Selected electronic prototypes for various clients

Customizable IoT Module
Problem: Entrepreneur wished to hide IoT end points behind wall board of home remodels and new construction
Solutions: Netify designed a universal end-point that could be customized for all required home automation applications, with continuous, wireless communication to the central IoT controller. A 3D printed carrier with breadboard section for custom components was also designed as the standard enclosure. Carrier was sized to sit flush on 2x4 wall studs and mounted with two wood screws.
Concepts proven:
  • 3D printed carriers with screw terminals and breadboard block are effective for all home automation tasks at hand without modification
  • Wireless connectivity to the controller sufficiently robust when placed carefully behind wall board.
  • 2x4 form factor was versatile and efficient

Web-friendly replacement to paper-based planning method
Problem: Client wished to adapt the paper-based project planning system used at his company to a paperless, Web-friendly equivalent, while retaining the hand-on, physical components that users wanted to retain. The existing system consisted of packs of index cards held together by binder clips and hung in certain positions on a cork board to track what progress was being made at a given time for individual projects.
Solutions: Netify designed and built electronic replacements for the index card packs with self-contained, wirelessly rechargeable batteries, cell-phone like monitors, and magnetic backing strong enough to hold them in place on a conference table or white board. The information presented on the blocks' monitors was controlled via the Web interface, and communicated via WiFi. A smart surface was developed that could detect where the blocks were placed and when they were moved. A Web view of the physical layout was available at any time via the Internet.
Concepts proven:
  • Manual paper-clipped index card systems can be economically replaced by paperless equivalents
  • Judicious use of embedded microprocessors enable blocks light enough to be secured to standard magnetic white boards
  • Wireless recharging is possible through the white board material with some modification
  • Connectivity to server via WiFi and Web representation is highly appreciated by users, especially when working remotely

LazerShells Project
Problem: client wished to build a chain of indoor clay shooting arcades where enthusiasts could use their own rifles to shoot virtual clay pigeons projected on a wall, with a self-powered laser shotgun shell
Solutions: Netify designed and built microprocessor/battery/laser LED combination in a form factor that could fit into shotgun shells as small as 22 guage. A sensor at the base of the shell detected a trigger pull as the hammer dropped and generated a large voltage from a piezo-electric crystal positioned therein. This brief burst of voltage was sufficient to power the microprocessor that pulsed and encoded the laser LED so that a camera located in the arcade could interpret the aim and shooter. A virtual clay explosion was simulated if the laser identified a close hit. Choke selection was dialed into the shell by twisting the brass section that forms the base of any traditional shotgun shell
Concepts proven:
  • Laser LEDs can be encoded with internal microprocessor and made compact enough to fit into any popoular shell casing
  • Encoded lasers can be detected and decoded on a wall many feet distance
  • Aim and firing position can be discerned by external cameras
  • Enthusiasts do enjoy using their own rifles and saving money on shotgun shells when practicing on virtual targets
  • The enjoyment of competition and cost effectiveness overcame the loss of realism (sound and recoil) for most within the test audience

Dream Caster project
Problem: Artist working under commission wanted a way to feed his videos on demand remotely to playback devices given as corporate awards, which he refers to as video jewelry boxes
Solution: Develop and package a small monitor with microprocessor, position sensors, and WiFi/Internet connectivity to the artist's media server enabling each jewelry box to communicate through server calls over the Internet to server video stream utilities written in PHP
Concepts proven:
  • All required electronics were successfully integrated and mounted within the artist's wooden enclosure
  • Hall Effect sensors reliably detected the position of the jewelry box lid thereby displaying the artist's current video on the monitor when appropriate. An RGB LED mounted in the base alerted the jewelry box owner that a new video was available for viewing.
  • A Web interface was written for the artist to update the material presented on the devices, with links to RSS feeds and Watson Sentiment Analysis for automatically generating video content

Weather Station IoT project
Problem: Client wanted to distribute a low-cost weather station to subscribers for crowd-sourcing micro-climate metrics to be integrated into a comprehensive weather map and forecasting system
Solution: A 3D printed weather station was developed to continuously feed local weather conditions to the client's server over the subscriber's WiFi/Internet service
Concepts proven:
  • Costs can be reduced, and reliability increased by replacing traditional weather station moving parts, such as the wind direction indicator and wind speed anemometer with electronic equivalents
  • Wind speed and wind direction can be reliably detected without moving parts using ultra-sonic transducers
  • Though 3D priting can create the demonstration unit's enclosure shape, plastic injection molding would be more economical in mass production

Fob IoT Project
Problem: Client wanted to add a fob to his key ring that would control the IoT devices within his existing home automation system.
Solution: Build a translator that would receive the RF signal used by the key fob and convert to the equivalent wireless signal used by the existing home automation system.
Concepts proven:
  • The RF translation performed in software by microprocessor was efficient, though the range was limited
  • Packaging the translator was challenging in that each button on the fob required a manual equivalent

The IoT 'You've Got SnailMail' box
Problem: Client wanted to add standard off-the-shelf physical mailboxes to the existing home automation system such that any outgoing or incoming snail mail, even something as small as a single postcard, could be detected and alerted, either on a Web view, or by Twitter, or by SMS
Solution: Using existing, unmodified mailboxes, create a base with infrared sensors to detect the presence of a slip of paper, and send readings to the existing home automation wireless network
Concepts proven:
  • IR detectors are the most economical method for detecting small, almost weightless physical contents of an off-the-shelf mailbox
  • Existing features in off-the-shelf mailboxes can be exploited and retrofitted with the necessary sensing and wireless radio electronics