Over the last two years, product and design consultancy Berg London has been bringing smiles to our lips with button-cute devices like the Little Printer and its Twitter-connected cuckoo clock, #Flock. Now, Berg wants to do more than just give us adorable, cloud-connected gadgets; it wants to empower us to create them ourselves.
"From our experience making the Little Printer, we realized that hardware projects can be prone to failure in a way that software isn't," says Berg's director of consulting, Mark Cridge. The internet of Things might very well be the future—Cridge is quick to note that over 30% of design and technology Kickstarter projects to receive funding over half a million dollars are connected devices—but making hardware that talks to the cloud is still far from easy. Today, Berg London announced its solution to the problem: Berg Cloud, an initiative to make the tech and software incubated with the Little Printer available to everyone.
Berg Cloud is a three-part kit for developers, prototypers, and muckers-about alike that makes connecting your custom hardware to the cloud a cinch. The first part is the Berg Cloud Devshield, which plugs into Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and mbed single-board microcontrollers, assigning a unique device key to the type of device you've made and what it does. The Devshield then communicates with the Berg Cloud Bridge, a device that plugs into your router via Ethernet and sets up a secure, low-bandwidth network between your Berg-powered hardware and the Berg Cloud itself.
As for the Berg Cloud, it's the decentralized brain that brings your hardware to life. Through it, you can snatch all sorts of APIs that can be used in coordination with your hardware to give it access to Twitter, email, weather, or more. In addition, it allows you to manage multiple devices remotely, while also providing analytic, inspection, and debugging tools.
If you're wondering what you can do with a Berg Cloud Devkit, look no further than #Flock, Berg London's tweeting cuckoo clock. A proof of concept for what would become the Berg Cloud Devkit, the clock brought a different animatronic bird to life every time you got a Twitter reply, a new follower, or a retweet.
But Berg Cloud can do far more than just tweet. Cridge tells us that it's been designed to allow you to bring any device to life that you might want to connect to the cloud or be managed from afar. You could use Berg Cloud to create an alarm clock that rings only when Game of Thrones is on, a recipe box that automatically fills itself with the latest recipes on Serious Eats, a radio that tailors Spotify tracks according to the type of weather outside, or more.
The Berg Cloud Devkit will be available starting October 31 from Bergcloud.com. Each Berg Cloud Devkit costs $129 and comes with one Berg Cloud Bridge and two Devshields. Additional Devshields will be available for $32. Sounds like a hardware prototyper's dream.