Pinoccio: A wireless, gossiping microcontroller for the Internet of Things
By Donna Taylor
April 16, 2013
Pinoccio is a new Internet of Things-friendly microcontroller designed to get home-brew electronics projects talking to the internet and, usefully, each other. Pinoccios come with or without Wi-Fi capability, but can wirelessly natter away with each other by low-power radio using mesh networking. And an in-built battery untethers your projects (hence the name, d'uh). Think of these as Arduino's roaming gossipy cousins, then.
Mesh networking means that each device on the network must relay any information it hears from others on the network, as well as burbling away with its own information. One advantage of this approach is that, to communicate with the internet, only a single Pinnocio on the mesh network need be equipped with a Wi-Fi shield, saving both money up front, and battery life in use. All other Pinnocios can communicate with the web through the Wi-Fi-capable board.
Pinoccios are compatible with the popular Arduino open source hardware platform, and make use of its development tools for uploading software to the devices. As with other Arduino-compatible boards, the Pinoccio can be used with external sensors, though it includes a temperature sensor as standard.
They're small too. Though we haven't seen dimensions, but judging by the comparison pictures a Pinoccio is half the size of an Arduino Uno.
Each Pinoccio comes equipped with a lithium polymer battery, which is said to provide days, weeks, or possibly months of life depending on how the board is used.
To add to the Pinoccio's Internet of Things-iness, its developers are offering the use of a web server, plus an API which allocates each web-connected board its own web address, and allows the devices to send and receive messages from web applications. (Naturally, pro users can set up their own web servers if they like.)
Following a successful Indiegogo funding campaign, the first Pinoccios are expected to ship this July. The base board was priced US$49 without Wi-Fi and $99 with. We'd expect prices to be similar when the Pinoccio is officially released.
The promotional video gives an idea of the sort of projects Pinoccio's makers envisage.