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First look at Bug Labs’ modular system

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Robert Scoble has been talking to Bug Labs about their series of “BUG” modules that will be available soon. Potential hackers of mobile tech could really do with a low entry-level prototyping environment and these could be exactly that. The main module (BUGbase) is a small ARM-based Linux machine with on-board WiFi, USB, SPI, I2C and 4 UARTs, and running a full Java implementation (not J2ME).

Interestingly all the add-on modules and sensors can be accessed via a RESTful API (in other words, via URLs as if they were websites), so you can do your system integration at the same level as Web2.0 style mashups. They have an SDK that’s based on Java and includes service-oriented components for each module. But since it’s Linux you can do low-level coding as well if you want to.

The hardware is also open source so you can download the designs and modify or build your own. The idea is that a community builds up around the system, and then proposals for new modules can be voted on. Or just go and make your own.

What I like about this system is that it seems to be pitched at just the right level — somewhere between Gumstix hackers and Lego Mindstorms NXT. Pricing could be an issue, however.

Scoble’s videos were shot on a Nokia N95 cellphone – which in itself shows how far mobile tech has come in the last few years.

Part 1: Peter Semmelhack and Jeremy Toeman from Bug Labs give an introduction to the tech (around 17 mins)

Part 2: Hackability (6 mins)

Part 3: hackability continued (2 mins)

(Thanks to Dave Mellis for putting me on the Bug Labs trail…)

[...] First look at Bug Labs’ modular system [...]

Great find, great post. Its great taht this is happening and that it is happening so quick. The whole mobile industry is a bit of a dinosaur and it needs to start getting a little more nimble. I hope the big players are watching all this stuff with interest.