Hardware Hacking With JavaScript

The Internet of Things (IoT) has enabled the Internet to reach beyond the browser. Made up of electronically networked devices, these “things” are able to interact with the physical world via sensors that feed data they capture back into their ecosystems.

Currently, these devices are mostly products, designed with a specific purpose in mind, a typical example being a fitness band that tracks activity. It reports the information gathered to an app, which is then able to analyze the data and offer suggestions and motivation to push the user further.

When building IoT devices, the task is typically divided between two roles: A hardware engineer creates the physical device, and a developer the ecosystem. However, this is not always necessary. In the case of JavaScript, its isomorphic nature allows for one language to be used across multiple platforms — including hardware.

This is George, the talking plant, a (rather grumpy) addition to the Internet of Things. His sensors gather data on his surroundings, including the soil’s moisture level, ambient temperature and light intensity. With his 8 × 8 LED face, he is able to visualize his displeasure and, using HTML5’s Web Speech API, to sarcastically answer your mundane questions. George is a great example of how it is possible to use web technologies, fused with hardware, to deliver new and engaging experiences.

This article covers the basics of how to get started building for your own IoT devices using JavaScript.

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