts were tests, but a few were live catches!”

The text of the messages is generated from Team Fortress 2, a video game, allowing each message to be unique. Mangan also receives a text message if anything new is caught.

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We love seeing an IoT spin put on traditional devices, so if you have any creative projects of your own, reach out to us at hey@temboo.com. You might be our next featured story!