25 USD Hacker Friendly Electric Imp “WiFi-ises” Your Coffee Machine

Wi-Fi SD Card for IoTElectric Imp is a device in an SD card form factor that aims at providing Wi-Fi connectivity to household appliances at low cost and bringing the Internet of Things (IoT) closer to reality. The Imp will also connect to a Cloud service handled by the company (which is also called Electric Imp). The device Wi-Fi connection can easily be configured using an iOS or Android smartphone thanks to  BlinkUp, a patent-pending scheme supporting WEP, WPA and WPA2 encryption schemes as well as WPS setup.

Electric Imp developers expect this device to save resources (e.g. electricity) by taking into account environmental conditions (e.g. occupancy, temperature..), improve security & safety and overall provide better monitoring and control of devices. For example, this could enable support services to remotely diagnose a device, and provide timely customer support.

Electric Imp Hardware

Here are the Electric Imp hardware specifications:

  • ST Micro STM32 Cortex M3 MCU
  • 802.11b/g/n WiFi
  • 6 software configurable GPIOs with support for UART, I2C, SPI, analog in and out, PWM, etc…
  • Power Consumption
    • Sleep Mode: 6uA
    • Wi-Fi (idle): 10 mA
    • Wi-Fi (active transmission): 250 mA
  • Dimensions – 32mm x 24mm x 2.1mm

Software development is entirely done in a browser-based IDE (no SDK here) using Squirrel, a language similar to C/JavaScript. The code is then directly built an run in the Imp, and you can debug it with log messages sent back to the browser.

Software Developer Tool for Electric Imp
Electric Imp web-based IDE

Packets to/from the Imp are encrypted with TLS and an open API on the server allows devices to send feedback or be controlled via email, SMS, twitter, web pages…

The Imp behavior can be defined with the Planner, which is also part of this browser-based IDE, where you’ll be able to define timers, compare measurements, send events via twitter/SMS etc… The company plans to have an Electric Imp app store, where complex behaviors can be freely downloaded or purchased and imported into the planner.

Electric Imp Hannah (Click to Enlarge)

Three development kits for the Imp will be available:

  • April for basic prototyping (7 USD) – This kit will include a socket, an ID chip, and a power supply.
  • Hannah for hobbyists (25 USD) – This kit comes with a rotary knob, two push buttons, an RGB light sensor, a temperature sensor, a 3-axis accelerometer, a hall sensor, an RGB LED, two servo outputs, 5 spare GPIOs and an I2C bus.
  • Duino for Arduino users (20 USD) – This board based on ATMEGA328 MCU is compatible with Arduino Uno, but  has an Imp socket  instead of a USB to serial port. A modified version of the Arduino IDE is used to update the ATMEGA code. The ATMEGA can also operate in standalone mode when no imp card is inserted.

Electric Imp will retail for 25 USD and manufacturers should be able to buy the card in bulk for as low as 1 USD/pc at a discount and add an “imp slot” to their devices for less than 1 USD. Developer preview Imps and the developer kits will be available in June or July 2012 and the company expects vendors to sell Imp-enabled products later in 2012. For further detail, you can check out Electrip Imp page.

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7 Replies to “25 USD Hacker Friendly Electric Imp “WiFi-ises” Your Coffee Machine”

  1. “Electric Imp will retail for 25 USD and manufacturers should be able to buy the card in bulk for as low as 1 USD/pc.” … that almost sounds too good to be true (/ feasible). Is that a quote from the Electric Imp website? I only see “The Imp card itself will retail for $25. Discounted cards for bundling are available to manufacturers.”. A discount of 96% is quite hefty. And putting all the wifi and IO hardware for 1 USD sounds challenging?

  2. @ Sander
    That seems very low, but in the manufacturer page (http://www.electricimp.com/manufacturers/) they say:

    The solution we created not only deals with the technical issues, it also makes it possible to internet-enable a device for under $1, opening up whole new categories of devices that would never have been cost-effective to enable before: tweeting bird feeders, logging cat-flaps, greenhouse monitors….

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