Trangram: A fun 'internet of things' demo from Japan
By Rick Martin
December 28, 2010
Back at Tokyo Make Meeting earlier this year, there was a fun demonstration showing us what kind of things might be possible if we connected various electrical devices around the home to the Internet, using a system called Trangram. Since the event, we've spoken with Hirotaka Hatayama, who has been working on this project together with his partner, Mr. Kinukawa.
"The original idea was that we thought it would be fun to be able to arrange and mash up electric parts just like web services, such as the 'Gakken EX-System' from Gakken which is famous in Japan," he told us. "We did not know how to explain but felt that it would be very attractive."
For those who may not remember the Gakken EX-System, it featured small connectible blocks with electrical components inside, that could be physically fitted side-by-side to create more complex electrical systems.
According to Mr. Hatayama, Trangram's current concept is to use a browser interface to put together electrical parts and web services. This "wiring editor" looks very much like Yahoo Pipes, allowing for a very intuitive and logical way to connect all the components by simply dragging and dropping.
Connecting various devices around the home to each other and to the web can result in some fun combinations. For a fuller explanation of how Trangram works, see the demo video of the first prototype below.
One Trangram demonstration shows that by using an iPhone as an input device, you can turn off lights from outside the home via the web. I wonder if I could connect it to a doggy door to let my dog in and out of the house while I'm outside? Now that would be really useful!
While this current version of Trangram is just a demo, Mr. Hatayama says that the next step is to "provide this system to some users for real use," and he's looking at next summer as his target.