Origin of the .NET Gadgeteer Platform

The .NET Gadgeteer platform was created by Steve Hodges and the Sensors and Devices Team at Microsoft Research Cambridge.  Steve was working on SenseCam, a wearable camera that takes photos automatically.  The project took months of research and development, but in the process .NET Gadgeteer was launched.  Devices like SenseCam can now be implemented in hours or even minutes rather than months.

Nic Villars and James Scott collaborated in finding an alternative to the slow process of prototyping new devices with embedded microcontrollers.  Usually this requires electronic circuit design and testing that must be repeated at every stage.  Writing the software involves arcane, low-level code in assembly language or C, without good debugging tools.

.NET Gadgeteer combines an ARM7 microcontroller, programmable hardware modules, and the .NET Micro Framework.  This makes device development feasible for .NET programmers whose expertise is in software rather than electrical engineering.  The project, now managed by Kerry Hammil, is starting a forum for manufacturers and .NET developers interested in .NET Gadgeteer.  Bookmark .NET Gadgeteer and CodePlex for information about the launch.

The following illustration shows modules now available from GHI Electronics, including a camera module, a button to activate it, a display module that shows pictures taken, and an SD Card module to store pictures.  The Fez Spider mainboard, also from GHI Electronics, is powered by the red Dual Power module, named for optional battery power.  The power module is plugged in to the USB port of the development computer for power and to load assemblies built on the core .NET Gadgeteer core libraries.

Gadgeteer Modules and Mainboard

Gadgeteer Modules and Mainboard

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