Internet of Things Prototyping with Firebase

This talk is about my favorite recipe for hacking together small IoT projects. It’s the starting point for a lot of the silly Internet-connected artwork I’ve made, like the Catalyst Portal at Ingress Magnus Reawakens.

It involves running Firmata on an Arduino Uno, Johnny-Five on a connected Raspberry Pi, and the Firebase Realtime Database to bring it all together. My first cut usually involves a lot of cardboard and zip ties.


Everyone seems to be talking about the Internet of Things. From houseplants to ice machines, from fitness bracelets to fish tanks: It’s all fair game.

This is a whole new world of computing. It’s a lot of fun, but it also brings new challenges for us software developers. Early validation of your idea is critical. You need to be confident that your plan is going to work before you order 1000 printed circuit boards.

In this talk Jen will show you how node.js, Firebase, and development boards come together in NodeBots to make your IoT project real. This talk will include live electronics hacking, and live coding.

Key takeaways:

  • An easy-to-use recipe for building 1 of something: an IoT prototype
  • Cool things you can do with that Raspberry Pi that’s gathering dust on your shelf
  • How to use your existing JavaScript skills to get things moving, literally


Slides based on reveal.js

Source code

The source code lives on GitHub.


Some of the details around initializing Firebase have changed since this video was recorded in early 2016, but the rest is unchanged.


There’s also a workshop version of this talk.