As an electrical engineer, my interests have always been focused on hardware electronic devices and learning about new things, from microcontrollers, such as MSP430s and Arduinos, to quad-copters and IoT. Writing a piece of software that influences the physical world is a magical experience.
My first IoT experience came from working on a project in 2014 called SoundWorm when I was still a student at Rice University. It‘s a sculpture that plays sound from each of a series of networked microphones placed in varied locations around campus.SoundWorm Sculpture
The goal was to create an experience that merges physical reality with the feeling of being connected with people through social media and other connected devices. The project originated from a group of architecture students, who did the heavy lifting of building the actual sculpture. Some of my engineering friends and I handled the electronics.
The technology behind the project is fairly simple: we connected microphones to microcomputers such as Raspberry Pis or BeagleBone Blacks and streamed audio to the sculpture where another set of microcomputers controlled the amplifiers. To give you some context, Raspberry Pis were still in their first generation, and BeagleBone Blacks had only been released for about a year. What fascinates me to this day is the System on a Chip technology, which allows you to put Linux on an embedded system. It blew my mind as I configured all the network streaming for the project.Electronics for SoundWorm
One of the trickiest parts of the project was providing networking for all the devices since they require good Ethernet connections to stream and receive audio signals. We contacted the Rice IT department — which was actually quite helpful — and, after a long chain of emails, were able to set up static IPs for all of our devices. They even went through the trouble of getting us a landline E...