The AWS IoT Mega Contest drew hundreds of entries from participants who worked on projects using Amazon Web Services’ Internet of Things tools.
For Amazon, the Internet of Things is literally taking flight.
On Thursday, Jeff Barr, the chief evangelist of Amazon.com’s cloud computing business, announced the results of a hardware hacking contest in which enthusiasts used Amazon Web Services’ Internet of Things (IoT) tools. One of the two first prize winners was a drone controlled by voice using Amazon Echo, the same cylindrical digital concierge that helped Alec Baldwin and Don Marino plan their raucous Super Bowl party in Amazon’s first Super Bowl ad.
A 2-minute video showcasing the project started out with a human voice (probably that of project author Chris Synan) asking Alexa, the artificial intelligence software animating Echo, for the meaning of the word drone, which it promptly provided. (one of Alexa’s most well-known features is regurgitating entries from Wikipedia.)
It was followed by a demonstration of a drone taking off, moving a specific distance, turning and landing, all in response to the voice of its human master.
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The second first-prize winner came from Marian Mihailescu, a new parent who came up with a plan to pepper a baby and his crib with sensors to record and analyze the behavior of sleeping (or not sleeping) infants. A dashboard would enable parents “to draw intelligent observations about the baby’s sleep preferences and even record how much night time each parent is spending with the baby in order to help fairly settle the inevitable disputes.
More than 850 people participated in the so-called “AWS IoT Mega Contest,” created by Amazon in collaboration with Hackster, an online community of Internet-connected hardware enthusiasts.
It’s a sign of how the still largely experimental sector has the potential to become a big business, one that Amazon plans to tap. And not only for developers banking on the AWS cloud-computing platform. Consumers devoted to home automation are already using Echo to control their living room lights.
In a post on the AWS blog, Barr wrote down among his conclusions that “IoT is here now. People are building devices, sites, and applications that are sophisticated and useful.”
But he also said that making them work in the real world is “a lot harder than running within the clean, abstract confines of a virtual machine.” A successful IoT application, he wrote, “must be prepared to deal with erroneous or missing data, intermittent connections, and more.”
Both first prize winners received a Kindle Fire HD 10 tablet.
Second and third Prize winners included a system that automatically pings authorities in case of a car crash and a system to remotely water houseplants and check on their health.