You only need look as far as the Raspberry Pi to know that a huge number of people are passionate about DIY electronics, and a new kit called MESH (Make, Experience, Share) is intended to make coming up with your own clever projects easier than ever. From customized alarm clocks to trash cans that thank you for recycling, it's claimed to open up a host of possibilities for amateur inventors.
There are two parts to MESH: a series of Bluetooth-enabled smart tags and a software platform that ties them all together. The tags are input/output modules and include a push button, an accelerometer, an LED light and a GPIO (General-Purpose Input/Output) tag that can be programmed with more advanced functions as necessary.
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The easiest way to understand MESH is to look at what it can do. You can use the accelerometer tag on a door to automatically alert you when the kids get home from school, for example, or use the button tag to control a camera from afar, or set up an automatic plant-watering system for times when you're away from home. All of these projects can be accomplished with little or no coding knowledge, so it's slightly more accessible than something along the lines of the Raspberry Pi.
A lot of the best ideas showcased by the MESH team make use of the accelerometer tag: lights that turn on when you pull up a desk chair, a trash can that says thanks when you pop something through the lid, a dumbbell that tracks your reps, and so on. The accompanying iPad app adopts a straightforward drag-and-drop interface so tags can be connected to actions in seconds.
Expanding the project
An API is available to plug in third-party services, from weather forecast apps to light sensors, and a tag can trigger an email or a sound from your iPad's speaker. The campaign page promises that support for more third-party hardware and software, as well as more actual tags, will be added in the coming months.
The MESH team is made up of a small group of engineers in Sony's seed acceleration program. The program encourages employees to explore concepts not usually within Sony's remit, before crowdsourcing the funding required to make them a reality. You may remember the FES Watch was launched in the same way last November.
It seems having Sony's big name appeal has helped push MESH towards its funding goal, which originally stood at US$50,000. At the time of this writing, $60,716 has been pulled in, with sets still available to order for $119 and above. Delivery of the first kits is estimated for May. View the video below for a guide to some of MESH's key features.