About this project
BLINK(1), THE WORLD'S BEST INDICATOR LIGHT
blink(1) is a super status light: it packs three dimensions of information (color, brightness and pattern) into a single tiny package that fits into any USB port on nearly every device. It makes it incredibly easy to connect any data source in the cloud or on your computer to a full-color RGB LED so you can know what's happening without checking any windows, going to any websites or typing any commands.
We designed blink(1) in the spirit of our favorite old school Unix tools and we tried hard to make it simple, flexible, and robust.
Do you want to know if a friend has signed onto Skype, but don't want a window popping up every time anyone has logged on? Do you want to be notified when a long download has finished? Do you want to know the snow conditions at Tahoe without checking every hour? Do you want to make a "busy" light for your office that glows red when your calendar says you're in a meeting?
You can do all four at once: you can simultaneously control as many blink(1)s as you have USB ports. Have a 36-port USB hub? You can fill it with 36 blink(1)s, each of which is showing a different piece of information.
BLINK(1) AT HOME
Get things done without having your face buried in the computer. If you're expecting a call and don't want to make noise, blink(1) can help.
BLINK(1) ON THE GO
Monitor network speed when you're in the cafe, so you know when the guy in the corner is seeding on BitTorrent and it's time to go elsewhere.
BLINK(1) AT WORK
Ever wanted a physical "Busy" indicator for your cubicle or office? With blink(1) and a USB extension cable, you can let your coworkers know when you really can't be interrupted.
And because blink(1) is physically unobtrusive and requires no drivers to confound the OS, it makes a great multi-modal notification light for rack-mounted servers, alerting to task updates or system alerts.
CROSS PLATFORM EVERYWHERE
blink(1) is a USB HID device, so no special drivers are needed, just applications. We provide apps for Mac OS X, Windows, Linux, and embedded Linuxes like those used on BeagleBone and DD-WRT.
On Windows, blink(1) can appear as a system service. On Mac OS X, it can be an Applescript target. On Linux it's a command-line tool.
WHAT'S WITH THE NAME?
The name "blink(1)" is a play on the Unix help system ("man pages") where command's help pages are given by their name and section.
Not only are the blink(1) tools and apps open source, so is its entire design. Feel free to hack it to make it do cool new things.
WHERE WE'RE AT
blink(1) builds on our experience making thousands of BlinkMs, the popular Smart LEDs for Arduino.We wanted something that is as fun and as useful as BlinkM, but made for everyone, not just prototypers and designers.
Q. Wait, so this is just an RGB LED with a USB connector in a case? A. Yes, and it's the most flexible and easiest to use one, anywhere. To make it all work, there's also a tiny USB controller with our firmware to make it easy to program and control, but basically yes.
Q. Which computers does blink(1) work with? A. Just about anything with a USB jack. Specifically, blink(1) is a USB HID-compliant device and the apps we release for it work on Mac OS X 10.6+, Windows XP+, Ubuntu/Debian-style Linux. The command-line tools can be compiled for just about any POSIX-compliant Unix-style platform including the Raspberry Pi, DD-WRT WiFi routers, BeagleBone, and some Android phones.
Q. Can I hook it to my Twitter? A. Yep! Our BlinkATweet app lets you control blink(1) based on Twitter keyword search or Twitter user post.
Q. Can I control it from my phone? A. Yes! If your phone can load a web page it can control blink(1). The blink(1) service on your computer can appear as a password-protected web app for your phone or any other network enabled device.
Q. Is blink(1) hackable? A. Definitely. We're working to make the enclosure openable so you can get at the circuit board. And if you know Arduino or AVR programming, you can modify how blink(1) functions. blink(1) can be programmed with the Arduino IDE. We will include example hacks of how to turn the blink(1) into a USB keyboard and mouse emulator.
Yes. Say you want to assign a "steady red" to mean "computer CPU at 100%" and "blinking yellow" to mean "disk space low", then if both happen, you'll see a steady red with pulses of yellow. It's up to you to choose colors and patterns that don't collide. We give you tools to make those choices easy.
Yes. Each blink(1) is independently addressable. Have one display a facebook status, another display network load.
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