Spotlight on Local Innovation: The Intel Autobots Project

By Rachel Gichinga
iHub Robotics
  Published 30 Jun 2014
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The Intel Galileo board is a microcontroller board based on the Intel Quark SoC X1000 application processor, a 32-bit Intel Pentium brand system on a chip (SoC). It is the first board based on Intel architecture designed to be hardware and software pin-compatible with shields designed for the Arduino Uno* R3. To further spur innovation across the entire computing spectrum, Intel is providing 50,000 Intel Architecture (IA) Arduino boards featuring the new Intel Quark technology to universities worldwide. The new microcontroller boards, in the Arduino form factor favored by the maker community, will enable university students to innovate at the lower end of the spectrum with inventions that will be compatible with other IA devices in the Internet of Things. IMG_1123 (2) Through the Research & Department arm of the iHub, 20 Intel Galileo boards were donated to Kenyan universities last quarter, with bootcamps being run at Kenyatta University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, and the University of Nairobi. According to Wachira Ndaiga of iHub Research, the bootcamps involved the following: “We had a whole day session where we covered all the basics of the Galileo board: what the board is about, how you can use the board, its similarities and differences to other development boards - the idea being to leverage its power. We also covered the basics of electronics. The afternoon was dedicated to just building. So we gave them a smart home system, a bunch of motion detection sensors, temperature and humidity sensors, light detection sensors, and some buzzers and LEDs. We put them in six groups, gave them all the kits - and they starting hacking.” Following the bootcamps, the university groups were given 3-4 weeks to develop an innovative project/product around the Intel Galileo Board. 75 participants from the different universities competed against each other, with the Autobots from JKUAT walking away with the top prize of Asus Fonepads and internships at the iHub R&D department. IMG_1267IMG_0977 (1)IMG_1306 (1)   Since then, the team - which consists of Michael Mumo Mutiso, James Kimani Kinyanjui, Emmanuel Gatimu Kinyanjui, Ian Beche - has been working on some very exciting projects. One of these is the Intel Autobots Project: RFID/NFC technology in Security and Control Systems, which they had an opportunity to showcase at the Intel stand at Pivot East. A brief description of the project:
Inspired to help our nation curb the increasing trend in insecurity and terrorism, we ventured into the world of Radio Frequency Identification systems (R.F.I.D) as well as the emerging technology of Near Field Communication (N.F.C.) systems. Using simple and accessible components such as RFID/NFC cards, a RFID/NFC reader, a servo motor, a piezo buzzer and most importantly, the brain of our system, the intel Galileo development board, we developed a system to show how applicable RFID/NFC technology can be used to monitor movement within our buildings, restrict access to authorized people as well as bar intruders from accessing our premises at all costs. This system also has the ability to monitor the flow of people within a place so that at any given moment in time, the authorities can provide resources within these environs to cater for the needs of the current population hence ensuring better service provision. E.g. if a particular environ has a higher population of people accessing the venue, the authorities should be able to increase the number of security agents to provide sufficient security. Thus, this ensures the optimum utilization of a limited resource’s capability to satisfy a human want or need. In addition to this, we also worked on several other use cases to show how RFID/NFC technology can be used to enhance user experience such as being used as intelligent identification card systems that can replace all the cards in one’s wallet. This one card will then serve as ones identification card, voter’s card, medical cover card, driving license, banking card i.e. an all in one card. Our vision and dream is to see the implementation of these systems in our daily living to boost our ability as human beings to safeguard our environs as well as enhance user experience.
2014-06-24 11.48.04 We’re incredibly excited about what the team has been able to do over such a short period of time, and we’re really looking forward to collaborating further with electronics and hardware enthusiasts through upcoming Internet of Things challenges with Intel. For more information about what Intel East Africa is up to, check out the page here.    
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