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Internet of everything
Internet of everything

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5.2.2 How to prototype and further resources

How do you prototype? There are a few ways to get started. A team at Google used the 'Rapid Prototyping Method; to create the Google Glass. If you like you can watch a TedTalk [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] about this process.

Of course, Google has a large amount of resources to pay for the people and materials that go into prototyping. Most of us need some financial help to get our ideas out of our heads and into a prototype. For us, there is crowd funding. Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Crowdfunder are just three of the many online crowd funding programs. The Pebble Watch Kickstarter video was used to generate donations to help this group of inventors create the Pebble Watch.

What IoE invention will you create?

Physical materials

A good place to start is, of course, the internet. People have exchanged ideas for ages, but the Internet allows for idea exchanges on a whole new level. People who have never physically met can now collaborate and work together. There are several web sites you can visit to connect with other makers.

Maker Media is a global platform for connecting makers with each other to exchange projects and ideas. The platform also provides a place where makers can find and buy products for their projects. For more information, go to the Makezine website.

It is helpful to have practical skills when working with certain materials; for example, wood and metal are common prototyping materials, but they may be too difficult for a beginner to use. Making Society has a good section on modeling plastic and clay. You might be surprised with what you can do with plastic, clay, paper, and wires. For more information or ideas, go to the Making society website.

LEGO Mindstorms has a large community of contributors and fans. With LEGO Mindstorms, you can create LEGO robots and control them using an application. The kits come with everything you need to make it work.

Meccano is a model construction system that consists of reusable metal strips, plates, angle girders, wheels, axles, and gears, with nuts and bolts to connect the pieces. It lets you build working prototypes and mechanical devices.

3D printing is the process of making a solid object based on a 3D model computer file. A machine, called a 3D printer, is connected to the computer. A number of companies now build and sell 3D printers. An example is Makerbot.

Electronics toolkits

Computer programs cannot run without a computer. While you can create programs for almost any computer, some platforms are designed for the beginner. Following you will find some of the most popular platforms.

Arduino is an open-source physical computing platform based on a simple microcontroller board, and a development environment for writing software for the board. You can develop interactive objects that take input from a variety of switches or sensors to control lights, motors, and other physical objects.

While Arduino is not suitable for use as a computer, the low power requirement makes it capable of controlling other devices efficiently.

The Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit-card-sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV. You operate it using a standard keyboard and mouse. It is capable of doing everything a computer can do, from browsing the Internet and playing high-definition video, to making spreadsheets, word-processing, and playing games.

The Beaglebone is very similar to the Raspberry Pi in size, power requirements, and application. The Beaglebone has more processing power than the Raspberry Pi; therefore, it is a better choice for applications with higher processing requirements.

Programming resources

Programming is critical to the IoE. Creating custom code is very useful when developing an IoE solution. You have already learned about  Scratch. There are many other free resources that can help you get started with programming.

The MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a web-based publication of almost all MIT course content. Open and available to the world, OCW is great place to get familiar with computer programming for free. OCW programming related courses can be found at.

Khan Academy is a non-profit educational website created in 2006 to provide 'a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere'. There are lectures related to computer programming.

Code Academy is another excellent resource. It relies on interactivity to help people learn how to write computer programs.

There are also aa number of coures on OpenLearn including Learn code for data analysis.

Community inventor and entrepeneurship

So, perhaps you have just created something really neat. What now? There are a number of places where you can get help exposing your idea or prototype to others.

Investigate what is available in your community. Check with your local government, schools, and chamber of commerce for information about workshops, classes, and expert advice.

The internet has many resources to help your idea get exposure. A good example is Quirky. Quirky allows users to share their ideas. When an idea is submitted, other Quirky users can vote and choose whether or not they want to support your idea. If an idea is good, it may become a real product.

If you do not want to share your idea and all you want is information, Ask the Inventors is a great resource. Their website provides detailed information on all the phases of your project.