We had the second meeting of the Tokyo Hackerspace today and I got a chance to present the design idea I had with the development boards. The response was more positive than I expected. We also got a chance to discuss what everyone wanted to get out of the group. I know I've mentioned this before, but there is a huge amount of IT brainpower and experience within the members. A lot of the interest centered on interfacing electronics with web services and physical computing. I'm still trying to get a handle on what physical computing actually is, but I suspect that it's where you interface a PC to real objects like sensor gloves and clothing. Rob Faludi, if you're out there, could you please enlighten me on this subject?
Anyways, one of the best things is that there is so much energy to learn and try new things. It's like the complete opposite of working with real engineers. I suspect that I'm going to learn more than they will when all's said and done.
In the meantime, one of the issues I think we're going to face is to distill all of the areas of interest into things that are do-able. I think the best way to describe this would be how to separate things into baby steps so that we can actually make progress on hardware hacking and cool projects. I was discussing this with one of the other electronics guys and we think that, on the electronics front, there needs to be some workshops on fundamental electronics and embedded programming. On the other side, I think that we also need to tap some of the computing brainpower for web services and how to access them, as well as the experiences of the artists, musicians, and chefs. Once we can start diffusing the knowledge and experience, I think there's no limit to the design possibilities.
One thing I'm pretty sure of is that Contiki and uIP are going to be really popular. I'm going to be bringing in the Raven wireless boards at the next meeting and showing them some basic Zigbee functionality as well as explaining 6LoWPAN (IPv6 over 802.15.4 for the uninitiated). I'm pretty sure that it's going to spark a lot of ideas.
Stay tuned, because I think this group has the power to realize a lot of the things that the WSN industry is just talking about. At least...(*buzzword alert*)...the Internet of Things, as applied to real things...