Many pundits expect that the Internet of Things will lead to a future where all of our devices talk to each other, and some will likely be using Spark Lab's latest development board.
Spark Labs has been working to simplify the process of making connected devices for a while now. It's released the Core development board and then the Photon, both of which used Wifi, and now Spark has taken things to the next level. Earlier this week Spark launched a campaign to fund the Electron, the company’s first cellular-connected development board.
The Electron is designed to add cellular connectivity to just about any device with a circuit board. Want to enable your trash can to tell you when it's been emptied? You'd need a battery, sensor, and another development board, but it could be done.
About the size of a couple postage stamps, the Electron packs in an ARM CPU, 128KB RAM, 1MB flash, a USB port, and, of course, a 2G modem with requisite SIM card slot. It's up for pre-order on, starting at $39 (it was $29 for the early adopters). And for $20 more, you can get a unit with a 3G modem.
The Electron will come with a $3 a month data plan in the US which will get you a whopping 1MB per month and can be cancelled at any time. This flexibility stems from Spark acting as its own MVNO for the Electron. It's cut deals with US telecoms for bandwidth (it's currently working on international plans), which it resells to Electron owners.
A megabyte of data isn't much in 2015, but Spark estimates that you could send about 20,000 text messages per month without exceeding the data cap, and if you do you can buy more data at $1 per MB.
Spark has blown past its funding goal of $30,000 by a factor of 4, so this device is going to be built. To find out more, or to check out Spark's other development boards, visit the Spark website.