Internet of Things toolkit SAM gets design overhaul

Startup SAM Labs is working with Map and Pentagram to develop its Internet of Things “building blocks” product.

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Internet of Things toolkit SAM is getting an overhaul from consultancies Map and Pentagram as it launches to consumers.

SAM comprises a series of building blocks and software and is aimed at people with little or no coding knowledge to help them create IoT-connected products.

The building blocks can be either inputs, such as pressure or heat sensors, or outputs, such as lights or motors.

Used to make paint-spraying shoes and smart pillows

The physical blocks link to a software interface, that allows users to connect the different buildings blocks, whether or not they are physically connected.

SAM has been developed by London-based start-up SAM Labs and was originally conceived in 2013. Since then it has been used by groups such as Royal College of Art students, who built responsive shoes that spray paint and smart pillows that detect pressure, and a London College of Fashion team, which created a shirt with a fan and smart-glasses for blind people.

Following a Kickstarter fund-raising campaign, SAM is now shipping to consumers and the SAM team has worked with Map on product and interface design and with Pentagram on new branding – which is set to launch later this year.

Adding “friendliness” to the raw technology

Map developed a new design for the modular building blocks, which now feature wrap-around elastomer bands. The consultancy says: “This makes them both more robust and reliable and adds a slight friendliness to the ‘hacky’ nature of the raw technology.”

The consultancy has also developed a new modular packaging system, which aims to protect and present the individual modules. Each kit also has an accompanying set of printed components, which can be turned onto different cardboard IoT-connected projects.

Map also worked with SAM on the user interface for the software element, with an aim of creating a “user-friendly, fun and engaging experience”. The new software was developed over six months using an agile, sprint-based approach, the design team says.

“Enhancing the product through design”

SAM and Map say they have worked together to “find ways of enhancing the entire user experience of the product through design”.

Map Director Jon Marshall says: “SAM’s simple, friendly and coherent user experience evolved through a deeply collaborative design process between SAM Labs and Map.

“We hope our attention to detail across the whole SAM ecosystem has delivered a product that will inspire the next generation of thinkers and creators as well as allow professionals to quickly develop and prototype their ideas.”

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