By April Glaser for WIRED.
The Internet is everywhere, and if you're down with using a smartphone to control everything in your life, the Internet of Things is a dream come true. The problem is living the networked Good Life generally means forking out the cash to buy connected gadgets ($67 for a lightbulb?) or being an adroit hacker.
A clever inventor offers a third option: Mesh, a DIY kit of small, wireless tags that attach to anything you want to make a little smarter. Stick a motion sensor tag on your door and get a push notification when it opens. Trying to get your orchid game on? The temperature and humidity tag will tell you when your house is too cold or too hot for the delicate blooms. Making a surprise photobooth for your kid's party is a snap--use the button tag to trigger a camera for candid shots.
Takehiro Hagiwara designed the tags, after realizing his morning routine of hitting the snooze button over and over had him oversleeping entirely too often. "One day I thought, 'What if I could relocate just the snooze button to the bathroom?' That way I would definitely have to get out of bed," he says.
Hagiwara wanted a simple way of making small, easy tweaks to existing gadgets. "It's easy for anyone to craft something with paper or clay, but when it comes to making electronics, it can be tough because people need to know circuits and programming," he says.
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Bringing Your Home to Life
Mesh doesn't require any coding know-how. The app, which works on a phone or tablet, features a simple drag-and-drop user interface. Choose the tag (there are seven in all, each with a different function), drag it into the sandbox, and start assigning it tasks or connecting it to other components from the dashboard. Anything is possible.
A camera app controls the camera on your device. A microphone, speaker, and notification controls offers still more possibilities. "If you were hosting a dinner party you could create a recipe for ambient music which automatically turns on low volume music streaming on your Bluetooth speaker when the room is quiet and will automatically turn it off when chatter in the room increases above a certain in volume," said Hagiwara.
Go IoT Without All the T
The tags are about the size of a domino, so they're unobtrusive and easy to hide. They're versatile, too. Instead of buying a few smart lightbulbs, a smart alarm, and a smart bowl for your dog--and dealing with all of the apps and UIs--a Mesh kit might have you covered. Even if you've already bought to bulbs, you could use a Mesh tag as a dimmer.
The kit isn't cheap--$190 for a set with four tags, or $60 for individual tags--but not much more expensive than dedicated IoT tasks when you consider their versatility. And, really, it's pretty freaking cool to build an orchid monitoring system yourself.
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