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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.
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.Read more ›
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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.Read more ›
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.
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