The Spotted Community
By roger on Jul 28, 2008
One of the exciting parts of our work here in Sun Labs is that more and more of what we do is done in the open. It gives researchers a special thrill when they get to see people using their work and taking it beyond what they planned. The Sun SPOT community has been growing impressively recently. We have been seeing more and more work done around Sun SPOTs and it is great. Part of a healthy community is building an ecosystem. As a research group, its always difficult for us to serve both our research goals and provide a market opportunity for others.
One of our first was with Systronix who built the Trackbot. They built a complete robotic platform which can use a Sun SPOT for its brains. It's a nice experimental platform that can take advantage of some of the interesting features of the Sun SPOT like Java-based development, wireless communication for untethered development and swarm behavior. It allows you to build a variety of mobile applications that can be quite compelling. The Trackbot has been available from Systronix for some time now and has a loyal community of followers.
A more recent entry to the Sun SPOT commercial space is the recent announcement of the availability of eProtoBoards from Brilldea.com. We recently open sourced this board, but as a research group simply have not been able to build and distribute another product at this time. The net effect was that many people in the community wanted the board and our open source efforts were just teasing them. Well, the good news is that Brilldea.com stepped in to make the boards available. This is a great step forward for the community. We want Sun SPOTs to be a great platform for innovation and experimentation. The eProtoBoard is a big part of that. Now they are only selling the bare board, but for those who are designing their own circuits anyway, having to put on the few extra parts should not slow anyone down.
Of course hardware is not very exciting without software and I'm happy to say that the software innovation also appears to be going along quite well. One of the most interesting recent developments here is the announcement of a new radio stack from the folks at University of Karlesruhe in Germany. They did some experiments and found that our radio stack was not to their liking, so they wrote their own. We were hoping to encourage innovation in this area since we think it is ripe for a variety of improvements and optimizations for particular application areas. We hope to see a lot of experimental radio stacks pushing different approaches to distributed communication. Of course, one great thing about the KSN RadioStack is that it is all open source. You can go to their website today and take a look at their YouTube video below.