Ideas for an Internet of Things

With the growth of technology, rapid prototyping and the world of makers we have the opportunity to easily develop new concepts. Ideas, though are best shared and developed. This page is intended as a starting point for these. I would welcome further suggestions or collaborators for these projects. Feel free to drop me a line.

Title #catselfie
By Mark Brill
Tags Cat, Cat Selfie, Makey Makey, Arduino, IFTTT
Concept A machine that allows cats to take their own picture and automatically post to social media.
Applications Potential as a promotional tool – can be used by stray cats home to allow their cats to post to social media – potential adopters can follow the hashtag. Possible application as a PR/experiential for pet food brand.
Development Stage Working prototype built:·       Photobooth on Mac used to take photos·       Triggered by MakeyMakey (see diagram) – conductive pad, earthed. Conductive ball of wool in front of the camera linked to mouse click button.·       IFTTT posts from Dropbox to Twitter (@catselfiepics) on chosen hashtag.
Challengers/Barriers Finding cats for prototype (plasticine model was used).·       Requires Mac to be set up/loaned – is it possible to use a Raspberry Pi + webcam to do the same job more cheaply?·       Need to convince cats homes it’s a good idea!


Title The Internet of Clothes
By Mark Brill (based on a concept from John Dodd)
Tags Environment, Recycling, Charity, Socially Responsible Clothing, NFC, Beacons
Concept Most people own far more clothes than they need. They will sit unworn in a cupboard for years. The concept is based on Brad The Toaster, who puts himself for sale on Ebay if he isn’t used for a while. The clothes will contact Oxfam, who will send a return bag through the post, with a list of items to return.Alternatively if people are less altruistic, they could automatically post them a vintage clothing site (such as Depop).
Applications Charity promotional (and maybe fundraising) tool. Possibly for a retailer. The concept could also be applied to a wide range of unused home objects – sandwich toasters, at least.Proof of concept could be used as a promotional tool for Oxfam (or another charity).
Development Stage ·       Purely conceptual at this point, but plenty of interest from people.

Part of the Maker Monday project

Challengers/Barriers ·       How can we make connect clothes to IoT? Beacons might be an option. If the clothes move out of location, then it triggers an alert on an app. NFC might work better (dumb chips) but would need to be tagged in and out. Alternatively might need to focus on clothes hangers instead (only works for hanging items!).·       There may be a way to scan QR or barcodes? Perhaps make the wardrobe/drawers IoT ready?·       Would need to get the buy-in from Oxfam etc or maybe investment from Depop or similar? 



Title Infectious Disease Tracking System
By Mark Brill
Tags Health, Health Monitoring, Big Data, Infectious Disease Management, GSM
Concept Globally manage the spread of infectious diseases by monitoring mobile phone movements. Starting form an initial defined area and date, the system is able to show the movement of devices both locally and internationally by time. Probably best achieved as an overlay to Google Maps.Might also be able to do a simple count – how many phones in the area at a given time. How many of them have left the area (specific time), how many have entered the area since?
Applications Management of infectious diseases to identify areas to focus on for quarantine or vaccination.Could also be used in disaster management – eg check the number of phones in an area at time of disaster, less the number of phones that have left since. The remainder are the number of people left in the area.The system would be made available only to professionals in health (NOT governments) and only for specific emergencies.
Development Stage Concept only, however small scale developments have been previously used (eg Kenya for mosquitos). Main issue is getting access to the data (it would have to be anonymous) which would require cooperation with the operators via the GSM Association.The GSMA already have announced some kind of plans but no implementation.
Challengers/Barriers Largely bureaucratic (but considerable) – need to get GSM Association on board, possibly national operators and definitely WHO or other health organisations.Need to establish an organizational/management structure to avoid mis-use of the system.



Title The Dream Pillow
By Mark Brill (first proposed at Interactivos Birmingham, 2014)
Tags Health, Fitness, EEG, Sleep Monitoring, Sleep Disorders,
Concept The concept behind the Dream Pillow is simple. It can record your dreams and replay them to you. The ability to actually do that is someway off but the concept could be developed to create a pillow with sensors that can monitor a number of indicators whilst sleeping.
Applications The Dream Pillow was as conceived as an aid to psychological and above all, artistic development. With the contemporary concept, the pillow could be used to improve sleep quality, reduce stress and help with sleep disorders such as sleep Apnea.
Development Stage Concept only. I’m not aware if anyone has tried to put sensors in a pillow.Proof of ConceptThe first question is whether it’s possible to record brain patterns through a pillow. EEG caps can do it, but would it be possible to capture the data when it is inside a pillow. Next, we would have to match the brain patterns to other sleep related activity. This could be pretty straight forward using a fitness band and an app. Finally we would need to identify the relevance of the data to sleep.
Challengers/Barriers There are both technical and scientific barriers:·       Is it possible to monitor brainwaves from a pillow at all?·       Scientifically do we know how to interpret the data?



Title Haptic Telepresence
By Mark Brill
Tags Health, Haptic, Telepresence, Ultrasound, Physical Telepresence
Concept Haptic telepresence would allow someone to feel what another person is doing elsewhere. Haptic gesture control has already been developed by scientists using ultra-sound. The next logical stage is doing this remotely.
Applications Haptic is not a physical telepresence, so it wouldn’t be able to move large objects using ultrasound. However, there are obvious applications in medicine, such as remote diagnosis and possibly treatment such as areas of physio-therapy. There are also applications in teaching and other artistic ones. It might also offer a haptic element to social media.
Development Stage MIT is working on physical telepresence.Haptic gesture control has already been developed by the University of Bristol (and possibly others). They have developer kits which will be made available to academics in 2015. The principles of making it into a telepresence system are not insurmountable but would require some software and engineering skills to deliver a proof of concept.One option is to consider whether haptic can be combined with visual tele-presence, such as Musion/pepper’s ghost.
Challengers/Barriers Getting hold of developer kits from Bristol (not available yet).Would require access to ultra-sound equipment.Would also need a strong team of software and physical engineers.


Title WeCure
By Mark Brill
Tags Health, Genetic Analysis, Mobile, Mobile Data, Grid Computing, BOINC
Concept Our smartphones are always on, always connected but unused when we are asleep (so, around 8hrs every day). That is a significant amount of unused computing power. If enough smartphones could be harnessed it would offer more than a super computer available to unfunded or citizen scientists.The concept of grid computing is not new, but it has not been as effective as it could. There has been no large scale smartphone network, but could be viral due to sharing over social networks.
Applications Research into diseases that have (or may have) a genetic element – some cancers, degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s or Asberger’s.
Development Stage A detailed concept has been drawn up including some of the software architecture and potential partners.The user system would be based on an app where they could choose parameters; any preference of the disease to help, amount of monthly data on offer, WiFi only and plugged connection.At the science end, the system would use open source software called BOINC that allows data to be chunked across computer networks (ie smartphones or tablets)
Challengers/Barriers Largely bureaucratic (but considerable) – need to get GSM Association on board, possibly national operators and definitely WHO or other health organisations.Need to establish an organizational/management structure to avoid misuse of the system.


Title The Telepresent Shirt
By Mark Brill
Tags Health, Haptic, Telepresence, Ultrasound, Physical Telepresence, Wearable
Concept This is a low cost t-shirt or nightshirt aimed to allow loved ones to communicate when they’re apart. A remote user can remotely send a ‘hug’ to the wearer, making the shirt vibrate. They can also send a ‘heart’ by sending their heartbeat which will pulse both vibrations and light, they can also send ‘waves’ which will create ripples of light on the shirt’s LEDS.
Applications This is intended as a fun device, but could be helpful to families and couples living apart. Rather then sending a text, it can act as a simple reassurance to say ‘I’m there’ or ‘I’m OK’.
Development Stage Concept – but workable the hugs, hearts and waves can be triggered by smartphone (connected to a fitness band) or another shirt
Challengers/Barriers In clothing LEDs (such as cute circuit)Vibration deviceSmall lightweight computer (Raspberry Pi, maybe)Heart-rate sensor

Galvanic sensor (helps to sense emotions)

Software to work off the devices (apps etc)


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