In June I left Appcelerator, which allowed July to be the first month in a long time during which I enjoyed vacation without keeping an eye on Slack, Twitter, Stack Overflow and my mailbox.
My next thing is about things
Before I drove my family down to the Atlantic coast of France, I had some drinks with my friend Wienke…
? "We've got a thing going on…."
— Fokke ❋ Zandbergen (@FokkeZB) July 14, 2016
Just about one year earlier Wienke crowd-sourced an Internet-of-Things network for all of Amsterdam in just 6 weeks. To help communities world-wide to do the same he founded The Things Network with Johan Stokking. To lower the effort and costs for setting up such a network, they ran a successful Kickstarter that raised almost twice its goal. The new, cheaper hardware is now almost product-ready, while the open-source, decentralised software already powers hundreds of DIY and existing hardware world-wide.
What is IoT?
A great question, with many possible answers depending on your point of view and level of abstraction. In my – short – version IoT about using the internet to connect all things like we’ve used it to connect ourselves.
“using the internet to connect all things like we’ve used it to connect ourselves”
In many scenarios this means we can step out of boring, repetitive processes and let things report and interact directly. No longer just use the cloud to store our information, but let things do so themselves and take action based on this data using pre-defined algorithms.
Where TTN comes in to play
Actually connecting things directly to the internet is no small thing. Thanks to IPv6 we now have plenty address space, but the protocol and infrastructure (Ethernet, WiFi) were not designed for small devices that can’t depend on wired power or connectivity. Therefor, other technologies like LoRa were created that feature both low power and long range.
“feature both low power and long range”
The Things Network sets out to fill the gaps between things and using these new technologies to actually connect them to applications on the internet. It does so via low cost gateways that things can connect to using various technologies (currently LoRaWAN and Bluetooth), an OSS, distributed backend to (similar to DNS) forward messages to and from the applications, as well as an ecosystem to help people prototype and productise their ideas.
What I’ll do
I’m joining The Things Network with only little hardware experience. We did an IoT hackathon at this year’s Appcelerator Engineering Week and in May I joined the TNW Hack Battle. I won both, but I don’t think it was because the hardware was that impressive ? TNW awarded ComeEmpty.Me because it presented a “complete user story and .. viable, fully-working app”.
This is exactly what I want to help enable as many developers to do using The Things Network: easily prototype their IoT ideas so that they can validate and start building actual products fast.
“easily prototype their IoT ideas so that they can validate and start building actual products fast”
My initial focus will be to improve the onboarding and overall developer experience of the kickstarter products, through improvements, documentation and content to support and inspire.
Questions, ideas, suggestions? Drop me a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org!