Inside IoT - October 16th, 2019

Inside IoT (Oct 16th, 2019)

10 ways to incorporate IoT into your Halloween festivities


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Hello all, 

As promised, today we have a special edition of Inside IoT featuring all sorts of ways to add connected devices into your spooky Halloween plans. 

If you’re doing some serious decorating or pulling out all the tech stops to scare trick-or-treaters, send me an email at Holly@inside.com. 

Enjoy! 


1. Web designer and Halloween enthusiast Jason Mitchell shows us how to set up a spooky Halloween scene using a Ring Video Doorbell 2, a Ring Chime and the Philips Hue lighting system. He walks viewers through the setup, including linking all of the needed devices. When he’s done, his doorbell triggers a scream, and creepy music from his smart speaker is synced with his color-changing lightbulbs... it’s pretty freaky. As he notes, "Halloween is by far one of my most favorite holidays, and every year while setting up the decorations, I start planning for the next one." — JASON R MITCHELL


2. Trick-or-treating is getting a taste of IoT after Scott Jochim created an app-controlled, LED backpack to keep kids safe on Halloween. Jochim, a Phoenix dad, got the idea while he was trick-or-treating with his kids last year and noticed how often they crossed unlit streets. The backpack has a screen on the front and users can display any image on it, particularly one that complements their costume, using the app. The battery-operated backpack lasts for eight hours, and can charge a phone while carrying all the candy. — KSAZ-TV


3. DZone compiled a collection of IoT hacks including a spooky 3D-printed pumpkin lamp that sings, a lazer maze, an Amazon Echo ghost, and a way to send messages from the Upside Down. The most-impressive item on the list — and by far, the most dangerous — is a fire-breathing pumpkin. This trick combines an old duo, a candle and hairspray, with a Particle Photon and Device Cloud and uses the cloud to automate all of it, so you end up with a pretty hefty flame shooting out of the pumpkin’s mouth. — DZONE


4. The Chicago Tribune explains how to ramp up your scare tactics using smart devices, whether for trick-or-treaters, a Halloween party, or general October decor. A smart doorbell can serve as a motion detector to trigger indoor lights or other devices, so when someone walks up to your door, your lights flicker or music plays. Smart plugs will allow you to control just about anything via an app or voice assistant. Indoor and outdoor smart lights will provide the ambience you’re looking for, while Bluetooth speakers will allow you to add sound outside, or anywhere within range. — CHICAGO TRIBUNE


5. Google Assistant has Halloween-related actions that became available this month. After prompting your Google Assistant (with "Hey, Google," or "OK, Google"), saying "Halloween costume quiz” will launch a Q&A-style quiz to determine the best outfit and, saying, "Halloween costume picker” will launch a similar-style quiz with different questions. Ask Google to tell you a scary story and you’ll get a kid-friendly fright or ask, “How many days until Halloween?” for a countdown. But, if you really want a bit of a fright (or pull the ultimate prank), and your entire place is connected via Google, prompt your device with, "Let’s get spooky.” If the ghost emoji 👻 (or three of them) appear on your app, it worked. Turn up the volume on your speakers... and wait. — SLASH GEAR


6. The Gadget Flow put together a list of the best Halloween gadgets, including decor and costumes of the year. While many of the options aren’t connected devices, there’s a few impressive gems in there. For starters, there’s a motion-activated glowing, hanging grim reaper that laughs and its eyes light up when you approach it. There’s also a really, really creepy zombie bride that’s voice-activated. Finally, check out the mechanical spider Bluetooth speaker, which moves on its eight legs or completely detaches itself to be a simple speaker. — THE GADGET FLOW


7. Doctor Noob offers a step-by-step tutorial for creating a carved pumpkin with animated eyes. He uses an old iPhone with a googly-eyes app to create the look, which is really simple but looks cool in the end. He also walks viewers through using solar power to light a carved pumpkin. For more videos, Doctor Noob’s channel has more than 8,000 subscribers and several how-to videos, including a recent one that is a holographic pumpkin. — DOCTORNOOB / YOUTUBE


8. This list wouldn’t be complete if it weren’t for some IoT costume ideas. After scouring the internet and seeing loads of app-related outfits, I found a round-up of truly impressive, tech-based costumes on Instructables. Each costume has a set of instructions — each made by a different contributor — and some of these are so intricate, you may have to start planning for next year. There’s the Daft Punk helmet with programmable LED lights, a fiber optic dress, and an interactive LED lab coat, among many others. — INSTRUCTABLES


9. The smart doorbell seems to be a win among Halloween-related IoT, especially if you’re expecting trick-or-treaters. Gone are the days of sitting by the front door, waiting to see who rings the bell. Ring has updated their festive chime tones — including “The Addams Family” theme song — so if you want to add some flair, you can switch it up for the night. You can also get a festive faceplate for your doorbell. Ring is also reminding users to charge their smart doorbells and connect them to smart lights for added safety. — RING


10. This is a set of instructions for a DIY motion-triggered carved pumpkin with LED lights. This one is a little more complicated, made for those of you who really want to knock the socks off the neighborhood carving contest judges. It involves Raspberry Pi, an LED strip, a power module and flash firmware on your computer. The end result is pretty awesome though, with the pumpkin “lid” lifting off when it sense motion. — HACKSTER


Holly A. Phillips has a passion for storytelling and uses her craft to promote brands around the world. She is a Blogging Instructor at the University of Texas at Austin and is always looking for a new adventure. Keep up with her on her blog Thebitterlemon.com or on Twitter at @orangejulius7.

This newsletter is edited by Inside senior editor Bobby Cherry, a Pittsburgh-based journalist who's always on social media. Reach him at bobby@inside.com.


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