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10 kits to get you started on the Internet of Things and hardware hacking

Kits designed to help you get started on making your own gadgets without getting bogged down in technical detail.
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Topic: CEBIT
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1 of 10 Image: Relayr

If you've ever wanted your cookie jar to tweet you when it's being raided, you'd probably like the Internet of Things (IoT).

IoT devices are everyday items with added sensors, motors, and other electronics, which are connected to online services to analyse the data they collect.

The €179 Wunderbar, which won the Code_n startup competition at CeBIT trade show, is one of many kits aimed at people building prototype IoT gadgets.

The chocolate bar-shaped device includes seven wireless sensors measuring light, proximity, and more. Each module can be stuck on surfaces and monitored and controlled from a smartphone.

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2 of 10 Image: IBM / ARM

The mBed IoT Starter Kit is aimed at removing common roadblocks when creating an IoT prototype.

Produced by IBM and ARM, the £79 kit provides developers with a low-power ARM-based board along with compatible sensors, LEDs, and other electronics. This board can be connected to the IBM Internet of Things Foundation, an online portal that authenticates the device and allows it to channel data to IBM Bluemix services.

IBM Bluemix offers services to analyse, store, and visualise collected data, as well as to send commands back to the device based on the information it receives.

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3 of 10 SAM Labs

SAM gives children the building blocks they need to create an IoT appliance.

Sensors, lights, and motors are packaged into blocks that can be wirelessly linked together into a device, for instance a motor block could make a hand wave when a button is pressed.

Each block communicates wirelessly using Bluetooth and can be connected to the SAM Cloud module, which links them to an internet-connected app. The app sends the blocks commands, with blocks able to be programmed using a drag-and-drop interface in a Flow-based programming environment.

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4 of 10 Image: Thingsee

The Thingsee One bundles sensors and internet connectivity into a compact device that can talk to a mobile app.

Thingsee One has various uses. Attach it to the lid of a post box and it could text you when you receive mail, or put it in a child's bag and it could help a parent track their whereabouts.

Inside the device are accelerometers, a gyroscope, magnetometer, GPS unit, temperature, humidity, pressure, and light sensors. Wireless connectivity is handled via GPRS, wi-fi, and Bluetooth LE 4.1.

Its designers claim the battery can last for a year, allowing it to be used in remote locations.

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5 of 10 Image: Supermechanical

Twine is another box that contains sensors able to track the world around you.

The device can be used to detect opened doors, sudden temperature drops, and other changes in the home. It can notify you in numerous ways, including via email, tweets, and text messages.

Able to monitor temperature, vibration, and orientation, Twine can last for up to three months on AAA batteries.

The $149.95 device is programmed via the Twine web app, which allows users to configure rules along the lines of 'When this happens, do this'.

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6 of 10 Image: Inxus Interactive

The Verve 2 is a box that lets you start wrangling data from sensors and sharing it with online services.

Up to eight sensors measuring anything from light to motion can be plugged into the $119 Verve 2, which comes with sensors and cables included.

Data is accessed via the Verve 2 app, which also allows you to feed this data into internet services such as IFTTT or your own programs.

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7 of 10 Image: Ninja Blocks

Ninja Sphere is a hub that can link to sensors and smart devices around your home.

By allowing different devices to wirelessly swap data, it should allow you to create some seriously smart home automation. For instance, if a homeowner were carrying a Bluetooth-enabled sensor, the Ninja Sphere could be set up to command smart switches to power off appliances when no-one was in the room.

The $299 Ninja Sphere connects to devices like the Belkin WeMo range, Dropcam, Pebble, Philips Hue, Squeezebox, and many more. It communicates wirelessly with devices via Bluetooth, wi-fi, and ZigBee.

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8 of 10 Image: Dexter Industries

BrickPi is designed to convert the $35 Linux computer, the Raspberry Pi, into a Lego robot.

The $149.99 product includes a board and case, and connects to Lego Mindstorms sensors, motors, and other parts.

The starter kit has a 9V battery that powers the motors, sensors, and Raspberry Pi and allows it to be untethered from the wall.

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9 of 10 Image: Kinoma

Kinoma Create is designed to make it easy for developers to create IoT devices and companion apps by letting them use JavaScript to connect sensors with web services.

The device contains a power-efficient CPU; wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity; and a capacitive touchscreen. It can connect to numerous external sensors, LEDs, and input devices.

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10 of 10 Image: WeIO

WeIO is a board designed to allow for rapid prototyping of Internet of Things devices.

Sensors can be plugged into the $69 board and configured to talk to each other, as well as to smartphones, tablets, and computers, using JavaScript or Python.

Apps to control devices and visualise data can be programmed from a web browser and viewed over any smartphone, tablet, or PC.

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