Leah Hunter

A journalist who covers the human side of emerging tech, Leah co-created the Design of Wearables series for California College of the Arts. She guest lectures at NYU, The University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, and UC Berkeley. She shows up on stages around the world — usually in boots.

The smartest way to program smart things: Node.js

The reasons to use Node.js for hardware are simple: it’s standardized, event driven, and has very high productivity.


Node.js is on the rise for programming hardware. The full Google V8 version helps run Intel’s Edison chip. The IoT community has already embraced Node.js for embedded devices and robotics, with notable examples including Nodebots and Cylon. And now, even smaller devices like Tessel 2 — a development platform for prototyping hardware — are using JavaScript.

Why is this a big deal? It makes programming hardware much simpler — college students can learn Node.js in a weekend. And it makes it possible to build and program an entire IoT device, from start to finish, in less than four hours. This may very well be the future of hardware programming.

Intel principal engineer Michael McCool will be at O’Reilly’s Solid Conference, June 23-25, 2015, to lead a workshop on using Node.js and HTML5 to program the Internet of Things. “In only three and a half hours, we’re going to walk people through building a complete and sophisticated IoT system,” McCool told me in an interview. That includes building a hardware prototype, hardware interfacing, streaming telemetry, building a UI on the phone, and creating an app. “The Web server part is just five lines of code. The rest of it is similarly simple,” he said. “The complete code is only about 200 lines on the embedded device, plus a little bit more…when you add in graphs of things for streaming data.” Read more…