Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
A tiny Wi-Fi development board. Arduino + Wi-Fi + ARM Cortex M3  + wireless programming + REST API = awesome.
A tiny Wi-Fi development board. Arduino + Wi-Fi + ARM Cortex M3  + wireless programming + REST API = awesome.
A tiny Wi-Fi development board. Arduino + Wi-Fi + ARM Cortex M3 + wireless programming + REST API = awesome.
Created by
5,549 backers pledged $567,968 to help bring this project to life.

Cellular for Everything: Meet the Spark Electron

16 likes

Dearest Spark Friends,

Today is a very exciting day! We’re proud to announce the newest addition to the Spark family — the Electron, our cellular development kit that we hope will open up the Internet of Things to a whole new category of connected products. Best of all, we’re going back to our roots and launching the Electron on Kickstarter, the same crowdfunding platform where we first met so many of you way back in May of 2013. Visit our Kickstarter campaign to pre-order an Electron and be one of the first to own this amazing addition to the Spark lineup.

The Electron works a lot like our other development kits, the Spark Core and Photon, except it connects to the Internet using a 2G or 3G cellular connection instead of Wi-Fi. This means it works anywhere your phone does, and can go wherever you need it to — your backyard, your bicycle, or your banana grove.

Back to Kickstarter

Throughout the past two years, we’ve grown our team from 4 to 24, raised venture capital, and shipped tens of thousands of Spark Cores to engineers, designers, and product creators all over the world. We’re grown up a bunch since our tender years, which begs the question —why Kickstarter?

The reason we’re so excited about the Electron is that we think the world of builders and creators really needs it. The cellular version of the Internet of Things (often called "Machine to Machine" or "M2M") has quite a few barriers, and it's not set up for the little guys (or even the medium-sized guys). For most companies outside of Tier 1 handset and automative manufacturers, building a cellular-connected product is nearly impossible due to opaque pricing, drawn out negotiations, high volume expectations, and complicated certifications.

We’re back on Kickstarter to change all that. Our hope is that by rallying support around a development experience that is affordable, easy to use, and open, we can disrupt the cellular industry and open up the floodgates to a new generation of incredible connected products. The best way to disrupt an industry is to raise a rumpus, and we think that Kickstarter is the perfect venue to do just that.

The campaign is now live, and we’d love if you helped us spread the word by sharing with your friends and family!

Forward looking, backwards compatible

We’re also happy to announce that the Electron provides a whole new way to connect to the world while maintaining compatibility with the accessories, software, and development tools you’re already familiar with.

With the introduction of Spark OS, the Photon, and now the Electron, Spark has become much more than the development kit we launched in 2013. We’ve got our sights set on changing the way people and things everywhere connect with one another, which is only possible with the help, enthusiasm, and support of you all.

Bottom line: we love you guys, and we’re proud and excited to take this leap into unexplored territory together.

If you have feedback, please send it to our way — we’d love to hear from you :-)

High fives all around.

Cheers and Spark love,

Zach and the Spark Team

Introducing the Photon.

21 Comments
14 likes

For backers only. If you're a backer of this project, please log in to read this post.

Maker Faire, Pebble, CleverPet, Spark.subscribe(), and a new project site. Phew!

9 likes

Hi Everyone! Lots to share, as usual! Events, Spark-powered products, and new features. Let's dig in!

Visit us at Maker Faire!

It's a big weekend for the maker community - that's right, it's Maker Faire Bay Area time! Maker Faire is this weekend (May 17 and 18) in San Mateo; our team will be out in force and we're hoping to meet some of you in person. We'll be at Booth #813 - if you check out this map, we're basically located next to the "Java" logo in the Expo Hall. Please come say hello!

Spark and Pebble - BFFs

Speaking of Maker Faire....

We're excited to announced that we will be at Maker Faire with Pebble, the creators of one of the most exciting wearable products on the market (and fellow Kickstarter vets).  We're huge fans of the Pebble team and products, and we're really excited to showcase what the Internet of Things can look like when people and companies collaborate. We'll have a bunch of cool Spark demos that can be controlled directly from your Pebble and we'll be sharing more information and code so you too can connect your Spark projects with your smartwatch. 

If you want some more info, check out our new blog post on the weekend: http://blog.spark.io//2014/05/14/spark-and-pebble-bffs/

CleverPet - a Spark powered game for your dog!

CleverPet is the latest Spark powered product to hit the market and they are currently rocking it on Kickstarter! CleverPet is an extremely intelligent "learning game console" that automatically entertains and educates your dog, even when they're home alone. The whole thing has been designed by a team of neuroscientists who have applied their learnings to create one really cool and smart product. 

We love CleverPet -- their device handles nearly any kind of dry pet food, is hackable, science-based, and, well, it's built around the Spark Core. We've been chatting with their team for a while and they really know what they're doing, especially when it comes to dog training. If you have a dog (or even a cat!) and you like hacking with your Core, then be sure to check out the CleverPet campaign.

Pub/sub between Cores with Spark.subscribe()

The Spark team is super proud to release in v0.2.2 a much anticipated feature: Spark.subscribe(). What does this mean? It's now easy to send messages from one Core to another.

You may have been using Spark.publish() to send messages from your Spark Core since we released that feature a couple of months ago. Now you can subscribe to those same messages from another Core! This is a great way to do pub/sub messaging where Cores can communicate directly with one another, regardless of where they are in the world.

For full details and documentation, check out our blog post here

New Project Sharing Site: spark.hackster.io

We wanted a place that made it easy for people to not only share their projects built using Spark but also find other cool projects that they may want to try, support or just give a thumbs-up to. Luckily we met the team at Hackster, a new project sharing site, and we've worked with them to create http://spark.hackster.io/, the official new home for sharing and finding Spark projects. One of the things we're most excited about is how easy it is to include Github repos, links and instructions.

We would love to see all of the projects that you have been making with your Cores so start posting!

So many new things, and more to come. Thanks for your continued support, we hope you're enjoying your Cores, and we hope to see some of you at Maker Faire Bay Area this weekend!

We <3 you,

- Zach and the Spark team

Next Generation Spark Product

20 likes

Dearest backers,

We are pleased to share with you an epic new chapter in the Spark journey...

Inspiration and background

Earlier this week, my ritual skimming of news was going strong when I came upon a shocking summary of a headline of an article which claimed that people today are being overwhelmed with information. Although I didn't have time to read it, the message resonated with me deeply: our beleaguered attention spans are increasingly under assault by a siege of ubiquitous media. I stopped texting, paused the video I was watching, and walked straight out of the meeting I was in. I took a long slow sip from my coffee. And I began to wonder if the torrid pace of today's consumer is the very reason we've begun to celebrate certain hallmarks of an era where time was spent more thoughtfully. What else could explain our newfound demand for artisanal carved ice cubes and mindfully mason-jarred, home crafted pickles?

I realized that we all have the same hunger for purposeful connection. We needed a new device to help cut through the entropy separating us from one another, something free from distractions, something deliberate and slow to help shape our most valuable thoughts. Something that would capture the technological romanticism of the 1890s while meeting the accessibility standards of today.

It is with these goals in mind that I am proud to to share Spark's exciting new development.

Introducing the Open Internet Telegraph

Development update

Although this incredible project is still in early beta, we wanted to share some details. We haven't checked, but this could very well be the world's first open Wi-Fi telegraph with end-to-end encryption and internet connectivity. We believe in creating a connected ecosystem of devices, but also of people, so unlike the original Telegraph, we will not be charging by the word. In fact, if you own a Spark Core, we won't be charging any monthly fees. Take that text messages!

And, recognizing that not all of our users have mastered the demands of morse code, we've also included an autocorrect feature that will help smooth over common mistakes.

The Spark Telegraph
The Spark Telegraph

Kickstarter?

You tell us! If there is sufficient demand, we might consider introducing a new Kickstarter project for the Spark Telegraph with a limited run of beautiful wooden and brass Wi-Fi Telegraphs.

All the best,

Zachary and the Spark Team

hello@spark.io

So much new! New features, a getting started video, and more.

14 likes

Dearest backers,

Hello! We miss you guys. Have you been hanging out in the community and following our blog? If you have, all of the below will be old news by now, but just in case, let's catch up.

We've been hard at work developing new features, fixing bugs, and making it easier to get started with the Spark Core. If you haven't started tinkering yet, now's the time! Let's dig in.

Getting Started Video Tutorial

Will has created a really amazing tutorial for getting started with the Spark Core. He has also demonstrated his excellent taste in dramatic music.

This video walks you not only getting your Core connected, but also taking the first steps towards creating cool projects and custom apps with your device. Covered in the video:

1. Unboxing the Core 

2. Configuring the Core using the Spark Core App 

3. Blinking LEDs over the Internet with Tinker 

4. Flashing custom apps with Spark Build

New Features

We've been pretty busy since our last update and have completed two sprints, both of which introduced a bunch of new features including the below:

Spark.publish()

Up until now, the only way to communicate with the Spark Core was to ask it something. You could remotely call a function using Spark.function(), such as calling the brew() function on a connected coffee-maker to brew a cup of coffee on the fly. Or you could store the temperature in a local variable temp, and then check the temperature with Spark.variable(), and ask for the temperature at any time.

But what if you want the Spark Core to talk to you? Enter Spark.publish(). This feature lets you publish events from the Spark Core, which can be subscribed to through the API. Events are published to a topic, and can be public or private.

To learn more, read our blog post on Spark.publish().

Command Line Interface (CLI)

Professional software developers know that sometimes the fastest way to get stuff done is using the command line. Sometimes you just want to shrug off decades of graphical advances and get a flashing green cursor like it's 1987.

We've now released a command-line interface that will let you do quite a lot from the command line, such as:

  • Flashing code to the Core
  • Polling variables and calling functions remotely
  • Setting up the Wi-Fi network on the Core
  • Opening a Serial port to the Core

If you've got Node.js installed, all you need is to type `npm install -g spark-cli` into your terminal window. Once the CLI is installed, type `spark` to get started.

Improved stability

Due to dozens of improvements to the Core firmware, the connection to the Cloud is now significantly more stable. Some of you might have been frustrated by the bug we nicknamed the "Cyan Flash of Death"; although the underlying issues (internal to the CC3000) are present, the Core is now much more stable, and will recover from any failures within the Wi-Fi module. We're still working with TI to resolve the underlying issues but in the meantime, your Core should work the way you expect it to. Thanks @david_s5 for your amazing contributions to our firmware and congrats on winning our bug bounty!

Open Source Android App

The Spark Android app is now open source, ready to act as a template for your own mobile apps for your Spark-powered products.

Don’t worry, iOS fans - the open source iOS app will be coming soon, too!

Multiple Files in the Spark IDE

You can now open multiple tabs in Spark Build, our web IDE! This means that, as members of the community begin to create libraries for various components and accessories like sensors, LCD displays, etc., you can add them as separate files to keep your code clean. This can also help you keep yourself organized as your applications become more complex.

This is the first step on a longer journey to make it easy to import and share libraries with the rest of the community. Most of our team is web guys, and we love tools like Node.js’s npm and Ruby’s gem that make it extremely easy to share libraries. This makes it possible for developers and engineers to stand on each others’ shoulders. We hope to deliver the same simple solution through Spark’s in-process library system.

Open Source Goodness

As you know, we're big open source fans, but as the volume of our open source content has grown, it’s become a little unwieldy. Now if you’d like to browse our open source repositories, visit spark.github.io to see an organized view of the open source tech stack for connected devices that we’ve been publishing over the last few months.

Still to come: webhooks, Spark.subscribe(), and the local cloud

We've still got a ton of new features in mind, but next on the horizon for us are a few important features that will really complete our vision for the Cloud. In particular:

  • Registering webhooks, so when certain events happen, you can ping a server
  • Spark.subscribe(), which will let one Core communicate with another through the Cloud through a pub/sub model
  • The local cloud, which will let you run your own Spark Cloud

Welcome the Spark Elite!

Our community has become incredibly strong over the last couple of months, and there are a number of incredible individuals who have been instrumental in making that happen. To thank them, we've created a group called the Spark Elite. These are community members who have made incredible contributions to Spark, and have taken positions on a community board of advisors for Spark. They're now moderators in the community, and are helping make sure that we as a company are headed in the right direction and doing things that will make our community of incredible developers, engineers, and creators happy.

Welcome and thank you to @BDub, @timb, @bko, @david_s5, @Hypnopompia, @mattande, @peekay123, and @wgbartley! You guys are the best.

Spark on Maker Shed!

Maker Media is kind of a big deal in our little corner of the world, and they’ve been supporters of ours for a while. Behind the scenes we’ve been working with them for quite some time to get the Spark Core on their shelves.

We are so pleased to be able to say that both the Spark Core and Spark Maker Kit are on Maker Shed! It's hugely exciting news for us and would not have been possible without your support.

The bad news(ish) is that they very quickly sold out of Cores! They've still got some Maker Kits in stock, and we'll be hopefully getting them new Cores soon.

Community and feedback

Our community site has been rocking recently, and that's all because of you! All of the project sharing, library building and bug fixing has just been incredible and we feel so lucky to have you all as part of our community. 

In addition to the community site you can find us via facebook, twitter and hello@spark.io. We love hearing feedback, feature requests and more — so keep it coming!

Thanks for being awesome,

Zach and the Spark Team