Saturday, July 31, 2010

The InterWeb of Things

Yesterday evening I attended an event hosted by MinibarLondon. This was my first minibar meetup, but they are held every fourth Friday, and last night's was held at the Corbet Place Bar, which is part of the old Trumans brewery, on Commercial Street. The venue is a short walk from Liverpool Street Station, and not too far from Old Street Tube, which is a common destination for my evenings out in Shoreditch's rapidly evolving Silicon Roundabout district.

Minibar is a meeting place, forum and a platform to launch ideas for the new tech crowd. The evening was attended by about 270 people, and there was even a waiting list of some 40 others wishing to attend. The format consists of half a dozen speakers, who have 5 minutes to put forward a pitch, and a slide presentation of something they are involved with. There is then an open mike session for anyone else wanting to pitch something for 20 seconds. It's a great ideas platform and also a good way to keep up with what's going on in the tech community.

Last night's event organiser was Christian, who I have met previously at an Open Source Hardware conference. The topic of the night was the "Interweb of Things", exploring how devices and sensors can be easily put onto the web, so that they can interact with physical objects.

First up, was Adrian McEwen, with his Arduino based bubble blowing machine Bubblino. It was programmed to respond to the twitter feed, and anytime "minibarlondon" appeared it sent forth a stream of bubbles. Adrian's device was created from a hacked child's toy, and is very popular wherever it appears.

Next up was Georgina Voss from Tinker London. Tinker are local to Shoreditch and are heavily involved with all things Arduino, and most recently the new ethernet Bridge product for the CurrentCost energy monitor.

Other presentations from Paul Downey of Osmosoft (a fast moving Open Software company buried in the monster we know as BT) gave a presentation on OSHUG open source hardware user group, who have regular meet-us in London.

River Simple told us about the development of an open source hydrogen powered car - which in my book is pushing the open source model to the extremes of the envelope.

Another presentation from Make Magazine - who are also into the Arduino scene.

Next time I will try to remember the speakers, but I had had a few beers and the fast pace of presenters, and my unique ability to instantly forget names put me at something of a disadvantage.

By 9:30 the inside bar was very hot, so most people elected to sit outside at the extensive patio bar area. Patio Bar is a bit of an exaggeration - its more like some decking and pub tables out the back of the rather scruffy old brewery yard.

Thanks to Kjen who came along at the last moment and took the place of my "plus one", Katee Hui who pitched a really interesting 20 seconds on disrupting the energy market, Chris, Nick - who has an interest in some of my energy logging stuff and the guys from Osmosoft / OSHUG whom I have bumped into at other similar events.

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