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Node is continually being used in new and exciting ways in everything from microservices to computationally-heavy operations. One example of that is how Node is being leveraged to control microcontrollers to build everything from simple mechanical systems to very complex robotic systems and even wearable technology.
The Ins and Outs of Microcontrollers
Microcontrollers are an important piece of the puzzle in the discussion of Nodebots, thus a brief discussion of what they are and the different kinds there are is warranted.
Quite simply, microcontrollers are small programmable computers that accept various components and can be controlled through the use of Node. Several different microcontrollers are available commercially, such as the Raspberry Pi, Particleboards, Spark Core, and the more common - Arduino boards. Each of these boards can be used however, Arduino is the most utilized microcontroller and works right out of the box with the Nodebot libraries. One reason why they are the most utilized is that Arduino is open source, and there are numerous starter kits available which include an array of components that can be connected and controlled by the board. Because of this, it makes rapid prototyping with an Arduino-based system easy and affordable. Although the kits and commercial components are convenient, they can have limitations in their ability to be used in more advanced applications or more complex problems. However, because Arduino is open source, we have the ability to build our own boards to solve these more complex problems.
So what is a Nodebot exactly?
A Nodebot is literally any type of robotic system that is controlled via Node. These systems can range from a small blinking LED to a complex battle bot or quad-copter. A Nodebot can contain motors, cameras, wheels, arms and legs, displays, and various detectors, as well as many other components. Because the microcontroller can accept this vast array of different components, the sky really is the limit on what can be built leveraging Node with the different microcontrollers and components.
The Johnny-Five Framework
Using Johnny-Five and Node to build complex robotic systems is an interesting and fun concept, however there is so much more potential to build systems that go beyond simple robotics. At Dialexa, we’re exploring the use of Nodebots for developing new types of sensors that will monitor and collect data in new ways, including health data via wearables, soil and weather conditions to help automate agriculture, voice activated technology to enable human and computer interactions and automate processes in the home, as well as connect and develop new IoT technologies. In reality, the only limitations on what can be built are the imagination of the developer and the components that can be bought or designed.
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