Earlier this week, Google bought Nest, a connected devices company, for $3.2 billion. This might seem like an ungodly sum for a company that makes thermostats and smoke detectors, but it makes absolute sense. Nest’s products are beautifully designed, their team is overflowing with talent, and they were the first company to figure out what the “Internet of Things” means to consumers and deliver products that people actually want.
But in order to do this, Nest had to spend millions of dollars on R&D to build the basic infrastructure behind the product. The high cost made it impossible for anyone but the extremely well-capitalized to enter the market and create connected things.
Well, we want to change that. At Spark, we’re making it easier to bring connected devices to market with the Spark Core, our Wi-Fi development kit, and the Spark Cloud, our cloud service for connected devices. And to prove it, we built our own approximation of the Nest Learning Thermostat in one day — and we’ve open sourced everything. In this process, we’ve come to respect the incredible technical challenges that Nest has solved while also coming to understand how much the game has changed since they first started.
What’s better than a single LED? Lots of LEDs! A fun way to make a small display is to use an 8×8 matrix or a 4-digit 7-segment display. Matrices like these are ‘multiplexed’ – so to control 64 LEDs you need 16 pins. That’s a lot of pins, and there aredriver chips like the MAX7219 that can control a matrix for you but there’s a lot of wiring to set up and they take up a ton of space. Here at Adafruit we feel your pain! After all, wouldn’t it be awesome if you could control a matrix without tons of wiring? That’s where these adorable LED matrix backpacks come in. We have them in two flavors – a mini 8×8 and a 4-digit 0.56″ 7-segment. They work perfectly with the matrices we stock in the Adafruit shop and make adding a bright little display trivial.