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Saint Malo Mini Maker Faire

This post is coming to you live from the Saint Malo Mini-Maker Faire—the first Maker Faire in France—being held at the IUT de Saint-Malo here this weekend.

Draško Draškovic (left) and Uroš Petrevski  (right) demoing the prototype WeIO board at the Saint Malo mini-Maker Faire

Draško Draškovic (left) and Uroš Petrevski (right) demoing the prototype WeIO board at the Saint Malo mini-Maker Faire

Uroš Petrevski and Draško Drašković, two makers from Parisian design agency nodesign.net, used the Saint Malo mini-Maker Faire to unveiled a new board, the WeIO. The board is intended to be a “web of things” platform. Their new board is entirely open source—the schematics, board design files and the bill of material—you can assemble the board yourself if you want to.

With both a Qualcomm Atheros—which has built in Wi-Fi—running a version of OpenWRT Linux (much like the Arduino Yún) and an ARM Cortex-M0 processor, providing GPIO, Analog to Digital convertor, PWM signal generator and native interfaces for Serial, i2c and SPI interfaces, there’s plenty of power on the board.

The advantage of using the Atheros is that this chip is widely available—it’s commonly used in WiFi routers. However it doesn’t have Analog to Digital interface or PWM, hence the addition of the cheap ARM Cortex. However the addition of the extra processor means that you can drive hardware in real-time, you’re not going to have blocking problems with SPI or PWM, which in many cases need specialised extra hardware when handled in software on boards like the Raspberry Pi.

Building an application on the WeIO prototype board.

Building an application on the WeIO prototype board.

The software behind the board is fairly mature—it’s based on Python powered WebSocket server designed to allow you to build an asynchonuous event-driven web app using HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript. Like the BeagleBone’s Cloud9 development environment and BoneScript, the WeIO’s development environment runs on the board itself. However unlike the BeagleBone the WeIO supports both Javascript and Python in its environment—the Python environment is meant to build stand-alone applications.

The WeIO Prototype (left) next to a 3D printed mock-up of the real board (right)

The WeIO Prototype (left) next to a 3D printed mock-up of the real board (right)

Unlike the software stack, the hardware they were showing off today in Saint Malo was a pre-production prototype. They’re hoping to crowd-fund the hardware in the near future.

I talked to Uroš Petrevski about the design of the platform,

When we conceived this platform we thought about it from the design perspective. It was not technology driven. Making the Internet of Things is a complex cross-domain problem, and thinking about the interface from a design perspective makes things simpler for the end-user. One of the strategic things about the board is that all of the development tools are on the web—it’s a graphical environment—that means you can develop new graphical developer tools that have never existed before. The idea of having everything embedded on the board, in one place, is the added-value not the electronics.

Alasdair Allan

Alasdair Allan is a scientist, author, hacker, tinkerer and co-founder of a startup working on fixing the Internet of Things. He spends much of his time probing current trends in an attempt to determine which technologies are going to define our future.


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