“Good technology is indistinguishable from magic”

Last week at Harvard we were fortunate enough to have some of the team from SAM Labs in the office to showcase their wares. Fresh from displaying their kits at the multi-story, multi-sensory pop-up department store Multiplex, and after a brief introduction, it became rapidly clear how effectively the folks at SAM Labs have streamlined the building blocks of the Internet of Things.

The array of little wireless blocks on display was divided into those that could sense and observe changes in their environment (pressure pads, light sensors, switches etc), and those that performed specific tasks at the behest of their counterparts (lights, motors, fans etc). Despite bearing a striking similarity to an introductory physics class, the ease and simplicity of the communicating blocks had us all wowed with their tech-magic. Drawing a digital line between two blocks on-screen instantly connected their real life counterparts and instantly made complete sense.

Much has been written in the media over the past few years on the various companies who are all trying to better enable people to grasp the necessary skills of the digital age. The Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and more recently Little Bits, have all laudably developed the idea that you shouldn’t need a degree in computer sciences to pursue technological innovation and creation. SAM Labs stands apart by providing the software that visualises your wireless creations in real time to help you build bigger and more complicated systems.

As with any of these education-focused toolkits, the capabilities of SAM’s digital Lego blocks are effectively governed by your imagination. The potential of effortless wireless connectivity may not be immediately apparent but just consider the fact that you can construct a device, with relative ease, which will feed your cat when you tweet #feedthecat. Truly the future is here.

By 2020 (no longer such a distant prospect) conservative estimates suggest that there will be over 80 billion devices connected to the internet. When you boil it down and see that this equates to over 10 connected devices per person (wireless cat-feeders included), the scope of the Internet of Things becomes abundantly clear. Although the Industrial Internet of Things is likely to have a greater lasting impact on our lives than a tweeting doorbell, an understanding of the basic principles of machine-to-machine communication is an essential in the digital age. Toolkits like SAM Labs’ are crucial for enthusing and educating the next generation of innovators and inventors.

Photo credit: Dezeen

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