This past weekend at Maker Faire Bay Area in San Mateo California, Sony unveiled “MESH” – an exciting new development concept. MESH (derived from the concept of Make, Experience, SHare) is a platform of hardware blocks that connect to each other through wireless technology such as Bluetooth Smart. Each block contains software that can be programmed via a simple Graphical User Interface (GUI) to define a function. MESH makes it easy, fun and convenient for anyone without engineering or coding skills to build their own inventions.
The Business Design and Innovation Laboratory at our Tokyo HQ recently unveiled MESH, a Do-It-Yourself technology creativity project at this year’s Maker Faire Bay Area. According to Project Leader Takehiro Hagiwara, the MESH project “aims to establish a platform for people without any engineering skills to create anything they want, by providing blocks that vary in function and can be connected wirelessly to each other”.
MESH components – hardware blocks, software, GUI
The MESH platform consists of coloured hardware blocks, each with a particular functions – motion sensor, LED, microphone, speaker*, camera*, and button. Each block comes with wireless technology such as Bluetooth Smart so they can be wirelessly connected to each other.
*Currently not available, actual accessories were used in its place at the Maker Faire.
Building with MESH blocks is simple – the idea is that you use the GUI on devices supporting HTML5, such as a PC, smartphone or tablet. From the GUI, blocks can be moved and behaviour can be set with simple taps. For example, for an LED block, you can define the colour of the LED and how the light will flash. Then on the GUI, tap and drag again to connect one block to another. When you press the physical button on the block, the LED block will light up. It’s that easy!
Potential use cases
The ease of using MESH opens an infinite number of creative use cases. For example:
- Put a MESH motion sensor block and speaker block into a stuffed toy, then set up the blocks so that the toy laughs when a child moves or shakes it.
- Use MESH to check your fridge supplies inside the refrigerator through your smart phone. Attach a MESH motion sensor block to a refrigerator door, then attach a MESH camera block to a nearby shelf. Then set up the blocks so that every time you open the door, the camera takes a picture of inside refrigerator and sends it to your phone.
- Attach a MESH LED block to an umbrella stand, and set up MESH to check the weather forecast online. Set up the LED block to light up to let you know if you should bring an umbrella before you leave.
Perfect match for Maker Faire
For Hagiwara and his team, the Maker Faire, a family-friendly festival of innovation and creativity, proved the perfect venue for showing off the MESH concept. “We received valuable feedback and comments from the Maker Faire attendees who all embody the culture of DIY, which is MESH’s target concept,” says Hagiwara. And as expected, hundreds of parents and children were able to get hands-on with prototype MESH building blocks, see how they work and interact, and submit ideas for their own applications.
According to Hagiwara, MESH remains a prototype product and the team is evaluating its potential further, based on feedback from users at the Maker Faire. There may be also an opportunity for developers to get additional access to an SDK to allow for further customization of MESH products. Stay tuned to Developer World for more information on MESH.
Is there a specific MESH hardware block that you’d like to see? Do you have a cool idea for your own MESH implementation? Share your suggestions with us in the Comments field below!
- Read the Sony Mobile blog interview of MESH Project Leader Takehiro Hagiwara.
- Connect with the official MESH Project Facebook page.
- Check out our MESH pics from Maker Faire Bay Area 2014.
- Read about our recently open-sourced, internal research project called EvolutionUI.
- Learn about the Sony Authoring Tools Framework, an open source game developer’s toolset.