Ceiling fans, thermostats, mailboxes and light fittings. It seems that no matter which direction you look in a smart home of the future you'll find a connected appliance interacting with its environment in one way or another. These smart devices generally feature hardware that's been carefully designed with a very specific purpose in mind, but what if there was more of a "one-size-fits-all" solution? British company Hanhaa is looking to offer inventors an easier route to the so-called Internet of Things, with a multi-purpose sensor kit that can be adapted to various tracking or monitoring applications within minutes of breaking open the box.
In developing Symbisa, Hanhaa is essentially looking to enable people who might have bright ideas for the Internet of Things, but lack the technical know-how to turn them into a tangible products. The Symbisa board measures 45 x 75 mm (1.71 x 2.95 in) and features humidity, temperature and ambient light sensors, along with a 3-axis accelerometer and GPS module.
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Through this multi-pronged functionality, the thinking is that Symbisa can be easily worked into devices that serve all kinds of purposes. Sticking it on your bike could help track its whereabouts if stolen, embedding it in a dog's collar could alert you if it runs away, or it could be planted in your garden to make sure the humidity is right to grow fresh, wholesome basil. You get the idea.
Symbisa is powered by Intel's Quark microcontroller D2000, a pair of lithium batteries and relies on GSM/GPRS modules and a GSM Quad Band antenna for connectivity. The user interface is being designed for a phone or tablet, where inventors will be able to configure Symbisa to track the desired elements of the environment and set trigger points for certain readings, like a garden that is receiving too much warmth, for example.
Because it's based on MIT's Scratch programming language for kids, Hanhaa says creating commands will be as easy as dragging and dropping icons.
For more advanced users, Symbisa also features an expansion slot to accommodate other sensors and a connection for a 2.9-inch e-paper display.
Hanhaa is currently raising funds on Kickstarter for the commercial production of Symbisa. Early pledges of £50 ($US76) will have one of the kits sent your way in August 2016, if the campaign runs as planned. This pledge level also includes 4,000 of what the company calls "events" – defined as communications between the user and the device. The company intends to support the platform by charging a micro fee for each "event" so that you only pay for what you use, and costs are not dependent on where your device is or what network it's running on.
You can check out the Symbisa promo video below.