New IOIO in the works

There’s a new version of the IOIO on the way and we think you’re going to like the goals this redesign aims to achieve. If you’re not familiar, the IOIO is an Android accessory board. It connects to the phone via USB and is aimed at making it easier to build your own hardware peripherals for the handhelds. Just look around here for a while and you’ll find a bunch of projects that are built around this board (for instance: adding MIDI control to your phone).

With [Ytai’s] announcement that the second generation IOIO is in the works he touches on price and functionality improvements. Certainly the $50 cost of the original board is pretty low, but if you’re just planning on hacking for giggles it’s a roadblock. Although no number has been quoted, the plan is to make the new rendition more affordable. As for functionality, the next generation will be a USB On-the-Go device. This means it can be a master when connected to the phone, or a slave when plugged into a computer. There are also a smattering of electrical design improvements.

Control an Arduino from Android over Bluetooth

Whether you’d like to do some real-time logging of data, or just want to control a project with your Android phone, [Thomas]’s Arduino-Android Bluetooth connection instructable is sure to be useful

[Thomas]’ build uses the very inexpensive JY-MCU Bluetooth module that’s available on eBay or dealextreme. This Bluetooth module ties directly into the Tx and Rx lines of the Arduino so a wireless serial connection between an Android device can be established. On the Android side of the build, Python for Android and the Scripting Layer for Android allow for reading wireless sensor data over Bluetooth.

While connecting an Android device to an Arduino is also possible with an IOIO  or an Android Open Accessory dev kit, we haven’t seen much (barring this) about controlling or reading simple electronics with Android over Bluetooth. Sometimes you just don’t need an awesome dev board to bodge up a simple project, so we hope [Thomas]’s very nice instructable will help get a few more builds off the ground.

Control MIDI with an Android device

[Lewis] wanted to control MIDI devices with the huge touch screen that is his Android phone. After he couldn’t find a simple hardware implementation of MIDI out, he turned to an IOIO board to send MIDI notes to just about any imaginable musical hardware. It’s a clean build and fills a gap in the abilities of the Android platform.

Because of the woeful support of MIDI in Android, [Lewis] couldn’t find a good way to push MIDI notes from his phone to other devices. While there are a few high-overhead options like MIDI over wi-fi or a Bluetooth connection, there wasn’t much in the way of a straight-up hardware connection to other MIDI devices. [Lewis] got around this limitation by using an IOIO board and the right software to send MIDI notes though a DIN-5 connector.

Although the project works as intended, [Lewis]’ build could be made more permanent by building one of these MIDI interfaces and wiring that to the IOIO. All the Android code is up and available, along with a neat demo of [Lewis] controlling the delay time of an effects unit in his guitar rig. You can check that video out after the break.

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Controlling an LED matrix with an Android phone

Even though everyone with a smart phone has a small, powerful computer in their pocket, we haven’t seen many applications of this portable processing power that use the built-in camera. [Michael] decided to change this and built an LED matrix that displays the data coming from the phone’s camera.

For the build, [Michael] used two 32×32 LED panels from Adafruit along with an IOIO and an Arduino. To build the Android app, [Michael] used the Android OpenCV computer vision library that grabs an image from the Android camera and downsamples it to 64×32 pixels. This data is transferred over a serial connection from the phone to the IOIO and again from the IOIO to the Arduino. Even though each frame is 1024 bytes, [Michael] still gets around four frames per second on his LED matrix display.

After the break you can check out the results of [Michael]’s build. The video is a little choppy because of the frame rate issue, but it’s still an interesting build in the Android software development category.

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Phone-controlled light display is simple and fun


[Ytai Ben-Tsvi] wrote in to share a little holiday project that he and friend [Al Linke] put together, a dynamic light display that takes its cues from his Android-powered smartphone.

The display fits in a vase that sits in [Ytai’s] family room, and while it wasn’t exactly cheap to build, it sure looks nice. The vase is full of feathery decorative bits which help hide an addressable RGB LED strip. The lights are controlled by an IOIO board which the pair tucked away inside the vase as well.

The IOIO board was also fitted with a USB Bluetooth dongle, allowing it to communicate with just about any handset running a relatively recent flavor of the Android OS. When connected, the phone samples its surroundings with the onboard camera, commanding the vase to mix the colors seen by the phone into its twinkling display.

As you can see in the video below it works pretty well when used with solid, brightly colored objects. While just a fun toy in its current form, [Ytai] and [Al] have more than a few ideas on how to expand its usability.

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Bluetooth enabled breathalyzer

[Al] at Open Gadgets just put the finishing touches on his Android breathalyzer. It’s the perfect thing to install on ex-girlfriends’ phones to prevent 2 a.m. drunk dialing.

The project started off as a talking breathalyzer connected to a computer that tweeted your BAC, gave weather and stock readouts, and functioned as a photo booth. Since the first reveal of his project, [Al] moved from the desktop world to the mobile domain.

The breathalyzer itself is contained entirely in an Altoids tin. The build is based on the IOIO board that recently got support for Bluetooth. An alcohol sensor in the project measures the alcohol content of the surrounding atmosphere and reports this back to a phone over Bluetooth. There’s no word if the Android version of [Al]’s breathalyzer has the Twitter and photo booth functions, they would be relatively easy to add.

While a wirelesss, tweeting breathalyzer lends itself to a competition for a high score, [Al]’s project could have a few very good implantation; a DIY auto ignition interlock would be a very useful device for some people. Check out the videos of [Al]’s builds after the break.

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Bluetooth for Android open accessories

[Ytai], the lead developer for the IOIO breakout board for the Android Open Accessory kit, figured out how to control just about anything from an Android phone wirelessly over Bluetooth.

When [Ytai] first announced the IOIO breakout board for Android devices, one of the commentors on his post said a standard Bluetooth dongle could stand in for the USB cable between the phone and the IOIO. Wireless control of home automation project and robots was just too good of an idea to let go, so [Ytai] dove into this new Bluetooth project.

After getting a cheap Bluetooth dongle from DealExtreme, [Ytai] found btstack, a lightweight Bluetooth stack that was perfect for an embedded environment. Dealing with the USB driver for a no-name Bluetooth adapter didn’t come as easily, but after a few long nights, [Ytai] emerged victorious.

He still has a few more problems to overcome. Namely, supporting environments where more than IOIO board is available. [Ytai] is thinking about adding support for WiFi dongles, something we’d love to see. Check out [Ytai]’s demo of wireless control of a servo after the break.

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