The Best IoT Education is at Dreamforce, Part 3: The Equipment

Have 20 minutes free at Dreamforce and don't know what to do? Come to the Developer Zone Internet of Things area, by yourself or with a friend, shoot a connected basketball at the 2 Point Hoops Challenge Powered by 2lemetry, try an Arduino Starter Kit or checkout a piece of robotics equipment or wearable product you've been wanting to try. Refresh your brain with a brand new hands-on experience.

I’ve already written about our 48 IoT workshops and 27 IoT partners, but today I’m going to tell you about some of the stuff I’m most passionate about: the Internet of Things equipment and connected products you can try for yourself while at Dreamforce. Whether you’re age 4 or 44, play is an incredible learning tool, and I’ve personally put this list together based on the items I’ve enjoyed and learned the most from. I think there’s something on it for everyone.  Note that this is not a list of everything you’ll see in the IoT area, and if you have questions or comments please get in touch with @Metadaddy or @ReidCarlberg.

Before I get too far along, I would be remiss if I didn’t let you know right up front that we’ll be following the tweet stream for “#DevZone #IoT”. If you’re at Dreamforce, and you tweet a picture of yourself doing something in the zone — at a workshop, working on a wearable, building a robot — along with the compound tag #DevZone #IoT, you just might win something cool. More on that later.

First and foremost, when you approach the Internet of Things area, you will see the 2 Point Hoops Challenge Powered by 2lemetry. That’s right, we built a freaking basketball court just so you could experience what professional athletes experience as they train with a 94fifty connected basketball. Our partner 2lemetry has created an awesome experience just for you and yes, you can challenge the @IoTCoyote himself to a contest of raw skill.

Next, we’ll have Arduino experimentation kits that you can checkout and get your first Hello, World under your belt. One of the things I like most about the Arduino is that you can get away with knowing literally nothing at the beginning, and come away with a much better feel for how easy all this hardware stuff is. These kits are great — they have instructions, projects and parts — everything you need to get started. If you know you want to use one of these ahead of time, you should install the Arduino IDE on whatever computer you’re bringing.

Now if you’ve never done anything in hardware and you want to stay away from writing code, you should checkout a little bits kit. We have two of them you can try. One of them is the littleBits Deluxe Kit. It includes a booklet of 15 projects and has tons of modules you connect together with just a few magnets. We also have the littleBits Space Kit which was designed in conjunction with NASA. It includes 12 modules and 5 NASA lesson plans to help you unlock your inner rocket scientist without having to actually tackle rocket science. You’re welcome!

If neither of these is your style, maybe you’ve been tempted to get a robot, but don’t know if you’ll have any fun. No problem: you can checkout an Ollie from us. The Ollie is the new offering from Orbotix. You remember Orbotix, they brought us the completely round robot, the Sphero. The Ollie is their next generation toy that’s even faster. It’s completely ready to go and we’ll even lend you something to control it with. Yes, you can run it into @Adamse if you see him.

Now if you want to build your robots instead of just playing with them, you can checkout the MOSS Ultimate Kit – Exofabulatronixx 5200 from Modular Robotics. Now, if you’re looking at that picture and drooling — I don’t blame you. It’s amazing. It includes an instruction booklet of easy to build options and you’ll be up and running in literally just a few minutes. You can install an app on your phone or a larger app on your laptop and take it from there.

If fitness wearables are your thing, but you’ve been holding out because you’re not sure which one you want, we have a smartband sampler pack. It includes a Fitbit Flex and a Misfit Shine that are completely configured and ready for you to give them a test run. The apps are all pre installed. Check them out and take them for a sping around Moscone West. And yes, by the way, these wearables are also all connected in to a special feature powered by our good friends at @etherios. You’re going to love it!

You can also checkout a Raspberry Pi B+ Starter kit that comes complete with a Raspberry Pi sized TFT screen and Wi-Fi adapter. It’s easy to get online with this great educational system in just a few minutes.

Now, if you’re a little more advanced in your use of the Arduino, the mbed, or the Intel Gallileo family of DIY prototyping boards, you might be interested in trying out the Grove Starter Kits we ordered just for Dreamforce. The starter kits make it extremely easy to add functional modules without having to worry about soldering. Everything connects using I2C protocols and a standard 3-wire connector, and there is tons of sample code.

I’ve also had a few people ask me if they could get their hands on some LEGO Mindstorms EV3 equipment, and the answer here is a definitive YES. Check one out, follow some instructions on line, and you can build a huge variety of things. Note, if you want to give this a shot, you should definitely install the Mindstorms software on your computer prior to coming. It’s a big app that can take a while to download. If you want advice on how to control these from the Salesforce1 Platform, just ask @AndyInTheCloud.

Now if BlueTooth is your thing, we’ll have the brand new Broadcom WICED Sense Smart Sensor Tag, the TI CC2541 Sensor Tag, and a Estimote Developer Kits you can borrow. These are great because you can install a simple app on your phone and instantly start to get live readings from the multiple sensors built in to each device.

And finally, if you came to Dreamforce 2013, you remember we had an absolute ton of cool components. Lasers, motors, XBees, LEDs, FLORA, GPS, color sensors, conductive thread, etc etc. We’ll have those again, and you’re welcome to borrow any and all of it.

Phew! I’m sure I’ve missed something, but you get the idea. Borrowing equipment is dead easy. Just stop by the #DevZone #IoT area reception desk and they’ll talk you through it.

Now you might be thinking to yourself, hey, didn’t he say something about prizes? Why yes, yes I did. When you come to the #DevZone #IoT area and you do something with #DevZone #IoT stuff, be sure to take a picture of it and tag that picture with #DevZone #IoT. You just might win something cool. Like an Ollie. Or a LEGO Mindstorms EV3 set. Or an Ultimate Raspberry Pi Starter Kit.

I hope you can visit the #DevZone #IoT area. In fact, I hope you can attend a workshop, talk with every partner, hand out around our show and tell area and borrow some equipment you’ve been wanting to try. It’s going to be a great event, and I look forward to seeing you there!

Published
October 6, 2014
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The Best IoT Education is at Dreamforce, Part 3: The Equipment