Now, a Lego-like device that lets you create desired electronic devices

November 14th, 2007 - 5:41 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Nov 14 (ANI): The New York City-based company, Bug Labs, has created a line of customizable, Lego-like electronic gizmos that enables people to tailor their gadgetry to their needs.
Software developer Peter Semmelhack, also the founder and CEO of the company, found himself wanting a gadget that would allow him to know where his loved ones were at any given time — maybe a device with a GPS unit and a modem that would plot a person’s location on a map online.
“It’s not a complicated device. But it didn’t exist,” Discovery quoted Semmelhack, as saying.
However, now it does, for he has developed a line of Linux-based hardware modules that can be snapped together like Legos, enabling consumers to build just about any kind of electronic device they want.
According to Semmelhack, the Bug - still in a beta version - could be available to consumers by the end of the year.
“I’m really intrigued that they are planning to make everything open source. I think it’s a step in an interesting direction,” said Leah Buechley, a computer science researcher at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
At the hub of the system is the Bugbase, a component that consists of a CPU, 128MB of memory, built-in WiFi, a rechargeable battery, USB, Ethernet, and a small LCD screen.
Wannabe innovators can purchase Bugmodules — for now, including a digital camera and video camera, a GPS device, a touch-sensitive LCD screen, and a motion detector — that snap into the base.
Eventually Semmelhack wants to expand the number of available modules to 81, including such items as a bar code/RFID scanner and a CO2 detector.
An online community called the Bugnet enables users to share what they’ve built with other users, get feedback and trade advice. People will also be able to download specs and source code from the site to create their modules.
“I think the Web component is an essential part of any project like this,” Buechley said.
She said that not only can people build on what other people have built before, but also seeing what others are doing can spark creativity.
Semmelhack however believes that the online community and the fact that the components are open-source could upset the natural order of consumer electronics.
This could mean people shifting from buying electronic devices from a few big corporations, such as Sony and Samsung to buying cutting edge devices from a multitude of smaller companies.
“That would enable people or anybody to economically pursue niches that were impossible before,” he said.
From Buechley’s point of the view, the Bug Labs components are more sophisticated and more expensive than some other do-it-yourself kits, such as those from Arduino (a main controller costs 35 dollars) and the PicoCricket (mostly for kids, costing 250 dollars). (ANI)

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