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Windows 8 to Electric IMP, "Well, hello there..."

Today's Hardware Friday from Kevin D. Wolf, is a a different piece of hardware, one we've not highlighted before, the Electric IMP and how to build a Windows 8 app to talk to it...

Talking to an Electric IMP with Windows 8

Ok – your first question is “What the hell is an Electric IMP?”  My lazy answer is - check out their web site for the best answer: http://electricimp.com.  

But in a nut shell, it’s a small little electronics module with the primary focus of connecting to the internet and controlling hardware.  This hardware can be something as simple as a relay to control a light or as complicated as a sensor that uses I2C, SPI or serial communications (UART).  You have six I/O lines that can be configured for your needs, so you aren’t going to control a small factory with only one of these, but configure a 100 or so of these and it might get interesting.  At this point, this “tech” is in a very early stage, the concept is very cool, but I don’t think I’d propose doing anything commercial or for a client, well at least just yet.

So let’s start where it all begins, here is my little Electric IMP that I purchased from Spark Fun

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In my picture above, you can see the green glow of some internal LED’s.  This is because I’ve already registered my IMP with Electric IMP’s server.  Everything you do with this IMP goes through their server.  Ok, you are probably now thinking what I was/still am thinking….”hmmm…actually I don’t know what to think about that…and…I’m still at the jury is still out point on this having long term legs…but it is sooooo cool, I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt”.

Ok back to the content, my IMP is green, if you plug a new one in, yours won’t be.  To get your IMP green, and thus have it registered so you can use it with the Electric IMP server, you need to signup for an account at http://electricimp.com, download an iPhone or Android (what no Windows Phone?!??) app.  Then, do something that I think is very cool, turn the lights down in your room, no seriously do this it works better in a darker room, run the app, follow the instructions and hold the screen of your non-Windows Phone device, next to the front edge of your IMP as pictured below and press the “Send BlinkUp” button on your “other type of phone”.

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Programming

So, next you’ll go to their web site with Chrome (another editorial note, they don’t support IE, but they say they are “working on it”, yyyyyeeeaaaahhh, I’m sure that’s towards the top of their priority list) and if you click on the “impees” you’ll see that your Imp has been registered.

My Imp

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Planner

Now we need to “program” the IMP.  Go to the “Planner” tab, find your IMP’s node and select the program you just created, in our case “MyFirstApp”.

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Now you've got a starting point. Take it and drive on!

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