1Sheeld Uses Your SmartPhone As An Arduino Accessory


The Arduino can be a bit of a gateway board. You start with an Uno, then a shield, then another. Before you know it, you have an entire collection of shields. This is the problem 1Sheeld wants to solve. 1Sheeld allows a you to use your cell phone as a sensor and I/O suite for your Arduino, replacing many existing shields. We think this will be a great idea, especially with all the older phones coming off contract these days. The sensor capabilities of the average smartphone, as well as the LCD and touchscreen I/O capabilities could make for an interesting pairing.

Currently the 1Sheeld page is just a sign up for an upcoming kickstarter, which leaves many details to the imagination. It appears that the 1Sheeld will be a bluetooth based board. A few questions do remain to be answered though – will the 1Sheeld use the Android ADK? The software is what we’re waiting to see. The software running in the 1Sheeld module bluetooth chip will be important, but the software running phone side will be the real make or break of this module. We would love to see more smartphones being used for hardware hacking rather than collecting dust once they’ve been replaced.

[Via TechCrunch]

34 thoughts on “1Sheeld Uses Your SmartPhone As An Arduino Accessory

    1. I think its just trying to have a slightly standardised way of interacting with your device, without having to write an app yourself! While everything in what they have is possible and has been done before, it usually involves a lot of manual coding so this may get around that and have a more ‘plug and play’ and using a library to do all the heavy lifting for you.

  1. I’d really like these posts to be about real hacks. The occasional kickstarter is also okay, but now we have what essentially accounts to pure marketing hype. No product, no way to buy it, just the announcement that there will be a kickstarter and a snazzy article. Do we really need reporting on this at this point? Especially since it’s neither a game-changer nor rich on technical details, but probably just some bluetooth module, an arduino library, and an app cobbled together.

    1. I think HaD is still trying to find its “Editorial Voice” under its new ownership – the slightly spurious competitions, themed articles and OpEd are all a bit of a mishmash and rather confused atm. I hope the dust settles soon…

        1. One thing that they’ve done right is that there are MOAR articles per day. Surely not all of them suit all tastes but you can never satisfy everyone. It used to be very frustrating when I visited hackaday several times a day just to find that nothing was added.

          1. Kerimil: You are a bitter immature person. Whenever there’s a post or article about an application combining Android and Arduino you are always posting disparaging and backhanded comments and plugging your product. Just deal with the fact that there are people who are more talented than you.

  2. At what point does the ardunio become just a GPIO breakout for the smartphone? Seems a bit pointless strapping a very limited MCU to what is relatively speaking a supercomputer, and then just using the supercomputer bit for its sensors & screen.

    I would like to see a lot more concerted effort to jailbreak/root old phones, tablets, etc. so they can be re-used & re-purposed (much like OpenWRT has done with routers).

    1. The phone’s processing power can be useful for visualizing the data in a variety of different ways in real time, while also logging and that sort of thing. It’s also nice to have a single device you can hook up to any project to get whatever info you need.

      That’s all I can think of.

    2. I agree. That was my first thought. This is where I think the Arduino really trips up on itself.

      Don’t get me wrong. I really like the AVR and use it in a lot of projects (no Arduino though, thank you very much). But in a recent project I needed at least 64K of unbroken parallel (or XMEM) access RAM. To buy such a board or combination of boards, Arduino or not was about $45ish or more. Not a good deal when you realize a Beaglebone Black has a huge leap in processing power, acccessories, and RAM for a comparable cost.

      What was it that Malcom said? They were so caught up in whether or not they could they didn’t stop to think whether or not they should?

      Time to stop looking at everything like a hammer Arduino fans. Most of the shields are just made by jackasses trying to squeeze you for your money.

    3. For certain tasks an arduino will always be better than a GPIO expander, because you can use the arduino to provide realtime control of a peripheral, which is something a phone OS is likely to handle very poorly.

  3. Here was my attempt to achieve the same. Just needs a bluetooth module and allows you to write your own custom apps easily.


    It works great but I think I’ll make a new version that uses an ethernet shield or tplink router instead of bluetooth. Also I’ve seen a guy who was quite successful with using arduino with those android dongles. Not sure if he’s ok with me posting it here and I didn’t have a chance to test it yet but here you are >> http://forum.arduino.cc//index.php?topic=194658.msg1442401#msg1442401

  4. Not an aruduino fan to start with, but this just re-enforces what I don’t like about it.
    Take a $45 dollar microcontroller, which you probably don’t need to start with for most projects, when the AVR thats on there would do just fine on its own and apply it to (insert your simplistic project here). Overkill. Or you need more power which the AVR on the arduino cannot handle on its own, but you don’t know enough beyond arduino because you’ve had your hand held for far to long to implement a more powerful device.
    NOW take that amount of over/under kill and throw a $100 smartphone at it. And yeah, there are a lot of throw away android phones out there, but is this REALLY the best thing to do with that old phone? You could sell it and put whatever you make towards a better solution or just use the processing power of the phone itself, learn to code for it and forget the silly kids toy arduino altogether.

    One of the spirits of hardware hacking used to be for a lack of funding to have a cool toy, so you would cobble together the next best thing using thrift store parts and surplus junk. Now the hipster set comes along with bottomless credit cards and seem to want to buy their way out of every situation or have this “just make it go” instant gratifaction mentality about everything. I just wish I had that much money lying around to throw away…

    1. The point here is that most shields are overpriced. A smartphone can act as a gsm, wifi, accelerometer, gyro, display, sd card reader, touch screen and audio shield all in one. That’s more of a hack than just buying a shield and following a simple example posted somewhere. There have always been people like you – ‘what a microcontroller ?? The same could be achieved with just 178 discreet components’.

      1. No. That’s not the point at all. The point is, why use an Arduino or shields at all? You have an ARM processor with mounds more power. Move the processing to the ARM and stop trying to make the AVR the end all cure all.

        Arduino holds your hands so much that too many people who use that platform are incapable of using anything else. This is exactly the same problem that has plagued OOPic, Visual Basic and Java (amongst others) for years. There’s no real advancement. A hammer is still a hammer no matter how big of a handle you put on it.

        People really need to make that leap. That step that expands your knowledge and broadens the tool base.

        1. > Arduino holds your hands so much that too many people who use that platform are incapable of using anything else.

          It’s not crippling people into being unable to use other development platforms, it’s allowing people to automate their projects when they otherwise wouldn’t bother because everything else is more difficult.

          1. And when they encounter something difficult? What then? Do they create executable code inside VB strings because C is “too hard”? Write their own JAVA interpreter on a MCU because it’s too difficult to write a block of C?

            The introduction isn’t the problem. Never was. The problem is taking off those training wheels. Learning how to use that AVR without the crutch that is Arduino.

            Atari BASIC was a nightmare (anyone remember line numbering?) that writing code in VB is like a wet dream. But when you start jumping through more and more hoops to get something done that could be done in a better manner using a different tool, it’s time to move forward.

        2. I think of the reasons why arduino is so succesfull is because you can get amtega’s in DIP package and arduino IDE is really simple to use. Show TI or nxp how to come up with an IDE that’s easy enough to be used by beginners and doesn’t require you to register before downloading and I am sure other people will follow.

    2. I’m not supporting or knocking this particular project but sometimes the part of the project people want to play with is not the coding or hardware part. Arduino satisfies that niche by giving people an easy interface to make the projects they want. I don’t agree with it all, but (using me as an example) I know that I used an arduino to light up a traffic light here at work because i just wanted the project done. It wasn’t about learning to code for a PIC or directly onto an AVR it was about making a light illuminate when people walked by. It was a two hour project from start to finish. The arduino gives people that freedom as do the various shields. You need to pick and choose the parts of your projects that you want to invest in. Am I investing time to learn certain programming skills for other projects of mine? Yes, I am but sometimes it’s a one and done kind of thing.

      1. Sadly, this is a 2 hour or less than project with a bare metal AVR… Then I am only out maybe $5 plus some change for the LEDS, transistors and sensors, all in all costing less than a vanilla arduino board for retail at radio shack when all is said and done…

  5. I realize the Arduino world is like Duplo blocks vs LEGO to real electronics engineers, so I can see why stuff like this drives some of you nuts. However, I’m still learning a lot myself – I have an Arduino UNO and an Arduino MEGA. I find it’s nice to be able to easily slap an idea together, but I know it’s important that I learn beyond that of the Arduino world.

    As a software programmer I wanted to learn more about electronics so bought a few books: Getting Started in Electronics by Forrest M. Mimms (every noob needs this one), Robot Building for Beginners, 123 Robotics Experiments for the Evil Genius (it came with a PCB for use with a BASIC Stamp 2 – you know…an OLD Arduino.)

    What’s worse is that all I had for tools was a cheap soldering iron…and that was about it. I have dumped around $2,000 into my new hobby this year: variable temp soldering iron, solder iron tips, connecting wire, power adapters, helping hands, magnifying lamp, batteries, organizer drawers, breadboards, ESD mat, iFixit driver kit, DeWalt cordless drills, heat gun, Dremel tool, a good multimeter, M/F jumper wire, various sensors I found on Amazon, servos, a nibbler, LCD screens, ATTiny85s, Op-Amps, 555 ICs, XBee RF modules, H-bridge motor drivers (L293Ds), those handy little Elenco resistor/transistor/capacitor/diode kits, and let’s not forget the BASIC Stamp 2 was about $50. I could add more to this list but I think you get the picture.

    That being said, “hobby electronics” isn’t a cheap hobby. I would have gotten into this as a kid if I’d had access to the equipment (couldn’t afford it on a $2/week allowance and my family was poor.) I can see the 1Sheeld as being a handy piece to have around the workbench to make hooking up the phone really simple.

    HaD has changed a bit, and they often cater to the neophytes, but all you old timers need not forget there are those of us who read HaD daily and truly appreciate some of the newbie articles for the sake of learning something new.

    The “I wish I had that kind of money” or “those hipsters with bottomless credit cards” comments sound to me like laziness and jealousy: I thought you guys were supposed to be geniuses? Is it really that hard to take on some extra repair work outside of a regular workday to make some cash for your toys? It’s not hard to swap out blown caps in monitors, replace the digitizer on iPads/iPods/etc., or to fix someone’s really slow computer (all of which are very common problems people have.)

    Anyway, I’ll stop ranting. Thanks, HaD – I’ve learned a lot this year and I have you guys to thank for some of my new found knowledge!

    1. I respectfully take offense to your remarks! I work full time during the day as an Embedded designer, and I also work almost all my evenings doing consulting work to help make ends meet. Some of us have families to support, and other obligations that require some responsibility. Lumping me into a category of jealous and lazy is quite offensive!

      Truth is, a lot of society has gotten to the point of instant gratification, and the ‘I want it now’ mentality. Electronics for me has always been a toil and learn, and read, and study and think to make it work how you want. While I applaud the Arduino for the opportunity it has given many to learn, there needs to be more encouragement to expand yourself and grow beyond it in the community. This how the movement starts to grow and become stronger! Sometimes it seems that people don’t care to grow, and get lazy! Sadly there isn’t much push to change this attitude in the community.

      1. I meant no offense so I do apologize.

        I just get miffed by the “jealousy of money” remarks people often spout because it seems they’re feeling sorry for themselves for not having what others do. The fact is, I chose not to get married and have kids (am a 33yo career guy with a dog), I don’t use credit cards (I don’t like borrowing money from anyone), I have no commute (I work from home) and I try to pay my bills months in advance to stay ahead.

        I admit it’s a lonelier life in my little workshop dungeon, but we all make sacrifices, don’t we?

        I agree with your instant gratification comment completely: I had to wait 3 weeks for my L293D DIP chips to come in from China, and spent countless hours reading datasheets, instructables and blogs to understand how to use them. I could have bought a simple kit or shield, but I value the extra time spent learning the fine details. Younger generations tend to shy away from the wait and would just buy a $15/$20 motor shield as a shortcut, learning very little in the process.

        So, I think we’re on the same page here, but I was wrong for stereotyping; sorry about that.

  6. BTW – Phoneblocks project just ended successfully campaign on Thunderclap thunderclap[dot]it[slash]projects[slash]2931-phonebloks , and starting next step of development of modular platform for smartphones in collaboration with Motorolla – phonebloks[dot]com

    “With all this amazing support we want to take it to the next step. We found a good partner and we are going to build an open-source online platform so you can help developing it.
    It is a new way of designing and making phones.”
    Just FYI, may this will usefull for someone who didn’t hear about this project yet.

  7. Y’know fellas, not everybody wants to be an electrical (or electronics) engineer. Or an engineer period,

    i don’t mean to generalize, but The people griping about products such as the one proposed here come across as elitist techno snobs. Is there a rite of passage somewhere that I should be aware of that I will need to accomplish before any projects I may be working on will be considered “worthy”? Should I plan on Mining and Smelting my own raw materials if I want to be considered legit?

    “the true spirit of hacking/making is truly lost on the mobs of people who simply buy a shield to perform the function they want to implement”

    “One of the spirits of hardware hacking used to be for a lack of funding to have a cool toy, so you would cobble together the next best thing using thrift store parts and surplus junk. Now the hipster set comes along with bottomless credit cards and seem to want to buy their way out of every situation or have this “just make it go” instant gratifaction mentality about everything. I just wish I had that much money lying around to throw away…”

    The “spirit(s) of hacking”?!?

    “eenie meanie, chili beanie, the spirits are about to speak!”..

    Seems to me like they are alive and well when enterprising young people come up with a reasonably priced tool that the average person can use to take advantage of another reasonably priced tool (Arduino) and make something useful out of old cell phones.

    Poopooing an idea just because you could have done it for less from scratch is chickenshit.

    Time is money too. And investing a bunch of it obtaining the knowledge (and tools) just for the bragging rights of scratch built components doesn’t automatically rate the efforts as superior in my mind. While i will give kudos to anyone for scratch building any or all of their ‘hack’, that alone is less important than how well it functions or solves the problem it was meant to.

    Finding and utilizing ready made components that help you get on with the build isn’t ‘buying your way out of a problem’, it is solving it. Or, to be more precise, Eliminating it.

    I hope this comes to fruition. I have several last gen smartphones that I was looking to harvest and use components from. This could simplify a lot of that process and if it works as advertised, along with the smart board, actually will have me thinking of exploring other areas I might not have before. Good work.

    One last thing. Its not the size of the hammer that counts. Its how well you swing it.


  8. It seems that there are many who hate Arduino around.Why hate it when it has created an environment which enables everyone to bring their ideas to reality? And if anyone is arguing that it is hiding technical details, take my case, I began with Arduino and now I am doing some great programming with AVR C. If you say that Arduino is expensive, you have to keep in mind that the entire thing is open source and you can always build your own. Plus you don’t even need an Arduino board, you can always grab the hex file resulting from compilation burn it to the AVR and it simply works. And when it comes to processing power, yes there are powerful ARMs out there but using an ARM to blink a few LEDs or rotate a motor is quite insane. In my case, the Arduino has been a platform to start out and has given me the confidence to move headlong into the technical world.

  9. The HaD community is so smart and yet sometimes so naive. . .
    If you are hating on the arduino because you can “simply” build the parts of the board you need, or complain that there’s no point dumbing down the coding process, you have missed the point.

    It is to allow people to develop products/projects that would otherwise present too steep of a learning curve. “The learning curve isn’t steep its easy” Well to you it is. Some people don’t code, some people don’t understand circuitry. These people still want to develop electronics, now more than ever they are.

    Arduino made things more accessible. There’s always going to be a better way to do things (many of you are using a computer you paid too much for because you could’t be bothered or didn’t want to do the appropriate research) but that doesn’t make it the ONLY or RIGHT way to do it.

    Lay off the noobs, you were there once.

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