Monday, May 16, 2011

Use Android Open Accessory Without Android Programming

I have to admit, I find the Android / Arduino intersection to be the nexus of nerdliness.  I mean that in the best possible way.

For those unfamiliar with the Arduino, it's a micro-controller platform based on an Atmel chip that simplifies the process of processing input from a wide array of sensor input and controlling a similarly broad range of output devices ranging from lights and servos, to sound, etc.  Yes, there are more capable platforms and less expensive platforms, but the Arduino at around $30 is an incredible gateway to that larger world.  It allows folks like myself to skip the minutiae and get  right to the fun parts of physical computing.  I had a few years of college level electronics and had forgotten it all before I graduated.  Getting an Arduino and programming it to control the color of an RGB LED or respond to varying resistance from a flex sensor scratches a very geeky itch.

The fact that Google selected Arduino as the base platform for their accessory kit says a lot about the momentum of this micro controller platform.  It's unfortunate that they chose to make their android accessory kit less than 100% compatible with basic Arduinos, and bewildering why it costs $400.  The good news is that because of the broad range of support the Arduino has in the wild, many developers have already begun to hook up your vanilla boards to Android handsets.

Make magazine has been a great resource for all things Arduino and shared this link for an Android app that can communicate with your Arduino and vice-versa.  There's more great coverage on the significance of all of this at Make Magazine

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