The vast amount of information at our fingertips these days can be as distracting as it is useful. Tracking something like the movement of an index on the stock market by feverishly checking a ticker all day is often more than you want to deal with. So this cube lets you display data it receives wirelessly from the Internet—trends in the market, the weather, your Twitter traffic—in the simplest form possible, as light that subtly changes in color and intensity. Say the skies are expected to clear up: Per your programming instructions, the cube will just turn a pleasant blue. Inside, an open-source Arduino microcontroller with Wi-Fi connectivity runs the show, downloading any data source (RSS feeds, for example) and translating it into instructions for the attached LEDs. Then you can just kick back and enjoy the light show.
Time: 1 Hour
For more detailed help, check out Vin's source code and a project wiki on Github.
1. Get a translucent housing [A] for the project. We used the GRÖNÖ lamp from Ikea ($15 for a set of two; ikea.com).
2. Build the circuit, connecting the LEDs [B] and all the other parts to the Arduino micro-
3. Choose from the available code on popsci.com to find a data stream you’d like to monitor, or write your own
4.Upload the program onto the Arduino controller. Put the electronics inside the base of the housing
5. Find a home for the cube (or place multiple cubes together), and start getting informed
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.