The Photon is a small, cheap, WiFi enabled Internet of Things board. We've been playing with it recently, and it's really awesome - here's why.
1.Getting Connected Is Super-Easy
The Photon connects to the internet via WiFi, so before using, you'll need to enter your router's WiFi credentials. Thankfully, there's an App (for IoS and Android) that makes doing this a breeze.
It took us roughly 5 minutes to download the app and commission the device. Once commissioned you don't need to worry about mucking with your router's settings - the Photon can talk directly to the internet.
2.You Can Program Your Device From Anywhere
With old style 'unconnected' devices, you usually send code updates from your computer to the device via a USB cable. Because the Photon is always connected to the internet, it can be programmed from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Hell, you can even sit on an aircraft WiFi and update the code on your Photon(s) from 35,000 feet! Programming is done via a web based IDE and all of your code is stored on it.
3.Know Arduino, Know Photon
The Photon programming language is the same language you use to program the Arduino. Same libraries, same structures, same commands. This makes it super easy to switch from one platform to the other. You can be writing your first program within minutes of setting up your Photon.
4.Small and Cheap
The Photon measures about 15mm by 25mm and weighs a few grams. It costs about $19. You want if for less? Okay - the actual Photon chip which does all of the clever stuff and carries the WiFi transceiver costs about $10. Add on a few parts and you have a kick-ass IoT device. This kind of cost means these dudes will start to show up in all sorts of stuff.
The Photon is usually powered through a USB cable connected to your computer, although it can easily be powered via a battery instead. If you do have a USB cable connected, you can ask the Photon to send debug messages to your computer, and view them using a simple terminal program.
6.Tinker With It
The Photon IDE and even the App allows you to flash some code called 'Tinker'. The Tinker App lets you turn inputs on and off, read voltages and so on. Perfect for testing and getting to grips with the device.
So you love the Photon and have written a life changing app for it? Chances are, you'll need more devices. Thankfully the Photon app allows you to register large numbers of devices under one account.
From the App you can reflash the firmware, add new devices and even pass your devices on to different people.
Here at Cool Components, we've seen a good number of supposedly amazing IoT devices. The Photon is the best yet. It's cheap, easy to use, and fun. We think it's going to do well. Get it here.