The particle photon maker kit I ordered arrived and I finally was able to take it for a spin and I’m quite impressed. A tiny wifi enabled chip that can realise almost any IoT fantasy you conceive, Within few minutes of unpacking it, I was able to get it online and within an hour I had my first project up and running.
The chip itself is surprisingly small, small enough to make it possible to embed it into most fabrications, and it has a very low profile as well. But the real selling point in my opinion is the cloud backend, particle managed to greatly reduce the hassle required to set up an arduino IDE by providing it through a neat and simple web console. Being an IoT chip relying on the internet for most of its features can’t be held against it, the photon is built to be used in use cases in which internet is available naturally its a lot less impressive without internet connectivity.
Unlike Arduino there is no IDE , instead you build your “sketches” in the cloud, and then flash it wirelessly to the device of your choice, this allows for easier upgrade if the devices are embedded and physical access is challenging. You can still use the micro USB to connect to a laptop and debug over serial much like you would with an Arduino, a node.js spark CLI framework is required though for this to work.
For my first project I decided to build something simple and fun. A realtime desktop data display device, an paper lantern that lights up in different colours to alert me of programable events. The great thing about particle products is how they can be represented as a channel on IFTTT, so you can program it to respond to any of the numerous IFTTT triggers.
I’ll discuss the implementation and code of my project in my next entry.