API for the World

This past Saturday and Sunday a team of ITP students (including myself) created and presented API for the World at the TechCrunch Disrupt Hack Day. Here's the rundown:


API for the World is a sensor and web application that turns anything with a power cord into a networked object. At the flip of a switch you can send a message to twitter, facebook, foursquare, or any other service you define. We did this to fill the gap between old technology and the "smart" devices we see today.

Imagine if your grandmother could use her bedside lamp to communicate with loved ones. When she goes to bed, she flip off her bedside lamp and we get a message to twitter, and can be rest-assured that she's alright.

We've included the ability to define new devices, behaviors, and message through an online dashboard. You can also add new servi
ces with which the application can communicate.

The application uses a current sensor (to tell if the device is drawing power) to send a wireless message to the application, which then pushes a message according to the scenario you've defined. For you geeks out there, the sensor measure induction and sends a POST request to a Rails app via an XBee module. The web app then uses the Twitter API to post a message.

We can imagine this app going in a bunch of different directions. You could use it to check into Foursquare or update facebook that you had toast for breakfast. In the scenario with grandma's lamp, perhaps the lamp could order itself lightbulbs according to when the lightbulb is projected to fail.

We're working on sensor documentation of the project and an instructable, as well as open sourcing the code. Thanks to TechCrunch and the ITP team for an awesome hack day.

The Team: