A few weeks ago I came across a blog post by Cati Vaucelle about Making Things Talk, the new book by Tom Igoe. The book deals with building smart, communicating things. It is built up out of specific projects and uses practical examples to explain different technologies. Tom works at NYU ITC (where Adam Greenfield also works).
Through a series of simple projects, this book teaches you 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.
The book seemed really useful to me to learn how to build smart things and prototype a ubicomp environment. Unfortunately I was never really exposed to electronics, so this might be a good way to catch up I pointed Kris at the book who ordered a copy afterwards. I had a quick look at it, and I must say it is well-written and fun to read. You need some hardware to really dive in though.
The author uses Processing and Arduino as the basic building blocks. I was pleasantly surprised that the programming environment works perfectly under Mac OS X and GNU/Linux (while it also supports Windows). I would also like to experiment with it at home, for instance to build a remote-controlled mood light Apparently a Wii Nunchuk is also pretty popular for connecting to Arduino as it sports a 3-axis accelerometer, joystick and two buttons for under 20$ and uses the I2C protocol.
This is a quick update on my previous post about the STRP festival. Apparently, the technology expo continued at night, so I was able to see some of the demonstrations anyway. I wanted to share a few of them just to give an impression.
There were a set of large screens mounted in the expo that displayed a video of a woman’s face together with a power meter. When the lady smiles (no pun intended) , the power bar is green and filled to the top. When she stops smiling, it drops to the bottom and turns red. It took me a while to get the meaning of this power meter since the women only stop smiling once in a while There is a video available that gives some more details.
I also had the chance to experiment with the i_AM table which was not very impressive in my opinion. Although it was definitely more simple than the reactables table, as a consequence it did not offer much functionality. Each object that was placed on the table was linked to a sample (e.g. a guitar loop) with a certain volume depending on its position on the table. When an object was pushed up or down on the table, its volume changed from loud to quiet. When it was moved to the left or to the right, it would become linked to another sample. When you turned an object, the portion of the sample that was repeated could be altered. I did not find the mappings logical, but then again the problem with these kinds of systems is that there has to be a way for the user to find out about the object’s affordances. This can be done by using objects that represent their affordances explicitly, or by displaying something helpful next to the objects. The i_AM table did not offer a way to find out about an object’s functionality.
I only took a few pictures, and most of them were blurry due to the low quality camera on my cellphone but there are quite some pictures of the festival available at Flickr, including the demo of Johannes (it seems his demo was also covered by DJ BROADCAST and Eindhovens Dagblad). Another cool concept was Vinyl workout where a record was projected on the floor and could be played by running around its surface in the direction you wanted it to go. Motor karaoke was a demo I didn’t visit, but which would have been fun to try. It is a bike race where the motorcycle is powered by the player’s voice. The louder the player screams, the faster the bike will go
Oh and the concerts were good as well
On Monday I got the notification that our submission for WoSSIoT’07 was accepted. This means I have to travel to Lisbon and Salamanca (for EIS 2007) in the same week
The paper is titled Tangible Mashups: Exploiting Links between the Physical and Virtual World. More details on my publications page.