The OpenPicus community released a wi-fi module called FlyPort. It is a small device that uses the Microchip PIC24F (256K Flash+16K Ram, 16Mips@32Mhz) and MRF24WB0MA/RM WI-FI certified module. FlyPort runs a wireless Stack (TCP/IP version 5.25 from Microchip) and has a 26 Pin connector for easy prototyping. Applications and libraries are open source and can be freely downloaded from the openpicus website. Programmers have full control of the wi-fi module, thus the Flyport can act as tiny Web server and client that can directly interact with other Web resources directly, without requiring a gateway. Besides, this project has a social aim too, they give away free development kits for students and universities that want to develop their applications on this platform, as long as they want to share the code and results with the community (mail us if you are interested by such a kit, or just write in the comments and we’ll get back to you). According to the project’s founder, Claudio Carnevali, the Flyport will be available soon to a wider public for less than 30 Euros each.
We have seen more and more projects around embedded wi-fi modules, and we believe this direction will have a strong impact in making the Web of Things happen. For a few bucks more, every electric appliance out there could host one such wifi module on-board, and coupled with a Web server on it this. For example, companies such as RedPine, GainSpan, ZeroG Wireless (that has been recently acquired by microchip), or G2 Microsystems are among the key players to watch in this area, and I’m sure that we’ll see a proliferation of Web-enabled appliances in the next years [ thou, smart fridge, will u finally become real?? 😉 ]
Now that wi-fi chips are virtually easy to integrate in appliances, the next important step to make WoT happen is to also offer a free, easy to use high-level programming environment that would allow people to fast prototype Web of Things applications on top of the wi-fi substrate – just like the Arduino did, but on a even higher level. Instead of learning how to read and write signal to digital & analog pins, developers could interact with these devices simply through a RESTful Web API. After a great discussion I had last october with Massimo Banzi (co-inventor of the arduino), the next stage is clearly a wifi version of the Arduino (nothing disclosed about that yet), which would make it straightforward to also run a Web server on it. I can’t wait for the day this will happen.
[Thanks to Claudio Carnevali for providing us this information and we’re looking forward to the evolution of the OpenPicus project]