Quick and Easy IoT Prototyping with Involt

IoT, web apps, and connected devices are all becoming increasingly popular. But, the market still resembles a wild west apothecary, and no single IoT ecosystem or architecture seems to be the one bottle of snake oil we’ll all end up using. As such, we hackers are keen to build our own devices, instead of risking being locked into an IoT system that could become obsolete at any time. But, building an IoT device and interface takes a wide range of skills, and those who are lacking skill in the dark art of programming might have trouble creating a control app for their shiny new connected-thing.

Enter Involt, which is a framework for building hardware control interfaces using HTML and CSS. The framework is built on Node-Webkit, which means the conventions should be familiar to those with a bit of web development background. Hardware interactions (on Arduinos) are handled with simple CSS classes. For example, a button might contain a CSS class which changes an Arduino pin from high to low.

Involt can take that CSS and convert it into a function, which is then sent to the Arduino via serial or Bluetooth communication. For more advanced functionality, Javascript (or really any other language) can be used to define what functions are generated — and, in turn, sent to the Arduino. But, all that is needed for the basic functionality necessary for many IoT devices (which might only need to be turned on and off, or set to a certain value) is a bit of HTML and CSS knowledge. You’ll create both the interface and the underlying hardware interactions all within an HTML layout with CSS styling and functionality.

While Involt isn’t the only framework to simplify hardware interaction (it’s not even the only Node.js based method), the simplicity is definitely laudable. For those who are just getting started with these sorts of devices, Involt can absolutely make the process faster and less painful. And, even for those who are experienced in this arena, the speed and efficiency of prototyping with Involt is sure to be useful.

20 thoughts on “Quick and Easy IoT Prototyping with Involt

          1. As some one getting started in this sector I’m genuinely curious.

            Is TLS 1.2 inherently flawed and insecure or are there issues with how developers implement the library? In other words what do you do to use TLS 1.2 in a secure fashion?

  1. Hmmm, there’s a public co in Australia sort of addressing this but,
    from the perspective of a commercial product through a s/w interface…
    http://www.xped.com/IRM/content/default.aspx
    Their trying this to a degree but a tad too proprietary for it to take off in
    any sort of hobby sphere yet in its current form, also its patented ADRC
    seems to have a a couple of integration issues which frankly can be surpassed
    with a couple of other techniques, one of which I’ve seen during travels.

    I dabbled in their shares for a while but, couldn’t see it progressing
    in my time line/liquidity with any sort of breakout – unlike IOT group
    http://theiotgroup.com/
    which had a fair to nice break out from 2.5c to 17.5c/shrare (thanks).
    If there’s still minimal competition or its indirect & it (IOT/XPE) gets a good
    tech/licensing break might buy back in to take up the slack ;-)

  2. So if the end user changes the css in the browser (through the debugging tools), he could actually alter the control of the device (Arduino in this case). This is definitely not secure.

    1. I could be wrong, but I don’t think so. If I’m interpreting their design correctly, the CSS is only used to generate the functions initially, it’s not actually used during presentation (other than as a button or whatever you’re using for control). Though again, I could be wrong.

  3. Why have your IoT open to the Internet? I can see the value in access to cameras and maybe a garage-door opener for the FedEx man, but that can go on a separate router at home rather then the full home network that includes the IoT stuff. No?

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