In my last blog, I talked about how K2 – The Next Generation of Kinetis Solutions was fostering the momentum around new applications within the Internet of Things (IoT). A centerpiece of K2 is the new mbed-enabled Freescale Freedom development platform, FRDM-K64F, and now that it is in the hands of thousands of engineers already across the globe, I could not help but wonder what exactly was being done with such a full-featured platform? Luckily, I did not have to wonder for long as at FTF I ran into some folks from Whistle who came up with an idea to help cats gain even more independence. Whistle’s current product offering in the market is focused around dogs, the dog activity monitor, so it only made sense for them to innovate in a space that would help cats too!
The problem: many cats are indoor/outdoor cats and like the freedom to roam in and out. But what if you leave for the day with your cat outside and the cat wants to come back inside after you have left? You don’t want to just install a traditional cat door as that could be a welcome invitation for other wildlife in your neighborhood – like squirrels or raccoons, oh my!
Ernie Aguilar on software and David Isbister on hardware set off on a three-day journey to solve this very problem, and using the FRDM-K64F created a connected cat door that allows home owners to unlock and lock the cat door remotely based on the cat just tapping at the door. Affectionately called, “Don’t Not Enter” this invention gives more freedom to pets and to pet owners.
The idea is simple, really. The Kinetis K64 MCU talks to a computer, which has a telnet server set up, such that the Kinetis MCU can connect to its IP. A Python script runs on the computer, which routes telnet messages from a mobile phone back and forth between the computer. When a cat’s paw touches the sensor on the door, it triggers the Kinetis MCU to send a message to the Python script. The Python script then sends a message to the phone which is running telnet and alerts the owner that the cat is at the door.
The FRDM-K64F development platform was the ideal solution for this invention due to its small form-factor (small enough to fit into a mint tin), its feature-rich peripheral set, and its comprehensive software enablement support. The Whistle team certainly took advantage of many of the on-board features, using the PWM to control a servo, Ethernet to connect to the computer for the chat server, the button switches to control the door, UART to control a console, and GPIOs for LEDs and a capacitive touch feature.
With IDE support from Freescale, along with Freescale’s Processor Expert Software, a time-saving GUI software platform used to create, configure, optimize, and deliver software components that generate source code for Freescale silicon, the Whistle team was able to program the board quickly and bring their concept to life during the FTF show.
I am a dog person myself, but certainly see this application as applicable for dogs too. A door with sensors like this would have saved my own home doors and screens from years of doggy abuse. This application is just another example of how the IoT evolution will impact everyone – even our furry little friends at home.
The FRDM-K64F development platform was the foundation of this innovation. This board is ARM® mbed™-enabled and supported by a vast array of Freescale software, including the new Kinetis Design Studio and Kinetis software development kit. In addition, the FRDM-K64F platform is form-factor compatible with the Arduino R3 pin layout, providing a broad range of expansion board options. So, what other new, cool and inventive solutions can be made using the latest FRDM-K64F development platform? Today we kicked off Mountain Mondays (aka #MountainMondays), a social media contest surrounding K2 – the next generation of Kinetis solutions. Through this contest we are giving away 100 FRDM-K64F development platforms over five weeks of Mountain Mondays. So, be sure to follow Freescale’s Facebook and Twitter pages for more details.
Kathleen Jachimiak is a product launch marketer for Freescale's microcontroller division.