Starting a new open IoT project

Update: IoT Lemakers is now moving to in Matrix. [post]

After creating the @iot_lemakers open Keybase team with my friends Daniel Fischer (@dfischer) and Carlos Zaragoza (@salmarken), as a small IoT development community and discussion place, Carlos had the idea of creating a low-energy device for crypto asset trading through a LoRa infrastructure. We posted the idea on the #ideas channel, and Daniel became interested in creating a low-energy LoRa device specifically for texting in places with limited telecom infrastructure, or in case of a world crisis; sending encrypted messages through a decentralized, local and simple LoRa mesh network. He named the project “OPLED”, which stands for Operation Low Energy Device, and we created a private subteam on Keybase for the initial development.

Graphic illustrating a local mesh network

Then, the idea of using an E-Ink display with a stylus instead of a keyboard came out of Daniel’s UX expertise. Since the only purpose of the device would be texting, why not making it a more pleasant and natural experience by doing it through handwriting? Such a brilliant idea! The device will be totally free software/hardware and 3D-printed, because everyone should be able to build their own easily and cheaply; it will be possible to adapt the base project to other use cases as well—such as crypto trading—. Being FOSSW—I don’t know if the term exists. If not, I have invented it!—also means the project development is open to everyone, so we can make it even more amazing! This is our contribution to the world.

But we hadn’t really discussed about the LoRa infrastructure. Daniel’s initial view was making a mesh network of volunteer-operated antennas that are free to setup and use, running our free (as in freedom) dedicated message broker software. Antennas will be connected into a “federated” and open mesh network, that will route messages to their recipient. There’s still a lot more we need to take into account and discuss in order to build the final concept, and start working in the tech stuff.

Communication networks should not be controlled by single and centralized corporations, because the more those corporations take from their users, the more they can use against them to get what they want. A free and decentralized network is controlled by their users, and very difficult to fully control or take down entirely, the bigger the network is.


But we can’t do all this stuff alone, we really need people interested in working with us voluntarily. We’re currently only 3 persons in the project, we need more amazing and talented people to help us, from the initial planning, development and funding of the project, to the subsequent implementation, maintenance and improvement. You can contribute as much as you can, you don’t need to give up your life and you can leave whenever you want. So, anyone interested in being part of this, join @iot_lemakers on Keybase and ask me to add you to the subteam, only if you know you can actually contribute. Let’s make this great together!

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