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What is it?
Glyph is a wifi-connected e-paper sign. It is housed in an elegant wooden frame, and can be updated from anywhere in the world using a simple Web interface.
Why would I want one?
Just like a normal old-fashioned sign, you can use the Glyph to display information to people. That’s a pretty broad set of uses – what makes Glyph different is that you can change what it displays at any time, remotely. This means that it need never show out-of-date information, and that it can be re-used endlessly.
Glyph will have a simple Web interface to allow you to choose what it shows, but it will also expose an open API to allow automatic operation – the idea is that you’ll be able to get really creative with your Glyph, and show all sorts of relevant info.
The Glyph started out as a bedroom-door sign for my daughters; they wanted something that could display a “keep out” sign when they were recording music in their rooms. After putting together a quick prototype in the shed, we realised that there are many other things that the sign could be used for:
- Desk calendar/daily agenda, linked to your on-line calendar and automatically showing you what is planned for the day ahead.
- Restaurant menu – always showing the correct soup of the day, and updated when dishes run out.
- Meeting room booking display. Hook it up to your office calendar, and never have to argue over rooms again.
- Place cards for dinner parties.
- Travel information – should I take the train or the bike to work today?
- You get the idea!
How far have you got with it?
I have a fully working hand-crafted prototype. This includes the woodwork, the electronics and enough server-side software to send an image to the Glyph. To complete the project, three key things need to be done:
- Make the electronics more compact and efficient (to allow the batteries to actually fit into the frame – right now they’re external and attached by a wire).
- Improve the woodwork. If you look closely, there is a gap on one side of the screen in the prototype; this was caused by a misreading of the display datasheet (d’oh), and needs a tiny re-design to eliminate this problem for future Glyphs. Whilst I’m at it, it would make sense to “design for manufacturing” to reduce the amount of time it takes to make one.
- Develop a friendlier Web app, to let you change your Glyph’s display with ease. The prototype app relies on uploading a correctly-sized .PNG file; I’d like to offer you something a little more refined.
These three things will turn Glyph into something really special, but getting them right will take time and money – which is where Kickstarter comes in! Getting the woodwork right is fairly cheap, but the other two areas will require some investment.
When will it be ready?
Roughly speaking, April 2016 is the target date. Here’s the schedule as it currently stands:
- W-4 Kickstarter launch
- W+0 Campaign complete
- W+0 Order T-Shirts
- W+1 Ship thank-you cards and cardboard Glyphs
- W+5 PCB design/iteration
- W+1 Manufacturing negotiations
- W+3 T-Shirt delivery and shipping
- W+7 Firmware update
- W+13 Server software development
- W+8 Electronics kit shipping
- W+17 Software-only Glyph development
- W+17 Software Glyph release
- W+13 Woodwork delivery
- W+19 Hand-finishing
- W+23 Assembly
- W+24 Shipping
Where can I get one?
Right here on Kickstarter. Just pledge £125, and a Glyph will be on its way to you as soon as they’re ready to go!
Credits: David Wall for the office image
Risks and challenges
Risk: Woodworking proves more expensive than budgeted for
• Approach multiple suppliers
• Allow contingency in the budget
Risk: Glyph communications could be attacked by hackers
Mitigation: The Glyph uses the Electric Imp platform, which is made by people who understand (and care deeply about) security. See this article for a summary: http://www.iotjournal.com/articles/view…
Risk: Being eaten by a grue
Mitigation: Carry a light-source
Risk: Developing the software could take longer than expected
Mitigation: Ah, I see you’ve encountered software before. Over-runs are always a possibility, but most of the difficult work (converting images to a suitable format for the e-paper display, and sending that data to the Glyph) has already been dealt with. This gives some confidence in our forecasts.
- (30 days)