Microsoft debuts software for homebrew gadget builds

Microsoft's .NET Gadgeteer provides a development platform for home electronic projects

Hardware hackers building their own gadgets may want to take a look at a new offering from Microsoft that promises to save time in prototyping new devices: a software development platform for home-built gadgets, called .Net Gadgeteer.

".Net Gadgeteer utilizes the .Net Micro Framework to make writing code for your device as easy as writing a desktop, Web or Windows Phone application," Microsoft's newly launched Web site for the software explained.

Microsoft envisions the initial audience for .Net Gadgeteer to be educators, hobbyists and inventors. Hardware designers could also use the tool to rapidly build prototypes as well.

Gadgeteer provides a platform for writing software to control simple home-built electronic devices, made from Gadgeteer-compatible components.

Starting with a mainboard with an embedded processor, developers can assemble a device by adding sensors, displays, cameras, lights, switches, motor controllers and other components. Gadgeteer components will all have the same type of connector, eliminating the need for the soldering.

Developers can then write their code to run their creations in Visual Studio, using C# and the Gadgeteer plug-in software. Through Visual Studio's Intellisense feature, Gadgeteer adds a set of prompts that can help developers complete their code. The resulting control program can then be downloaded to the device by way of a USB connection to the mainboard.

CodePlex hosts the Gadgeteer source and binary code, as well as documentation specifying the hardware interfaces between the mainboard and the components.

Microsoft Research's Sensors and Devices Group developed Gadgeteer. Thus far Microsoft researchers have already built several components using the platform, such as a digital camera and a digital flipbook.

GHI Electronics offers a starter kit of electronic components that is compatible with Gadgeteer, which costs about US$250. Microsoft expects other electronic manufacturers to start vending Gadgeteer compatible components as well.

Microsoft has been a big proponent of low cost networked embedded devices, especially for the enterprise. ""The real value around the devices is their ability to capture the data, analyze that information and drive business efficiencies," said Microsoft Windows Embedded General Manager Kevin Dallas earlier this year.

Microsoft faces some competition in providing software for the home build-it-yourself gadget market however. Arduino has long offered an open source electronics prototyping platform.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Microsoftsoftwarepopular scienceapplication developmentroboticsDevelopment tools

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?