The newspaper Ara is one of the newest newspapers in Catalonia. Every sunday there is a special magazine focused on new technologies and entrepreneurship. Last week, they interviewed our founder Marc Pous.
theThings.IO at the ARA newspaper
Translation in English
Marc Pous is a computer engineer and since some years ago he has been involved on the Internet of Things research scenario. That means, how to connect quotidian objects around us to the Internet and how people interact with them.
“The costs to make processors have decreased a lot and today is much easier to integrate computers inside objects: from watches, glasses, bikes or even plants at home”, says Pous, born in Barcelona. “One thing is to manage three or four mobile applications to interact these gadgets, but when we will have 30 or 40 gadgets connected to the Internet it will be much more complicated”, add the entrepreneur.
In June, Pous created the company Next Big Thing Labs SL with the goal to launch the platform thethings.iO, a kind of social network where users will be able to add and manage the information generated by their gadgets in real-time. “For example, if you run, the running application will share the running information with your scale; you also will be able to turn off your lights from your mobile device or see when do you need to water your plants”, says.
The Next Big Thing Labs team is composed by three people. They are looking for 150.000€ as an investment to make a strong development team during the next years. “We want to lead the Internet of Things from Barcelona”, says Pous. The beta version will be available at the end of the year.
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As we mentioned some weeks ago, we attended the Sònar 2013 collaborating with the One Seat Away project. Simone Rebaudengo, Ken Frederick, Daniel Kluge and Marc Pous with thethings.iO were working hard to have the One Seat Away at Sonar and their hard work paid off!
The Sofa of the One Seat Away project
Our main vision was to offer a new kind of interaction to citizens and Sonar attendants with music. Usually, we are familiar with interacting with music the our ears but why not convert the music into a haptic experience? By connecting objects to the Internet, we could send the physical music far away from the speakers played by DJs at Sonar music festival. In this case, we were exposing a sofa that was vibrating at the DJ’s Sonar Village vibe.
Getting interviewed by TVE during the Sonar+D
The components to connect an IKEA sofa
The IKEA sofa was connected to the Internet through and Arduino UNO and Arduino Ethernet shield. At the Sonar Village sound technician table, we set up a laptop connected with a MAX/MSP software in which was converting music into analog music and pushing it into thethings.iO every second. Through thethings.iO API connected to the Arduino, it was able to request a “music package” to thethings.iO API and sending the signal to the motors installed inside the sofa, making them moving at the vibe of the music.
The modulator of the vibe at the connected sofa
With some components we were able to modulate the potence of the vibe and the Arduino PWM. Like the volume on the music stereos.
Laptop converting music into analogical music
The experience of people feeling the music was a great! The visitors were showing up at our space sitting on the connected sofa experiencing a new way to feel the music. People were impressed with the sofa and the vibe. We enjoyed receiving positive feedback and we hope next year we have the chance to repeat this experience!
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It was an incredible honor to present thethings.IO at the startup competition of LeWeb London 2013. Surrounded with 15 other stunning startups, Marc Pous, the founder of thethings.IO made the presentation in front of investors and assistants.
We could not win the competition. It was not our main goal but it was an excellent opportunity to meet people interested on our startup and the new social network of the Internet of Things.
Awake and welcome to the Programmable World @ Wired US June 2013
The author explains clearly the next three steps of the Internet of Things:
For the Programmable World to reach its full potential, we need to pass through three stages. The first is simply the act of getting more devices onto the network—more sensors, more processors in everyday objects, more wireless hookups to extract data from the processors that already exist. The second is to make those devices rely on one another, coordinating their actions to carry out simple tasks without any human intervention. The third and final stage, once connected things become ubiquitous, is to understand them as a system to be programmed, a bona fide platform that can run software in much the same manner that a computer or smartphone can. Once we get there, that system will transform the world of everyday objects into a designable environment, a playground for coders and engineers.
At theThings.IO we fully agree with this evolution of the Internet of Things, with some comments.
For the first step more evangelizers are needed. From my point of view, most of the manufacturers and OEMs are still dubitative about the Internet of Things. The history says that people is not really interested on objects with embedded gadgets, such as the “smart” fridge, the “smart” coffee machine, et al. We must move from the gadget connected to the Internet to the object with a real value. That said, the openness of these objects is needed.
For the second stage, I could say that years of research have been granted innovating on this topic. Brokers, hubs, ESBs, lightweight M2M protocols among other technical names have been developed in order to make the interoperability a reality. As Bill Wasik pointed, Smart Things is doing an amazing work on that field with their hardware. Ninja Blocks is also working on this direction.
The final stage is the most interesting. We are focused on developing to make real this third stage. We truly believe that developers might be able to apply their innovation and creativity on the top of the Internet connected objects. Manufacturers will be empowered with objects with new functionalities. And finally end-users with objects that can be reprogrammed for free or just for few cents.
We love this idea of hacking objects… why a glass cannot be a flowerpot?
One Seat Away is an artistic project that aims at the exploration of the relationship between the rhythms of a musical performance and the hidden rhythms of a city such as Barcelona. The rhythm of a musical performance is typically measured in BPM (beats per minute), an easily detected value. However, within an urban space, there are multiple ways to define rhythm. There is a physical layer of people, noise, temperature, bikes shared systems. Then there is a virtual layer of activity in a city such as Foursquare check-ins, Facebook likes, Instagram pictures, Tweets among others, that remain mostly “hidden”. Their value reveals another side of how the rhythm of a city can be understood.
We will define the BPMs of the two environments and translate them into an experience that binds these two disparate contexts in real-time: bringing the rhythms of the festival into the city and the rhythm of the city into the festival.
The main goal of One Seat Away is to use connectivity and sensing to augment the sense of the urban space around us and merge it with music and rhythms as a way of experiencing data in a tangible way: something that one can feel and not necessarily have to understand in detail or rationally decode.
How does it work
The project will connect daily objects such as sofas and chairs to Internet. The sofas and chairs will receive the sensed data processed from the real-time Sónar music being played and converted into vibration. In the same way that one can feel music outside of an event without “hearing” it via vibrations of physical structures, we want people to feel and experience the rhythm without actually hearing it.
Jan Chipchase wrote a post where he talked about how some of his Internet-connected devices made him feel guilty when he wasn’t using them anymore. The purpose of this post was triggered by an email from Twine telling him that he wasn’t using his Twine enough.
This type of email is one demonstration of the new source of data generated by the Internet of Things. Most companies are becoming interested in the amount of usage of your device. They want to know where you use your things, when, why, what you are doing when you are using this thing, how many times, and what things you use together.
Canon EOS 500D (Flickr by sindykids)
These companies want to gain an understanding on how we use our devices and therefore will try to market us better from that understanding. For example, imagine that you have a Cannon EOS 500D, a basic camera, but imagine that Cannon could know that you have a normal zoom lent and you have been taking several photos with zoom. With the Internet of Things, this is possible and advertisement will be more focused on what you do and how you do it. Thus, privacy will be more and more complicated with Internet-connected objects around.
At thethings.IO we believe that data made from users is user’s data. Therefore, users have the right to own their own data and give access to this data to third parties which will receive ads and coupons.