What to do with a box of Google gadgets?

Do you have what it takes to turn a box of tech gadgets from Google into a unique digital experience on campus? 

After impressing Google with their innovative ideas for the Google Internet of Things Research Award, the Digital Humanities Group and Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University were sent a cardboard box full of tech.

The items can be configured to communicate with mobile devices via Bluetooth to provide information about the local environment, send news alerts and even activate light and heat sensors when you walk into a room.

Team leader Rachel Hendery says researchers have their own ideas on how to use the gadgets to enrich the campus experience, but want to hear from the wider University community on how to make best use of this unique opportunity.

"Everyone wants to get their hands on the newest technology," says Dr Hendery.

"Now you have the chance to become involved in using these creative tech gadgets by sending us your suggestions."

Dr Hendery says an idea under consideration is the creation of mobile enhanced coffee shops, which researchers will promote through the use of strategically placed digital beacons.

"For example, the beacons could transmit data to nearby phones showing where the coffee is located, with discount codes as users approach," she says.

"We also plan to add links to University websites hosting interactive research projects that they can participate in while drinking their coffee, such as the Emotional Mapping (opens in a new window) website."

The Google Internet of Things Research Award provides researchers with Google related technologies, with the goal of fostering collaboration on small-scale experiments to discover what can be done with software and devices.        

Included in the Western Sydney University package are:

  • 3 x Edison boards. "Like Arduinos but with more features, Edison boards are microcomputers that you can connect up to sensors of all sorts, and program to respond to the input from those sensors in some way," says Dr Hendery. "For example, you could hook one up to a light sensor, and program it to switch on a lamp when it detects that it is getting dark. Or to a moisture detector you put in a pot plant, and program it to send you an email if the plant needs watering."
  • 1 x Chromebit "The Chromebit is a small stick you can plug into any monitor or TV that runs a whole operating system (ChromeOS). They can be used to run any software you would normally run on a computer, but in a space where you can't fit a whole computer (e.g. a kiosk)."
  • 20 x Beacons "The beacons are tiny sealed devices you can place around an indoor or outdoor space. The battery lasts several years, and they constantly beam information such as website addresses, or triggers for an app, to any passing mobile device via bluetooth."

To let the team know of your suggestions, email Rachel at r.hendery@westernsydney.edu.au


5 October 2016

Mark Smith, Senior Media Officer