Ian Jennings — Developer Experience based in Austin, TX

I created this Internet of Things (IOT) model house for PubNub to use on the floor at trade shows. I had the pleasure of demonstrating the project at CES in 2015.

The images here are stills from the YouTube video

The project was inspired by my time working conferences. I would wave my hands; trying to explain how PubNub worked to confused attendees. I thought that if I could just pull out my phone and show them what PubNub did, they’d understand.

The IOT house proved to be a huge hit. The YoutTube video alone has more than 50k views, making it the most popular video PubNub has ever created.

The project had some unique challenges. It was simple enough to prototype, but it needed to be shipped around the globe and assembled by any PubNub team member, not just those that know how to program. In fact, the first time we demoed it I wasn’t present.

  • Slat design allowed the house to be assembled without tools or glue
  • Large pelican case customized to fit the house specifically
  • LTE hotspot allowed the house to operate without having to be configured to the local wifi.
  • Labeled wires allowed for easy assembly and debugging
  • A companion kit toolbox that included the exact screwdrivers, bits, extra arduino boards, wires, servos, batteries, etc.
  • 20 page instruction manual describing the setup, code, how to demo, how to pack, common problems with the house, and frequently asked questions.
  • 30 minute video describing the house, kit, and common repairs

Some more technical details:

The model house was cut by laser and then modified with power tools to facilitate four lights and two servos. A prototype circuit board was soldered to provide resistance to the LEDs, supply external power to the servos, and provide a common ground.

The project was prototyped with an Arduino Uno (Rev 3) with a Seed Studio Ethernet Shield (v2). It has since been updated to an Arduino Yún which includes onboard WiFi.

The Arduino is powered by a USB battery pack and gets internet from a WiFi hotspot. The servos are powered by four AA batteries, making it possible for the entire project to operate completely wireless.

When the model house connects to the internet, it opens a connection to PubNub and begins waiting for messages. When someone taps “Open Garage” on their phone, their phone signals PubNub and PubNub tells the house to open the garage door.

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