Connecting iOS to the Real World with Arduino

Open Hardware
Location: Portland 251
Average rating: ****.
(4.33, 9 ratings)

Modern smart phone platforms, like Apple’s iPhone, come with a growing range of sensors; GPS, accelerometers, magnetometers and more recently gyroscopes. They also have a (near-)ubiquitous data connection, whether via a local wireless hotspot or via carrier data, and user positioning via multiple methods including GPS.

They would make an excellent hub for a distributed sensor network. However it is actually quite difficult to interface these otherwise interesting devices using standard serial devices. In the case of the iPhone the proprietary dock connector is a major stumbling block. During this session we will present several different methods which will allow you to connect any iOS device to an Ardunio, or in some case directly to an XBee mesh-network.

We will first discuss the official route, using the MFI approved Redpark serial cable, this makes use of Apple’s own External Accessory Framework. Whilst the most expensive route, it is also the simplest. However in addition to this we will go on to discuss using the headset interface to enable communication with external serial devices, this is a fairly well trodden route with several well known examples such as the Square credit card reader. Finally we will look at more off-the-wall routes such as repurposing the official MIDI interfaces, as well as the ANT+ protocol.

Photo of Alasdair Allan

Alasdair Allan

Babilim Light Industries

Alasdair Allan is a director at Babilim Light Industries and a scientist, author, hacker, maker, and journalist. An expert on the internet of things and sensor systems, he’s famous for hacking hotel radios, deploying mesh networked sensors through the Moscone Center during Google I/O, and for being behind one of the first big mobile privacy scandals when, back in 2011, he revealed that Apple’s iPhone was tracking user location constantly. He’s written eight books and writes regularly for, Hackaday, and other outlets. A former astronomer, he also built a peer-to-peer autonomous telescope network that detected what was, at the time, the most distant object ever discovered.

Photo of Brian Jepson

Brian Jepson

O'Reilly Media, Inc.

Brian Jepson is an editor for O’Reilly Media; he covers a number of areas, including Arduino, wireless sensor networks, mobile devices, as well as some Microsoft and Apple topics.

He likes to hack on gadgets such as Arduino and the Netduino in his spare time, and he is also the co-founder and co-host of Providence Geeks, a monthly gathering in Providence, RI.

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Jason Phillips
08/16/2011 10:13am PDT

Would have really liked to attend this but couldn’t because of another session at same time