Published on 10 January 2014
On 3rd December, I attended ThingMonk, an IoT conference bridging the corporate and maker IoT communities. I've tried to pull out the interesting platforms, talks and themes into this post.
It was at Shoreditch Village Hall a great venue, free for non-commercial events (I think), excellent coffee.
tl;dr node.js, MQTT and Node-RED were mentioned many times, as was Clojure, stream-based and reactive programming paradigms. There are lots of competing platforms for managing your IoTs but little interoperability. There was an excellent talk on UX for IoT talking about "interusability", the experience across devices with different capabilities.
"Standards are like toothbrushes - you know you need one but you don't want to use someone else's"
Several talks argued that monolithic codebases make systems unreliable and unsuitable for managing fleets of devices. Several paradigms were suggested as solutions:
"A visual tool for wiring the IoT". Impressive demo creating a twitter hashtag searcher that was displayed on a small LED display. All done with drag-and-drop components, like Yahoo! Pipes. Writing and sharing modules seems straightforward.
Patrick Bergel asked about the visibility of IoT products in puntastic talk "Thingdom come":
Products should aspire the "condition of cutlery" with a dumb core that works like a non-IoT product and a smart shell that augments it with networked capabilities.
Claire Rowland (@clurr) gave a great talk about designing products that are useful, usable and pleasurable to use. She designs connected products like the British Gase Hive.
You need good UX to attract the "late majority" consumers. This requires:
A small interusability example: the Nest thermostat physical device has an electronic clicking noise when you turn the dial. The Nest native app using the same clicking sound when you press buttons.
Products vs tools:
Now that we've broken direct manipulation—where pressing a button, causes an action instantly—we must tell users where things are happening e.g. on the hub, on the internet, in the device etc.
Matt Webb (BERG) spoke about making Little Printer (they've sold 3,000) including pictures of prototypes:
Sounds like the UX, technical and experience prototypes from from "What do prototypes prototype?".
He also noted "they call it hardware because it's hard" so do as much as possible on the web.
Tom Taylor, Newspaper Club
Echoed Matt Webb's advice: Use digital to your advantage when building physical products because "the physical world is hard and different".
Things to think about:
"A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch newer works and cannot be made to work" —John Gall, Systematics
[https://twitter.com/mortenheroku]() spoke about the developer experience for IoT.
Outlined emerging architectures for IoT apps including:
For developers, need "git push" to devices (like Heroku did for the web).