Microsoft IoT: Solid Conference 2014 Demo
Web-enabled SPL meter
Technology for a new generation of creators
For the 2014 Solid Conference, the IoT team at Microsoft wanted to demonstrate the feasibility and simplicity of creating a DIY web-enabled Windows device that not only worked, but utilized rapid prototyping technology to create an affordable, attractive package. Targeted at the hacker/maker market, the primary constraints were that the device actually do what was being advertised during the demo, in realtime, with components and processes available to anyone in the hacker space. It also had to be accomplished in record time, with the conference approaching in a matter of weeks.
The device that the IoT team chose to create was a simple SPL meter that would capture the audience's response and display the results via graphical software meter online. The intial vision the team had in mind referenced the classic gramophone hand-crank devices. Early concepts expanded on this idea with the modern twist of a "low-poly" aesthetic, abstracting the form with a faceted, geometric look, while retaining the cone to capture sound and the box base to enclose the electronics: a Galileo board, daughter board, and some simple wiring.
These early concepts proved to be both too cumbersome for a live demo, and too expensive for anyone to print on a DIY budget. In order to achieve a stable wall thickness in the cone, the amount of plastic was not only expensive, but surprisingly heavy.
Returning to the drawing board, the team asked for something simpler and organic, that evoked a more "ear-like" aesthetic. Abstracting the idea of a wave to its simplest form, we applied this texture to the cone of the device itself. A simple black-and-white palette was chosen to highlight the experimental, prototype nature of the device and clearly delinate the different exterior parts onstage.
The final concept that was chosen met the form-factor requirments, fit the internals, and was easy to hold up to capture the audience's feedback. Our engineering partner Igor Institute added magnets to allow the device to be quickly snapped together onstage. Photos of the final concept and prototype parts below.
The final presentation, given by the IoT's Director of Program Management Steve Teixeira can be viewed here:

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