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Making Things Talk: Practical Methods for Connecting Physical Objects [Paperback]

Tom Igoe
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Making Things Talk: Using Sensors, Networks, and Arduino to see, hear, and feel your world Making Things Talk: Using Sensors, Networks, and Arduino to see, hear, and feel your world
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Book Description

Oct. 8 2007 0596510519 978-0596510510 1

Building electronic projects that interact with the physical world is good fun. But when devices that you've built start to talk to each other, things really start to get interesting. Through a series of simple projects, you'll learn how to get your creations to communicate with one another by forming networks of smart devices that carry on conversations with you and your environment. Whether you need to plug some sensors in your home to the Internet or create a device that can interact wirelessly with other creations, Making Things Talk explains exactly what you need.

This book is perfect for people with little technical training but a lot of interest. Maybe you're a science teacher who wants to show students how to monitor weather conditions at several locations at once, or a sculptor who wants to stage a room of choreographed mechanical sculptures. Making Things Talk demonstrates that once you figure out how objects communicate -- whether they're microcontroller-powered devices, email programs, or networked databases -- you can get them to interact.

Each chapter in contains instructions on how to build working projects that help you do just that. You will:

  • Make your pet's bed send you email
  • Make your own seesaw game controller that communicates over the Internet
  • Learn how to use ZigBee and Bluetooth radios to transmit sensor data wirelessly
  • Set up communication between microcontrollers, personal computers, and web servers using three easy-to-program, open source environments: Arduino/Wiring, Processing, and PHP.
  • Write programs to send data across the Internet based on physical activity in your home, office, or backyard
  • And much more
With a little electronics know-how, basic (not necessarily in BASIC) programming skills, a couple of inexpensive microcontroller kits and some network modules to make them communicate using Ethernet, ZigBee, and Bluetooth, you can get started on these projects right away. With Making Things Talk, the possibilities are practically endless.


Product Details


Product Description

Book Description

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.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Explores the interesting things we can do when we add digital communications and processing to physical objects. Comes from a playful and enjoyable direction. Provides inspiration through exploring projects by some talented people as well as providing practical, easy to follow directions for building your own projects.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best and the worst, mostly the best May 16 2009
Format:Paperback
For me this book was amazing. I am a electronics hobbyist with a very good understanding of circuits and sensors but I am a complete noob when it comes to any networking protocols. This book gave me the bare minimum to start working on projects and was very very vague on specifics. This lead to me having to spend days on simple projects ( like using putty and command line operations) BUT at the same time I learned a tonne doing so. More so then if I simply cut and pasted code and everything worked right in the first place. So this book was the best because learned so much trying to get the projects to work but the worst because it hardly gives any details on how to achieve the end results. In addition I am a PC and Pic microcontroller user and this book is written mostly for other platforms.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good arduino resource April 30 2009
Format:Paperback
If you are interested at beginning with the arduino I would recommend this book. It is a great first step for arduino users.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book of projects involving communications and networking Jan. 29 2008
By calvinnme - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
When I first heard about this book, I assumed it was about projects for speech synthesis. When I read the details on the publisher's site I was somewhat disappointed - talking meant communications in this case. However, I ordered it anyway and was quite delighted by the results. The book is well illustrated, well written, and contains 26 very interesting projects. If you are teaching networking to high schoolers or even to college students, these projects might make interesting case studies to drive home some of the points being studied.

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
9. Identification
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
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bridging the gap from "virtually" to "physically"... Oct. 30 2007
By Thomas Duff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I don't think I've ever seen a book on "networking" devices be quite this much fun (as well as practical and hands-on)... Making Things Talk: Practical Methods for Connecting Physical Objects by Tom Igoe. Once you're done with this book, you'll know more about communication protocols and networking than you thought possible, and you'll know it well. And Spanky will be able to play pong, too...

Contents:
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.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, fun, fun Nov. 1 2007
By ueberhund - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is awesome. It goes with the attitude that everything with a circuit is a tiny computer, so therefore, you should be able to program it. The author then proceeds to show how you can talk various items from around your house--combined with the right circuitry--turn into entirely new creations.

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.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Idea Book On Networking Microcontrollers Nov. 24 2008
By Ira Laefsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This idea book and collection of projects on networking microcontrollers with sensors, infrared and radio links, as well as communicating from these sensors and controllers over the Internet, is written by one of the pioneers of physical computing, Tom Igoe. He also teaches at NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program and is a member of the Open Source Hardware--Arduino team. While these projects begin as simply as blinking an LED via the Arduino's port, they proceed through use of sophisticated sensors and actuators involving GPS, RFID, and wireless communications like the Zigbee radio modules. Because these projects involve programming environments (such as Arduino/Wiring, Processing and PHP), physical interaction and interfacing on wireless protoboards and with toys and sensors, and client-server network protocols; it is somewhat unrealistic to assume that a beginning hobbyist without any background in programming, electronics construction or networking could sucessfully implement these designs and others based on their examples without some prior experience. Fortunately, other books such Tom's Physical Computing: Sensing and Controlling the Physical World with Computers, co-authored with Dan O'Sullivan and Massimo Banzi's Getting Started with Arduino (Make: Projects) (also published by O'Reilly) amply provide that background. This book is excellent fun and full of ideas on making physical sensors and actuators talk over a variety of networks (direct cable connections), Zigbee and Bluetooth Radio, and with Ethernet/Internet Applications. The applications are as practical as reading GPS and RFID sensors in real-world applications, and as whimsical as interfacing a toy monkey and your cat's litter box. This book shows whats possible with networked microcontrollers, explains the steps in interfacing with hardware and software in clear English, but implementation of further designs based upon these examples does require some background.

--Ira Laefsky
50 of 64 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for beginners Nov. 19 2007
By cyenobite - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I bought this book in the hopes that I can learn some new and cool projects from the folks who bring us MAKE magazine (which is awesome!). I read the editorial review, and this line - "This book is perfect for people with little technical training but a lot of interest." is what made me purchase the book.
I think that's a very misleading statement. This book is not for beginners. As early as page 25 it starts to get into programing code. Things like PHP, HTML, command line, serial communications, etc... ALL of the projects in the book require working knowledge of micro-controllers.
I'm keeping the book in the hopes that someday I'll learn this stuff, but I'm disappointed that 90% of the book is above my skill level.
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