the ‘electric imp’ offers users one of the easiest implementation of the ‘internet of things’ to connect their ordinary electric devices to the internet

appearing like a standard SD card, ‘electric imp‘ uses wi-fi and a cloud service to let users connect and wirelessly control electronic devices. the card offers a realistic implementation of the ‘internet of things’, interfacing with drag-and-drop web-based software to let users monitor and control connected devices.

power sockets or adaptors configured with an ‘imp’ slot could offer seamless control of lights and other plugged-in appliances via web or smartphone app. users can manually turn devices on or off, or interact in more complex ways. in addition, the controls could instead be linked to internet apps or sensor nodes built into the ‘imp’. a demo video offers the example of christmas tree lights which turn off once the water in the tree’s dish is too low, reminding owners to refill it. lights could change colour depending on the weather report; the coffee machine could be set to start automatically each morning and initiate a user’s alarm clock to sound only once it is finished. sprinklers could be set to run only when the soil is dry, or monitored via web app from afar while homeowners are on vacation; or the system could send a text message to users when certain devices are turned on or have finished operation.

‘electric imp’ founder hugo fiennes also suggests that a washing machine’s or pool pump’s operation could be made conditional on multiple variables, such as the cost of electricity at a given time, to save costs or optimize machine operation.

the concept behind ‘electric imp’ is that it is simple enough for average users to work with, opensource and flexible enough for tinkerers to extend. in addition, software developers can create their own applications for particular functionality, which users could then purchase to use or modify; and integrated hardware (such as the example wall socket mentioned above) could also be developed.

demo video: using the ‘electric imp’ sensors to detect when a christmas tree is lacking water, turning the lights out to remind users to refill the dish

the ‘electric imp’ cards will be on sale for developers in late june 2012, at the cost of 25 USD each for a sensor and LED -equippedboard; 20 USD for an arduino-compatible model; and 7 USD for a basic chip with power supply.

the system is also on exhibition at the maker faire bay area in california from may 19th – 20th.

electric imp for the internet of things internal chip view of ‘hannah’, the sensor and LED-loaded, 25 USD developer model

the developers elaborate: ‘for device manufacturers, adding an imp slot is easy and cost-effective – in many cases the cost of additional parts is less than a dollar. once a device is imp-enabled, inserting an imp connects the device to the cloud of other imp-enabled devices and services, without the need to build or manage a web service. because of the simplicity of integrating the imp, even low-volume or custom devices can become connected, allowing almost any niche to become part of the larger world.’

‘for consumers, imp-enabled products carry the confidence that the product will work seamlessly with every other imp-enabled device on the market, regardless of type or manufacturer, and that its capability will only expand as more devices and services come to market.‘

electric imp for the internet of things wall sockets are one example hardware integration of ‘electric imp’

electric imp for the internet of things example web interface for the monitoring of ‘imp’-connected devices  

electric imp for the internet of things example application screenshots

electric imp for the internet of things top: setting interaction behaviour among sensors, devices, and user input bottom: developers can also hack the code itself to add functionality