Particle (formerly Spark) has been making huge ripples in the IoT community lately, and this week we had a chance to unbox their latest product, the Electron.
The Electron (starting at $49USD), unlike their Wifi predecessors, operates on the GSM (cell phone) networks. For hobbyists, prototypers and companies looking to scale devices that need communication, the freedom of not having to be tethered to a Wifi access point is a great feature.
Now you can monitor your geocache, track your bike, or record the weather from the top of your office. Sometimes Wifi is far enough out-of-range to be a pain, and the Electron provides huge flexibility.
The data plan is pretty affordable: $3/month for the first 1MB, and $1 for every extra 1MB. This means that the Electron is suitable for low-communication applications, like reporting temperature every 10 minutes or recording sun brightness or GPS position. It would be pretty expensive to send images or video on a regular interval.
The Electron can be programmed using the familiar Arduino-esque syntax through their web IDE, and it can be flashed over the cloud just like the Photon. This does use the data plan however, so it is recommended that you program the device over USB. And yes, you can use your own compiler and IDE!
Particle has always been very particular with their presentation, from tiny packaging details down to the finish on the circuit boards. The result is a stellar product that really stands out, and it goes a long way toward justifying the price point.
Limbic Media recently attended Discover Tectoria , mostly to promote our two upcoming products (Aurora and Social Wearables) but we brought this little demo board along to help illustrate how addressable LEDs look and work under the hood. The Particle firmware makes it very easy to migrate code between devices - the Electron still uses
Particle.publish() in the same way - so if you have a Photon project (Wifi) that you want to use on the road, all you have to do is flash it on to the Electron.
Particle's recent addition of the Electron is a fantastic step forward, and the quality of the construction and design continues to raise the bar for hobby-level boards and development tools. We're looking forward to playing with this more in the future!
Photography by Rosemary Media