Exploring the ‘Internet of Things’ with Cuckoo Quack and Arduino Day 2014

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Here at Cyber-Duck, we’re celebrating the global ‘Internet of Things’ Day; there’s no better time to think about the huge potential of being able to transform an everyday object in the real world by connecting, and making it react, to online activity. We’ve been exploring the idea through the ‘Cuckoo Quack’ project, where the team modified an old cuckoo clock, to become an online notification system.

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The ‘Internet of Things’ was the theme of our last internal ‘Quack Hack’ Hackathon, where we grouped ourselves into teams to create new, ambitious projects within a 32 hour period. One such project was The ‘Cuckoo Quack’; an antique cuckoo clock that has been transformed into an online notification system. It can be triggered by emails, tweets or by notifications from iRequire and Floodgate (applications for project management and website bug alerts created by the team as part of a previous hackathon). The information is fed through a Raspberry Pi and Arduino, to trigger the ‘cuckoo’ of the clock to chime and pop out, grabbing the attention of everyone in the office! Messages are also displayed on an attached LCD screen, along with flashing LED lights in the eyes of the rubber ducks. For more about how the clock was made, watch our video opposite!

In March, Benjamin and Sofia joined in the Arduino Day 2014 celebrations by attending the London Arduino Group’s day of inspiring talks, workshops and demos, held at the London College of Communication. Here, Benjamin was invited to showcase the Cuckoo Quack, as a fantastic example of the potential of Arduino technology. As part of his presentation, Benjamin also shared the roadmap for potential future developments to the clock; he revealed how the project would be extended by adding sensors, so data can also be received from the clock (as currently, information is fed to it), or through using the new Arduino Yun to replace the Raspberry Pi.

Watch this video to see the process involved in the making of the clock. Further technical information about the project is available here.

The other talks and projects of the day were equally captivating, and really highlighted the huge imagination and potential of the creative maker community. Kieron Kirkland revealed how we can use Arduinos to build ‘Digital Magic’ tricks, highlighting the importance of the particular ‘story’ or narrative you wrap around what you’re making; similarly, we loved watching Martin Lindupp’s Quadcopters take flight, which were based on Arduinos and controlled by Javascript.

Lastly, Michael Margolis’ talk made us think about the future in a slightly different way. The famous author of ‘Arduino Cookbook’ finished his presentation by considering how Arduinos can support how robotics are taught to children; learning programming is incredibly important, both as a language and as a way to improve their logical reasoning, creative thinking, problem solving, collaboration skills. Visual coding tools have been developed to make this much easier for children at a young age, as they can avoid syntax errors by using ‘drag and drop’ code blocks; a great example of this kind of tool is Ardublocks.

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