Smart Takes

Electric Imp: Connecting consumer electronics wirelessly

Posting in Design

Through the "Internet of Things" -- send a text to turn the microwave on, or turn on the bedside lamp to start the coffee machine.

The "Internet of Things" -- the concept of a system where the Internet is connected to the physical world through sensor technology.

There have been recent developments in this idea; scientists beginning to fully explore the idea of using voice commands, complicated hand gestures or body language as a way to remotely control a device through networks.

Electric Imp is a new product that aims to commercialize the idea of the "Internet of Things". A start-up founded by former iPhone engineer Hugo Fiennes, ex-Gmail designer Kevin Fox, and engineer Peter Hartley, the trio want to be able to turn any household product in to an Internet-connected device through the use of an SD-card sized chip.

The chips developed by the company, Imp Cards, have a Wi-Fi antenna, an embedded processor, and encryption capabilities. To link the card with an electronic device, a user needs to connect the chip to an Imp circuit board.

The potential of this technology is incredible -- from waking up in the morning and turning on your light, which also turns the coffee maker on -- controlling sprinklers to open only in certain temperatures, and household lights to turn on once the door is opened.

Users are bound by no limits. Using a custom browser, consumers can create any program they wish and connect any devices in their home securely to the Internet. This can also be achieved through a smart phone or third-party applications that are currently in development.

The company was named after ARPANET's classic 1960s "interface message processor" or "IMP," -- a protocol used to communicate with other computers. Electric Imp currently has seven employees, and has recently secured $7.9 million in funding from investors.

Electric Imp plans to release a developer preview bundle in June. Gizmodo reports that standard Imp Cards will cost $25, while the required circuit boards will probably retail for between $10 and $20.

Imp-enabled products will be made available later this year. The company is in talks with manufacturers to have Imp-compatible slots pre-installed in machines -- for those that are not specialists in cloud-based services, simply being required to add an 'imp slot' may benefit both parties involved, and make products more attractive to consumers. The technology will also be available to license.

Image credit: Electric Imp

Related:

Share this

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure