Kickstarter Project Flutter Proposes M2M Net With Half A Mile Range

Flutter is building a cheap Arduino-based tool for the Internet of Things

A Kickstarter project by a Silicon Valley start-up is on target to create a wireless Arduino-powered network that can transmit data within the range of 3200 feet.

Flutterboard, created by Flutter, is an open source Machine-to-Machine (M2M) development platform based on an ARM chip that enables a “mesh network” protected by 256-bit AES hardware encryption.

The company claims its enthusiast board will be cheaper and easier to use than alternative Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, and offer much higher range than Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

Flutterboard costs just $20 (£12.86) for the Basic model, or $30 (£19.30) for Pro, which features another button, more memory and the ability to charge batteries.

At the moment, the technology only operates in the 915MHz radio band, which is reserved for consumer electronics in North America. However, the boards support other frequencies used throughout the rest of the world, so Flutter components could appear on sale in Europe if the campaign generates enough interest.

Float like a butterfly

According to Quartz, Flutter was created after robotics engineer Taylor Alexander found that  the Zigbee wireless standard would not work for a complicated engineering project. Alexander was forced to design his own wireless network, which eventually became Flutter.

“Whether you want to check the temperature of a beer-brewing setup, have your mailbox send you a text message when the mailman arrives, control a swarm of flying robots, or just turn on your lights with your phone, Flutter gives you the range, power, and flexibility to do it,” states the project description on Kickstarter.

8ad7efefcc82c884aa684afd72ad0f47_largeThe campaign has managed to collect $59,000 out of target $80,000 at the time of publication, with another 24 days of fundraising to go.

Flutter works using a mesh network, which means the range of operation can be extended even further by adding additional Flutterboards at the edges of the coverage. According to the company, the technology was designed to scale from two devices to thousands, with a tagging system to help easily identify each board. The platform is fully compatible with smartphones, and has a dedicated mobile app with a full range of network controls.

Flutter is “not just building circuit boards” – the company wants to create a complete development platform for Internet of Things (IoT) applications, with a range of tutorials for first-time builders. It has already designed a breakout board for simpler board connectivity, as well as network, RC and Bluetooth shields. All technology developed by Flutter will be available under an open source licence – from schematics, board designs and the bill of materials, right down to the firmware and mobile app.

If everything goes according to plan, Flutter will start shipping hardware to early backers in 6 to 8 months.

Earlier this year, experts at the annual Future of Wireless conference in Cambridge warned that the Internet of Things was still missing key standards, with dozens of different network technologies likely to serve as an obstacle to wider adoption.

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