Vancouver-based IoT Design Shop is a leader in the development of Internet of Things (IoT)-related technology. They’re dedicated to bringing a number of solutions to market in 2014, including Bluetooth Low Energy devices, proximity systems, and wearables. Their products are designed, manufactured, and assembled in their office, right here in the Lower Mainland. They’re bringing their ConnectionMaker indoor location system to Vancouver Mini Maker Faire for attendees to try out; fairgoers will be able to download the ConnectionMaker app from the app store and then use it to locate and identify other people who are using the app. Fun!
What are you making/exhibiting at VMMF this year?
This year we are exhibiting ConnectionMaker, a state-of-the-art indoor positioning system that brings the power and convenience of GPS to micro indoor locations. It’s basically an indoor location-based social network that makes it easy for people to meet with one another at events or conferences. Using the ConnectionMaker app on your smartphones, you will be able to see the location and contact information of other Makers at the Faire. ConnectionMaker is revolutionizing how people meet at events and the underlying technology will pave the way for indoor location-based services that will change the way people do business.
What else do you make?
We are excited to be launching the beta version of our new consumer product at VMMF this year! It is a system that bridges your digital and physical worlds by combining the location-detection abilities of our beacons with a mobile app. Basically you can configure your smartphone to take predetermined actions when you encounter beacons in the world. These actions, or really reactions, include:
launching an app
displaying a message on your phone
playing a sound
opening a URL
starting a text or email message
starting a tweet or Facebook post
starting a phone call
So how do we use it? Our favourite ways are to launch iTunes as we approach our cars and to play a sound to announce our arrivals at the office! Stop by our booth at the event to see the product in action.
We have also developed a proprietary platform called IoT Core. It is basically a toolkit that can be used to rapidly develop connected-product ecosystems. The components include mobile apps, Bluetooth Low Energy devices and a cloud back end. IoT Core is what we have used internally to build our new consumer product, ConnectionMaker and Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons with iBeacon Technology (BLE Beacons). We see IoT core being a key bridge between Makers and smartphone control of their creations.
Our BLE Beacons create small, concentrated areas of detection where a user’s proximity to a known location can be determined. This opens the door for many promotional, analytical and convenience applications that have not been possible until now. The basic idea is that business can increase revenue by sending targeted messages to their customers upon entry to a zone or store.
For Makers we currently sell a Beacon Development Kit with iBeacon Technology that includes custom firmware and a sample iOS application. This is available for purchase through our website and will also be available at our booth at VMMF. We engage directly with companies that are looking to roll out large numbers of beacons or even customized devices.
What is your favourite part about being a Maker? Your least favourite part? The most challenging part?
Without question the our favourite part about being Makers is seeing our ideas come to life. There is nothing quite as satisfying as seeing the proverbial “Hello world!” message when you flip the power switch or run an app for the first time. Our favourite-favourite part is then refining our ideas to make commercially-viable products so we can create revenue for our company. Our least favourite part is hunting down well hidden bugs, which can also be the most challenging part. But without challenges to overcome, and the headaches that come along with them, Makers would not get the same satisfaction out of their creations!
How else does the passion for making manifest in your life? Where does it come from?
Making is really a state of mind. Once you’re there, good luck keeping it from permeating the other areas of your life. An example of this is spending all day trying to optimize a solution in the office. When you go home and make tacos for dinner, I bet they won’t end up being the base solution of ground beef, salt, and tortillas. Those babies will be optimized with cilantro, spices, guacamole, salsa and of course mucho queso!
Have you been a maker your whole life? What’s your earliest memory of making ?
Yes we have! Some of our earliest memories of Making include ‘playing’ with Duplo. Looking back on this now we all agree that we were in fact developing job skills that we’ve since applied in our careers in the tech industry. Another memory that often pops up is that of taking things apart to see how they work. I have to admit that I struggle not to take my toaster apart on a daily basis… I know how it works, but maybe this one is something different than the 10+ I set my parents’ kitchen on fire with when I was 7. Those were bad years for household appliances!
Who’s your favourite Maker? Other than yourself.
Nikola Tesla is my favourite Maker of all time hands down. Not only were his ideas huge and crazy, he was a genius and actually turned his waaaay-out-there concepts into super useful technology!
Who or what inspires you to keep on making, even when your project falls to pieces?
It’s hard to explain, but we all feel the same deep-seated duty to build things. It’s almost a primal instinct to create. So really, it would be a challenge to stop making rather than to find the inspiration to continue. Save us from ourselves!
What is it about Maker Faire It that attracts you as an exhibitor? What are you looking forward to the most?
As Makers we love to connect with community to see what our peers are up to. We never cease to be blown away by what our fellow Makers dream up and the quality and complexity of their projects.
Your company is a VMMF 2014 Sponsor. What is it about the Faire that draws your organization?
Making is at the heart of what we do. It’s all about identifying a need and then finding a creative way to apply technology to address it. For us it’s paramount to support other creative people, regardless of what their medium is, and to help them show the world what they’ve done!
Don’t miss the presentation that IoT Design Shop’s Trent Shumay is giving as part of the 2014 VMMF Speaker Series! He’ll be telling us about how they used 3D printing technology to quadruple their manufacturing capacity, and how it allowed them to test markets, pivot, and deliver production-quality units to customers around the world. And make sure you stop by the VMMF silent auction to place a bid on their awesome donation – a Mini Electric Guitar Kit! For more information and to keep up with what IoT Design Shop is up to, check their website or follow them on twitter.