eBlocks : Embedded Systems Building Blocks
University of California, Riverside
Department of Computer Science
Riverside, CA 92521
Is it possible to build simple monitor/control embedded systems in just minutes?
Monitors a hallway at night for motion. Possible applications include:
  • Detecting if a child is sleepwalking
  • Detecting if patients in a nursing home/hospital are out of bed at night.
Wirelessly sounds a beeper when a button is pressed. Possible applications include:
  • Mobile doorbell when instructor is out of their office during office hours
  • Attendant caller, when a patient is in need of assistance
The goal of the eBlocks project is to empower regular people, having no programming or electronics experience, to build basic useful electronic systems around the home, office, store, etc. To achieve this goal we are creating a set of embedded system building blocks - eBlocks - that are easily connect together to build a huge variety of basic but useful monitor/controller systems. The key to our approach is to add compute intelligence to components that previously had none - to sensors, switches, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), speakers, etc. Adding compute intelligence to those items was previously cost and power prohibitive, but extremely small, cheap and low power processing devices now make such addition possible. Ideally, people could simply connect such eBlocks together to build basic systems.

Users simply snap together a variety of eBlocks such as buttons, light sensors, beepers, and others (for a list see the catalog). The manner in which the blocks are connected specifies the systems functionality. The system is now ready to use!


We also have an eBlock simulator which models many of the eBlock prototypes. Users can then build and test before ever having to use physical blocks. For advanced users we also have the option of a partitioning tool which simplifies eBlock systems into a system of smaller blocks accomplishing the equivalent functionality but utilizes programmable eBlocks. The partitioner automatically generates the corresponding code.

This work is supported in part by the National Science Foundation under grant CCR-0311026. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

eBlock Catalog
›   Yes/No eBlocks
›   Number eBlocks
Sample eBlock Systems
›  Yes/No eBlocks
›  Number eBlocks
Other Links
›   Related Projects

›   Middle School
›   PIC Tools
›   Articles
›   Internal Documents

Last Update: November 2004