In November 2013 Maya Design launched its Kickstarter campaign for MakerSwarm, an authoring tool for The Internet of Everything. Its goal: raise at least $100,000 to build out MakerSwarm – its components, logic, marketplace, security, user interface, user experience, and SDK (software development kit). It was an ambitious goal for what could be an immensely enabling tool, one that lets users – essentially anyone, even a 10-year-old kid – connect physical and digital devices through visual mapping. Sort of like Microsoft Visio only a whole lot easier to use. In the words of Maya:

While Maya didn’t quite reach its financial goal, it’s not because visually wiring The Internet of Things isn’t a good idea. It may just be an idea ahead of its time. For consumers and for organizations. In its recent Top Ten Strategic Technology Trends for 2014 report, Gartner pointed out that while the Internet of Everything is expanding into enterprise assets and consumer items alike, the problem is that most companies, and technology vendors, have yet to explore the possibilities. Nor are they operationally – or organizationally – ready. One issue, according to a recent GigaOm article: “When you add thousands of devices to a network, it’s going to be impossible to program in the same way we program computers today.” That will change as more options become available, and mature enough, to make it (relatively) easy to program the many thousands of disparate devices connected to a network. Though in one sense connected might be a bit of a misnomer, as some of the tools being built – IBM’s open-source Node-RED and Temboo’s Choreos, for example -- are more about visually programming an outcome than they are about enabling devices to speak to one another. To build Node-RED, Nicholas O’Leary, Dave Conway-Jones, and Andy Stanford-Clark are, the IBM engineers currently developing Node-RED, focused on how devices work together. According to the GigaOm article:

In December, about the Maya’s MakerSwarm Kickstarter program closed, Node-RED 0.5.0 was released. Some new features include Twitter, TCP, and WebSocket node updates, and new nodes for SnapChat and Philips Hue node. Temboo, a New York City startup whose mission is to virtualize code for developers, has built a library of task-specific programming processes that are essentially API links in to other services. The company calls these processes Choreos – short for choreographies – and it has built more than 2,000 of them, enabling connections from Amazon to FedEx to YouTube. Where the Internet of Things comes in is Temboo’s integration with something called Arduino, an open-source electronics prototyping platform that helps users create interactive objects or environments, and the Arduino Yun microcontroller board.

Whether Node-RED and Temboo offer a solution to the wiring of the Internet of Things remains to be seen, as both are early initiatives. But they are, it appears, a step in the right direction.

MakerSwarm is an authoring tool that gives you the ability to make any idea you can imagine. You can unlock the mysteries of your own phones and tablets to build useful, innovative, and even eccentric things, here's a full list of current support features. Think about it—the possibilities are limitless. With MakerSwarm, you simply tap, connect, and build.

Maya Design

“The first version of node-RED was all about [IBM’s messaging protocol] MQTT and how can we move messages between different topics and do it in a really lightweight way,” said O’Leary. But eventually it became more about a way to tell devices what you’d like them to do as opposed to having to tell each of them how to do it added Conway-Jones.

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Renee Ferguson