Particle devices are tiny, wifi-connected computers that hobbyists and professional engineers use to prototype and build Internet-connected products. In the course of their own project, Bright/Contrast hired us to make a mobile app that boosts Particle developers everywhere.

Where We Started

As Particle is a relatively new and specialized platform, we relied on Bright/Contrast’s in-house experience and our own experimentation to understand how the real process of working with it. We also looked closely at Particle’s enthusiastic community, learning from their work and discussions, and reached out to Vancouver’s still-growing ranks of hardware developers for their insight.

What We Did

We got our hands dirty with both Particle hardware and their cloud services that provide the bridge between the Internet and the devices themselves. We closely studied the user interfaces that many developers shared from their own projects, finding patterns and friction points in their workflow.

About mid-way through the design and development of the app, we understood enough to begin the branding process. It’s unusual for us to begin branding so late, as brand qualities inform both the design and technical details of our work. But this was an unusual project, and a process must be flexible.

Throughout the project, we consulted extensively on the product’s overall strategy and helped developed a strategy that allowed for earlier release for independent developers, and a near-term roadmap that will serve medium sized to enterprise teams, as well. When ready, we coordinated launch activities, including a PR plan for the first few months of Porter’s availability.

The Results

Porter launched simultaneously for Android and iOS in early October, and immediately received accolades from the Particle team.

The visual brand and user interface puts an approachable but still-professional face on a development tool. Early adopters have found the app amazingly easy and quick to start using: once installed, it takes a Particle developer under two minutes to access their devices and create a customizable user interface for their project.

With Porter, engineers doing professional or serious hobby work with Particle devices will save days of work creating and updating their UI code. Moreover, they’ll be able to check in on and control their projects from anywhere. It’s a big leap and a big relief for developers working on this emerging platform, letting them move more freely and quickly as they build the products we’ll find in our homes tomorrow.

The Porter website

Porter for Android

Porter for iOS

Services Used

Collaborators

Technology

Project Snapshots

Before and After on the PuSh Homepage

Our first studio Particle device. This little guy thinks he's a water pump,
because that's the software running on it.
Note the dime for size comparison.

Main stage events

Porter automatically builds a raw interface for all functions and variables.

The responsive lineup on desktop, tablet and smartphone

Function inputs can be turned into lists and buttons.
Here we're setting up values for a drop-down list.

The responsive lineup on desktop, tablet and smartphone

A handful of themes let developers give different devices their own look.

The responsive lineup on desktop, tablet and smartphone

A custom interface in action, without a single line of UI code.

We can do this for you

Working on Porter dropped us knees-deep into the world of Internet-connected devices. While daunting, we got excited and were able to quickly produce design concepts and code that real hardware developers wanted today.

With the right process and a team that meets challenges head on, great new things are possible. Even if your idea is still baking, we can help see it through to launch and beyond.

Say hello@denimandsteel.com