The team behind 1Sheeld (Amr Saleh, Eslam Ali and Islam Mustafa) have released a new development board for building blockchain-connected devices in the same fashion as you would using an Arduino. Known as Elk, the board allows you to take your projects and interface them with Swarm, Ethereum, Bitcoin, Whisper, Status IM, and a host of other decentralized technologies.
On the hardware side, Elk packs an Allwinner H3 dual-core 32-bit SoC with 512Mb RAM/4Gb storage) with the OS preloaded. It also sports an STM32F411 32-bit microcontroller, 8Gb of eMMC, a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi module (with embedded antenna), a micro SD card slot, a micro USB port, and breadboard-compatible pins. There are plenty of I/Os (3.3V and 5V tolerant) as well — 28X digital, 10X analog, 2X UART, 3X I2C, 3X SPI, and 21 PWM, along with several buttons and LEDs (power/user-defined/operating system).
According to its makers, Elk will come bundled with an Arduino-like SDK that provides an intuitive interface for those decentralized platforms and will feature a development experience 10X more seamless for creating blockchain-connected devices. The SDK is also plug-and-play, and the team states, “With only a few lines of code, you’ll be able to build blockchain-connected devices to do things you never thought possible.”
Since the SDK is Arduino-based, Elk can be used with most shields and add-on boards, plus allow you to take advantage of all supporting libraries. It’s expected that the SDK will be open source, and additional support will be added for decentralized technologies as they become available.
Potential applications for the Elk include building platforms that enable you to send and accept cryptocurrencies, such as a homebrew ATM or even vending machines, design privatized communications systems, or create IoT devices that let you upload sensor data to Swarm or IPFS.
“What intrigues us about the domains of blockchain and decentralization is how quickly they’re evolving, and likely the use-cases that people will build with Elk and find most valuable won’t be use-cases that come to mind for us today. Past projects we’ve built include an electric socket that can be rented with Ethereum, a treadmill that accepts Bitcoin deposits that you can only get back when you work out, and serverless home automation systems that respects your privacy using the Whisper messaging protocol. The possibilities are truly endless.”
The team is currently crowdfunding the Elk development board on Kickstarter with pledges starting at $59 for the early bird special, which gets you just the board. At the $79 level, Elk throws in a power adapter, micro USB cable, sensors (temp, photoresistor, potentiometers), and a slew of pushbuttons, resistors, and jumper wires, along with a handy breadboard. The higher the pledge, the more goodies are included.