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Home automation kit includes Arduino, RasPi dev boards

Jul 19, 2013  |  Eric Brown
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WigWag developed a home automation kit that combines a Linux-based 6LoWPAN router with sensor units running the open-source Contiki OS. Controllable via an Android smartphone app in conjunction with a WigWag cloud service, users can add ZigBee, Bluetooth, and other modules to expand the home network, and a development kit includes shields for the Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

Austin Texas-based startup WigWag has more than tripled its $50,000 funding goal on Kickstarter since posting on the site on June 19, and still has a month to go. A wide variety of funding packages are available, with shipments expected in November. These range from $139 for a WigWag starter kit with one Relay router and a Glowline — a spool of LED lighting that includes ambient light sensors — to $579 for a Relay and a mix-and-match set of 10 Glowlines and universal Sensor Blocks.




WigWag Sensor Block (top) and Relay router
(click images to enlarge)

 

The modular home automation system builds on two open-source operating systems — Contiki on the microcontroller-based Sensor Blocks, and both Contiki and embedded Linux on the Relay router. (See farther below for more on Contiki.)

Users control the devices using a smartphone app — initially Android-based — via a cloud service, letting them remotely respond to events such as motion detection. Developers can create rules-based scripts for controlling devices using WigWag’s Javascript-based “DeviceJS” development environment.



WigWag Android app screenshots

 

The Sensor Blocks run Contiki on a Freescale MC1322 microcontroller. Each device is equipped with a universal sensor array that includes humidity, temperature, sound, vibration, motion, contact, and ambient light. The palm-sized devices also include an electronic relay to connect to devices like garage doors or sprinkling systems, and an IR receiver to set up an IR “trip wire” between devices or to control TV access.

Analog and digital expansion ports are designed for attaching future devices like plant moisture probes and contact sensors. Each Sensor Block runs on four AA batteries or an included USB power adapter.



WigWag Glowline kit
(click image to enlarge)

 

The 2.5-meter Glowline, meanwhile, provides smart LED lighting controlled by a small adapter, which is sort of a stripped-down version of the Sensor Block. The adapter includes ambient light and motion sensors, and enables color and brightness controls, lighting effects, and sync with other lighting.

The Sensor Blocks can blink or play alert sounds, but they’re primarily designed to alert users by tweets, texts, and emails via the router and the WigWag cloud service. Inside each Sensor Block, as well as the Relay router, is a 6LoWPAN (IPv6 over lowpower wireless area networks) radio. Like ZigBee, the IETF’s 6LoWPAN standard is a short-range wireless technology, but requires less processing power on the device end. It’s also more easily adapted to connecting to the Internet, making it a good match for the so-called Internet of Things.

Built around the IPv6 protocol, 6LoWPAN leverages the same low-power IEEE 802.15.4 specification used by ZigBee. However, it is now being adapted for use over other wireless and wired technologies like Power Line Control (PLC), Low Power WiFi, and Bluetooth networks. 

The Sensor Blocks are marked with QR codes and also include NFC radios. This provides two ways to quickly “discover” the devices via a smartphone app without pairing or passwords. WigWag can also discover third-party products that integrate 6LoWPAN such as the Philips Hue and Belkin WeMo smart lighting systems, says the company.

The Relay router runs Linux on a 1GHz, Cortex-A8 based Allwinner A10 system-on-chip, backed up with 1GB of DDR2 RAM and 2GB of flash stored on a removable SD card. Like the Sensor Block, it also runs Contiki on a Freescale MC1322 microcontroller to control the built-in 6LoWPAN radio. The Relay has three USB ports for adding WiFi, ZigBee, Z-Wave, and Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) dongles, enabling the WigWag network to expand to third-party, non 6LoWPAN devices. It also offers a serial port for connecting additional devices directly.

The Relay runs WigWag’s open-source DeviceJS JavaScript development platform. Built on Google V8 and Node.js, DeviceJS is designed to respond to sensors and control devices.

Together with processing performed on the WigWag cloud platform, DeviceJS enables the development of a variety of conditional scripts. For example, developers could write a script that turns a fan on when the humidity rises, creates a log of when people enter or leave a room and then sends a report to Dropbox, or places a sensor on a porch that sends a text to the user when a package arrives. Lights can be turned on when motion is detected, and sprinklers can be controlled in response to changing conditions.

With DeviceJS, WigWag also provides sensor fusion algorithms that enable actions based on feedback from multiple sensors, says the company. WigWag can continue to operate even when the Internet is turned off. It can also be set up so users can share access to the system on a temporary or permanent basis, says the company.
 

WigWag Development Kit

A $249 hardware development kit includes a WigWag Experiment board and an Arduino shield, both of which can emulate a sensor device with 6LoWPAN functionality. The kit also includes a Raspberry Pi shield, which together with a Raspberry Pi board, can also function as a Relay router running DeviceJS. Each kit comes with a Sensor Block, a Relay router, and three unique QR/NFC tags. When WigWag launches in November, software for the Arduino and Raspberry PI shields will be posted on Github, and hardware designs for the development kits will also be supplied.



WigWag Development Kit boards
(click image to enlarge)

 

Contiki: an open-source OS for the Internet of Things

The WigWag Sensor Blocks, Glowlines, and Arduino shields all run Contiki, an open-source operating system designed to run microcontroller-based systems equipped with 6LoWPAN networking. Contiki also supports devices that use RPL and CoAP wireless standards. Contiki applications are written in standard C, and a Cooja simulator can be used for network emulation.

Contiki offers features like memory allocation, IPv6 and IPv4 networking, power management, and dynamic module loading and linking at runtime. A ContikiMAC radio duty cycling mechanism enables battery-operated “sleepy routers” to sleep between each relayed message. A typical router configuration can run Contiki on less than 10K of RAM and 30K of ROM, says the Contiki project.

WigWag’s entertaining Kickstarter video appears below.



WigWag Kickstarter promotional video

 

WigWag is one of a number of recent Linux-ready home automation systems that incorporate smartphone access via a cloud service. These include Check-It Solutions ZigBee- and Z-Wave-enabled CG-300 Controller, which is targeted primarily at energy management applications. Another platform called the Ayla Platform (pictured at right; click to enlarge) supports secure device-to-device communications for devices including kitchen appliances, thermostats, water meters, lighting, fitness equipment, and medical devices.
 

WigWag is available now in Kickstarter pre-sale funding packages ranging from $139 to $579, and the hardware development kit costs $249. Shipments are expected in November. More information may be found at the WigWag Kickstarter page, as well as the WigWag website.
 

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PLEASE COMMENT BELOW

One Response to “Home automation kit includes Arduino, RasPi dev boards”

  1. Henrik says:

    Cool!

    You should also check out the MySensors project if you want to add some wireless sensors to your setup. We use the low price nRF24L01 radio together with Arduino.

    Website:
    http://mysensors.org/

    Arduino library code @ Github:
    https://github.com/mysensors/

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