Particle – which used to be called Spark – has released the third generation of their tiny, networked computing boards. Their new product, called Mesh, allows you to connect wither to a Wi-Fi or cellular network but also allows you to create a mesh network between multiple Mesh devices. This lets you create a mesh network similar to popular IoT devices from Nest and Netgear. The system, called Thread, lets you select which network you’d like to use – Wi-Fi, LTE, or even Bluetooth Low Energy – and then offers programming via OpenThread technology.
There are three models, the Argon, the Boron, and the Xenon. The Boron, $29, supports LTE while the Argon, $15, connects to Wi-Fi and the $9 Xenon connects only via Bluetooth.
The Particle Mesh essentially allows you to create large mesh networks of sensors, letting you connect multiple disparate devices together wirelessly in order to collect a wider range of data. You could, for example, connect to a pressure sensor to control gas or water valves or put it on a farm to sense soil moisture.
It is shipping in July and is available for pre-sale now.
“In the five years since we launched our first Wi-Fi and cellular connected hardware, more than 140,000 developers have brought their devices online with Particle,” said Zach Supalla, co-founder, in a release. “From the front lines of bringing IoT to life, our developer community uncovered challenges with building local networks, so we designed Mesh to better connect those spaces in between. We’re excited to see the next wave of real IoT take hold by solving real problems with connected products.”
Want to bring Alexa into your vehicle? You now have a few options, including a new $49.99 accessory from voice tech company Speak Music, which is launching Muse, essentially a Bluetooth-enabled Amazon Echo for the car. The small device allows you to access Alexa skills while on the go, using voice commands and the “Alexa” wake word, while connecting to your in-car stereo system via Bluetooth, aux input or USB.
Muse uses your smartphone’s data connection to connect to the Alexa service, which in turn provides you the ability to stream music, listen to live streaming radio stations, command your smart home gadgets while you’re away or even make hands-free calls. You can also get news briefings, listen to audiobooks, add to your shopping list, check the weather and more.
The Muse ships with a dual socket car USB charger for power, and a magnetic mounting kit. It’s a small, circular gadget which should be relatively easy to stick somewhere on your dash, and it has back and forward buttons as well as a microphone button for physical activation (though it passively listens for the Alexa wake word, too).
There are other methods for getting Amazon’s voice assistant in your car, including first-party support from some manufacturers, but also via accessories like the Garmin Speak with Alexa, which became available just last month. The Speak also has full access to Amazon’s skill library, but builds in Garmin voice-based turn-by-turn navigation and a small, simple OLED screen too for $150, too. You could also plug an Echo Dot into power and connect it to your Smartphone via hotspot.
Muse is the same price as an Echo Dot, however, and offers all the same Alexa functionality, with a form factor and features designed for the car. It seems like the best and most affordable way to bring Alexa into your vehicle at the moment, but we’ll see how well it performs in the real world when it ships starting in December. Those interested can pre-order now for pre-Holiday shipping.