The Making of MassROUTE, Part I: Inception

August 5th, 2013 by Todd Anderson

Arduino + Bi-Color LEDs

Prior to moving to our beautiful new office here at Infrared5, we were located just off Centre Street in Jamaica Plain. The location was not only convenient for delicious food choices, but also for being located along the MBTA 39 Bus Route.

I prefer to ride my bike into work, but if for some reason that is not possible, I take public transportation. One reason that would prevent me from riding my bike is weather. If you are familiar with winters here in Boston it’s not particularly fun to stand outside in freezing wind and snow waiting for a bus that – let’s face it – doesn’t run on a schedule. In fact, we have a little pet name for the buses that run around here: we call them ‘Banana Buses’ because they come in bunches, leap frogging down Centre in sets of 3.

MBTA scheduling concerns aside, we are fortunate enough to be provided with real-time data from Massachusetts Department of Transportation which, I must say, is quite accurate.

We had been playing around with the real-time bus data for a bit, making various apps and even just using the service as a jumping off point for learning more about a language or library through data integration. Due to a recent fascination with microcontrollers and circuitry, I thought it was about time we have some physical indicator within the office that would notify us of the next approaching bus so we didn’t have to keep checking one of the several apps we built. As such, a project we call MassROUTE was born.

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