Introduction to the cloud(Bit) ☁
So you've got you're shiny new Smart Home Kit or you're a littleBits veteran
and want to dive into the wonderful world of the internet of things (
IoT). We'll check out some of the infinite possibilities of the cloudBit and how it can be used to give the rest of your bits superpowers that they previously didn't posses.
Just like the rest of the littleBits modules, underdog gets his powers from the Internet. Ok not really, but that would be cool.
What are these superpowers?
The cloudBit allows us to harness the power of the Internet and how it connects people, devices, and web applications together. It allows us to tap into
services like google docs to track how much coffee we've consumed or setup a timer powered by the internet to create a automatic pet feeder.
In this guide we'll look at a few things:
- What is an Internet of Thing?
- What/where is the cloud?
- What is IFTTT?
- cloudBit as a giant infinite wire.
- Breaking down the various components of your first circuit. What
Partly cloudy with chance of internet
You've probably heard of
smart almost anything
these days. The cloudBit has the ability to take
dumb things in your house and turn them into
The idea around the cloudBit isn't just being an internet of thing but a
bit that can turn anything into an internet of thing. It has tiny baby
raspberry pi like computer that does all the magic for you. There's no need to fiddle with settings or purchase wifi adapters, the cloudBit is a
batteries included solution.
How does the cloud ☁ work?
Another term that's thrown around a lot when talking about internet of things is the
the cloud or
cloud computing. Think of the cloud as you would a utility like electricity, your power company provides a
That service provides electricity from a power plant to your home via an electrical grid. The opposite of that would be having your own generator and providing that electricity yourself.
That same analogy works for the cloud ☁ as well. You have
web services that provide music, movies, or documents on the internet instead of locally on your computer.
The cloudBit allows us to take our bits and hook them into these various services. At first it sounds like that would require a lot of programming, but there's a service to manage services so you don't have to code!
If This Then That
Another thing you might have noticed is that your cloudBit integrates with a service called
IFTTT out of the box.
If This Then That lets you connect your cloudBit to some of you favorite apps and devices.
The way it works is IF something happens like your
cloudBit receives input (a button press) THEN do something like send a text message.
All you have to do is sign-up, create a recipe and select your cloudBit. You can also use pre-existing recipes to get some ideas of what you can do with IFTTT.
For instance your first remote pet feeder recipe would look like something this:
The internet ☁ as a giant infinite wire
One of the misconceptions of the cloudBit is that it adds
internet to your
bits. That's not entirely false but not totally true either. The cloudBit uses the internet as a infinitely long
wire to send
input over or have the
output to your littleBits circuits. Essentially turning the
internet into a really really really long never ending wire.
Imagine creating a Rube Goldberg machine in your house with littleBits and adding the cloudBit to the end of it. Once your cloudBit receives
input it can pass it along to another cloudBit anywhere in the world. Essentially you'd be able to create a global Rube Goldberg machine that's connected by a virtual cloudBit wire!
What is my cloudBit sending and receiving?
The cloudBit essentially sends and receives electrical signals to the internet in the form of
power. This signal is sent to our own cloud service first and can be seen in Cloud Control. From there it can be sent to another service like IFTTT. You can also control your circuit from Cloud Control as well but we'll talk about that in a second.
Power being transferred from the cloudBit to IFTTT
You can send power coming from the
input of your littleBits circuit to a IFTTT recipe. If the power of your circuit reaches a certain level then the recipe will go off.
The simplest example would be a button. If a button hasn't be pressed than no power is being sent to the cloud. As soon as you push your button a
signal is received by the cloudBit. That
power goes to the littleBits cloud ☁ and then is passed onto
service like IFTTT.
Think of it as an email being forwarded but in this case you're sending an email to the cloudBit which is then being forwarded to IFTTT.
power, button, ☁ , text message!
Conversely you can have an IFTTT recipe send
power to you littleBits circuit as well! So you can have a recipe that makes your buzzer go off each time some favorites your tweet or push the big purple button and Cloud Control will remotely move your servo!
You can also manage how much output you'd like to send to your littleBits circuit and for how long.
power, cloud control , ☁ , turn servo!
move my servo!
Ciruit break down
We've been looking at some diagrams and if you're not entirely familiar with the littleBits eco-system then let's take a look at some of the different modules that make up your circuit.
The entire system is color coded so it's very easy to pick-up.
Everything starts with power, it's essential to every circuit you'll ever build with littleBits and it's represented as the color
Side note: The usb power is not used for data communication, we'll only be using it power our cloudBit.
Side Side note: You can only use the p3 power with the cloudBit and it's accompanying power supply.
Input is represented as
pink, which means that anything pink can control the
flow of the electrical signal that is coming from the
So think of the button as a dam, if the button is pressed it lets a signal through much like when dam is opened, this lets the rest of your circuit know that your button has been pressed.
The button is usually just on or off but you can also have a range of values from 0 - 99 with a slider or dimmer.
Like I mentioned before under cloud control you will see these values under the "receive" tab.
If you're familiar with the littleBits system you might have an idea of how the
wire bits work. They're just like
wires you've seen everywhere else they connect one device to another. In our case the cloudBit creates a "wire" to the internet and back.
Output is exactly what it sounds like, it's a bit that does something. Through cloud control or IFTTT the cloudBit can turn on output bits like LEDs, motors, or buzzers.
You can send output to the right side of your cloudBit circuit via cloud control using the big purple button or the slider. Tap that button and the cloudBit will turn on any output bit.
A (cloudy) world of possibilities
The next series of cloud guides will cover some more advanced topics like how you can use your cloudBit with an Arduino. Or if you know a little programming, you can use our API to hook the cloudBit to anything you'd like!
If you're haven't had a chance to checkout our other guides they're all right here:
- getting started
- api guide