Making Things Talk: Practical Methods for Connecting Physical Objects Paperback – Oct 8 2007
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Physical Computing with Sensors, Networks, and Arduino
About the Author
Tom Igoe teaches courses in physical computing and networking, exploring ways to allow digital technologies to sense and respond to a wider range of human physical expression. Coming from a background in theatre, his work centers on physical interaction related to live performance and public space. Along with Dan O'Sullivan, he co-authored the book "Physical Computing: Sensing and Controlling the Physical World with Computers," which has been adopted by numerous digital art and design programs around the world. Projects include a series of networked banquet table centerpieces and musical instruments; an email clock; and a series of interactive dioramas, created in collaboration with M.R. Petit. He has consulted for The American Museum of the Moving Image, EAR Studio, Diller + Scofidio Architects, Eos Orchestra, and others. He hopes someday to work with monkeys, as well.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
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There is one thing I would caution you on though. Don't expect the lead-you-by-the-hand electronics-heavy methodology of most other project books. This book - although apparently targeted at electronics hobbyists - goes into painstaking detail on hardware needed and assembly. However, it oddly assumes the reader doesn't need much coaching on the Processing programming language or PHP. Of course, this book would be an unwieldy tome if tutoring on those subjects were included, but just be warned that you'll need some outside sources if you are not already familiar with either of these languages. The following is the list of contents of the book along with the names and locations of the 26 included projects.
1. The Simplest Tools
2. The Simplest Network
Project 1 - Monski Pong
Project 2 - Wireless Monski Pong
Project 3 - Negotiating in Bluetooth
3. A More Complex Network
Project 4 - A Networked Cat
4. Look Ma! No Computer
Project 5 - Hello Internet
Project 6 - Networked Air Quality Meter
5. Communicating in (Near) Real Time
Project 7 - A Networked Game
6. Wireless Communication
Project 8 - Infrared Transmitter-Receiver Pair
Project 9 - Radio Transmitter-Receiver Pair
Project 10 - Duplex Radio Transmission
Project 11 - Bluetooth Receivers
7. The Tools
Project 12 - Reporting Toxic Chemicals in the Shop
Project 13 - Relaying Solar Data Wirelessly
8. How to Locate (Almost) Anything
Project 14 - Infrared Distance Ranger Example
Project 15 - Ultrasonic Distance Ranger Example
Project 16 - Reading Received Signal Strength Using XBee Radios
Project 17 - Reading Received Signal Strength Using Bluetooth Radios
Project 18 - Reading the GPS Serial Protocol
Project 19 - Determining Heading Using a Digital Compass
Project 20 - Using an Accelerometer
Project 21 - Color Recognition Using a Webcam
Project 22 - 2D Barcode Recognition Using a Webcam
Project 23 - Reading RFID Tags in Processing
Project 24 - RFID Meets Home Automation
Project 25 - IP Geocoding
Project 26 - Email from RFID
A. And Another Thing
B. Where to Get Stuff
C. Program Listings
The Tools; The Simplest Network; A More Complex Network; Look Ma! No Computer; Communicating in (Near) Real Time; Wireless Communication; The Tools; How to Locate (Almost) Anything; Identification; And Another Thing; Where to Get Stuff; Program Listings; Index
Making Things Talk does an outstanding job of blending two different approaches. Books on communication and networking are common, but they are often dry as dirt and deal in how things work "virtually". How-to books, like the Make magazines from O'Reilly, show how to build really cool off-beat stuff, but there's only so much background you can get in a single article. Igoe is able to take the best of both those worlds and create a tutorial on how communications and networking protocols work, as well as how to build stuff that takes advantage of it. Through projects such as the networked CatCam, the Toxic Chemical Alarm, and my favorite, Monski Pong (a stuffed pong-playing monkey), you learn hardware, software, programming, protocols, troubleshooting, you name it. You could also make a course from this material, it's that complete.
While you'll do best with a bit of background in hardware and software design skills, he is very clear on what items are needed. Instead of just saying you need to get a certain capacitor, he tells you the part number as listed on a few different sites. Couple that with very clear pictures and detailed code listings, and your chances of success are pretty good. Surprisingly, the detail doesn't come across as handholding, either. It's just solid information, clearly written for someone who is interested in the subject, with fun outcomes along the way from serial wired communications to wireless, bluetooth, RFID, etc...
If you're looking to learn theory with hands-on reality, this is it.
The book begins with the tools of the trade--soldering irons, breadboards, and lots and lots of circuit parts. The author then shows how these simple items can be used to create fun and useful items you can use around the house.
In one of the first projects, the authors show how to create a replacement mouse using one of your favorite stuffed animals. Once you get the basics down, they show how to do the same thing over Bluetooth. Other projects include a network interface so your cat can send email, a wireless RSS component that you can hook up to your TV, a cymbal monkey toxic chemical sensor, and a lot of fun stuff with RFID tags.
The projects in this book are fun to read, easy to follow, fun to build, and a great all around introduction to circuitry and circuit programming. The programs in this book will be easy for anyone with a familiarity with Java or a C-based language.
Finally, the book shows where to get all the stuff you'll need to build these projects. The book lists addresses of hardware manufactures, listing of the software used in the book, and full listings of all the programs used.
This is a great book, and a lot of fun for people who like to get their hands dirty with technology. It's well written, fun to read, and the final projects will impress your family and friends.
With that said the book is really well laid out and the projects are applied enough to be useful and fun enough to keep going. The projects have a good ordering to them. You learn about serial and slowly move up to network modules finally getting to wireless and RFID components. You have fun creating things that play games, clap when triggered by events, or automate the home. While some may call the project not very useful, they are really the building blocks for your imagination with the basic to complex, a very nice addition to the simple tutorials you find online.
One note while the book has some neat projects the price tags can really start to add up. Flex sensor here for $25, XBee module there for another $30 and so forth. I have been able to do a lot with switching out some of the more expensive parts but if you are someone thinking about a course or summer study with this book make sure you get it in advance and do some pricing of the projects.
I give it 5 stars for a great combination of items even though the book requires supplemental knowledge. The simple networking tutorials are great though, a subject that is normally a complete bore.
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