Arduinos are a godsend for the DIY/Tinkerer community, but there’s all sorts of stuff they just can’t do out of the box. Sure, you can add tons of functionality via strap-on boards called “shields”.. but those can get expensive quick. Want your Arduino project to be able to play sounds? That’ll be $20. Internet connectivity? $50. GPS? Another $50.
At Disrupt Europe back in October, a 8-man team out of Egypt showed up and amazed to the point that they were plucked out of the exhibition hall and put on stage as audience choice. Their product? The 1Sheeld, a single shield that lets you replace all of those other shields with your smartphone. Today, that project went up on Kickstarter and almost immediately destroyed its fundraising goal.
The idea is deceptively simple: when you’re building things with Arduino, you want all sorts of sensors, inputs (like switches and sliders), and outputs (like screens and speakers.) Your smartphone already has tons of sensors in it. Your smartphone’s touchscreen can act as a switch, or a slider, or a keypad. Your smartphone can display information, or playback sound. Why not let the smartphone be the shield? Enter 1Sheeld.
1Sheeld connects your Arduino to your smartphone (Android only, for now) to hook into its display, accelerometer, magnetometer, Wi-Fi, cellular connectivity, GPS, gyroscope, etc. Meanwhile, pre-provided shield templates allow your smartphone’s display to emulate a switch, slider, keypad, or LCD display without you actually having to wire anything up. Running on your phone is a middle-man app, which passes the data back and forth (over Bluetooth) and lets you switch between the 1sheeld’s myriad behaviors.
And if it doesn’t do something you need it to do? The team is pledging to open up the platform to outside developers in time, allowing them to add new shields of their own. Hell, you’ll even be able to upload your custom shields to the app store and sell’em there.
Of course, you probably won’t want to use 1sheeld in your project forever. Once you get it past the early prototype stage, you’d probably want to swap it out for a more permanent solution. They’ve designed the software side of things with that in mind; wherever they can, their library keeps things as simple as possible (and as close to the original Arduino libraries as possible) to make it easier to swap things out down the road.
The team launched this morning, hoping to raise a modest $10,000. With very little fanfare, they blasted through that goal in less than 6 hours — and at the time of publishing, they’ve more than doubled that. Though it’s slightly more expensive than what they were aiming for back at Disrupt, the board comes in with the surprisingly cheap price tag of 50 bucks (while they offered up a few early-bird deals, they’re sold out now). They’ve found a manufacturing partner in China, and hope to start delivering the first boards come May of next year.