Makers

Highlights of Maker Faire Paris

Startups, independent inventors and well-established companies have been showing their latest innovations and “mods” to the crowds at Paris Maker Faire.  It often all starts with a simple every day object, which, thanks to sensors and tiny “mini computers” like Intel’s Edison and Galileo modules, can become connected and “smart.”

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Table football but better

This table football game is a good example of how a basic game can become intelligent and connected. The company Foostar placed a series of sensors either side of the goals to detect the position of the ball and calculate its speed. Display, audio and lighting systems were also added. With everything connected via Galileo, the game is much more fun, with the scores displayed, applause and other sounds, and lights illuminating when a goal is scored.

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Another advantage is that this type of installation is very simple and can evolve very easily. Fans of Lego will appreciate the similar logic of connecting elements to a board. Here, to generate sound, a pair of speakers is simply connected via USB.

A connected home

One of the start attractions on the Intel stand was a connected home complete with bedroom, living room and even a garage with a sliding electric door. With the addition of an Intel Edison module and some sensors, lights, a bell and a camera, this tiny house was able to simplify everyday living in ways which have previously only been shown in science fiction films.  The external camera shows who’s ringing the door bell. For the light, it’s just as simple. When the sensor detects a movement around the house the lights comes on. It can be disabled for any prolonged absences or holidays.

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Nothing very new in that you might think. It’s a sophisticated and powerful home automation system but it’s hardly revolutionary. And yet the key here is to create an intelligent system from elements operating independently. Up to now, we’ve had one remote control to activate the garage door, an often proprietary system for heating, another for lighting and yet another for remote monitoring. In this house, all the elements interact thanks to the Edison module which interconnects and controls them.

Finally, let’s look at the Flylab drones which could soon benefit from the Edison module and its calculation power to process the vast amount of information gathered: video streams, real-time streaming, etc. Swarming is also a possible avenue but requires precise and specific programming and therefore a particular calculation power. But these drones could also be equipped with multiple sensors. In fact, Flylab is working on a drone prototype for firefighters that could incorporate a thermal sensor, camera and lighting system and could deliver objects such as a survival kit.  The only limit is imagination.

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