Here’s a nice example of the DIY spirit at work. A former Portland, OR, restaurant owner was looking for a way to better monitor food storage temperatures (which had to be regularly checked and written in a notebook). There didn’t seem to be a good automated system available, so he built his own, using open-source hardware to develop a unit that can monitor temperature, humidity and barometric pressure of a given location, then transmit the data via the Internet and a Wi-Fi network.
The restaurant owner, Ronald Bynce, started a company called Hexagonal Research to sell the boxes, now dubbed Observos. Users can monitor data using a Web-based console. Alerts can be set up so you get an e-mail if the numbers go above or below a certain level.
Bynce and his partners used an Arduino board for the prototype, but have since moved over to the Pinoccio programmable board. The company is currently upgrading the sensors in the box to work better in agricultural applications where humidity is as important as temperature. You can read more over at engagdget.
For an introduction to embedded system development and how it can help create an Internet of Things, read Desktop Engineering’s “Fast Track Embedded Systems Development” feature in the June issue.