Here’s a rundown of the final projects from my Fundamentals of Physical Computing class at the MFA in Interaction Design at SVA this spring. Keep an eye on these students for more masterful interactive works!
Jordan Husney and I created an electrically-operated scale model garage to demonstrate the XBee-iDigi Garage Door Opener for one of the projects we’ll be featuring at the Digi booth for Bay Area Maker Faire 2012 this weekend. It’s an example of building the “12,000-Mile Universal remote” project from Make Vol. 30. With this project you can push any button in your house from anywhere the world using your mobile phone. The project uses a Digi XBee module in an open-source hardware design with the XBee Internet Gateway (XIG) and the iDigi Device Cloud to work its home-improvement magic.
Thanks to Scott Kilau (Android controller), Margaret McKenna (web application), Joel Young (underwriting) and Joetta Gobell (car artist) for their invaluable contributions to this project. See you at Maker Faire!
Say hello to Troy and Abed! They’re Digi International’s brand-new XBee-enabled SumoBots and they’re ready to begin training for their debut at Bay Area Maker Faire 2012. They’ll be battling it out in the Digi booth May 19th and 20th, so prepare yourself for a wireless robotic sumo showdown! Here’s a first look:
Other favorites include Mud Tub, RapidFTR and Strings. Great to see my fellow ITP alumni and current colleague’s projects getting new lives as teaching tools!
There’s a terrific new article (login required) in New Scientist featuring my friend and colleague Ted Hays. Back in 2009, Ted created an Internet-enabled bubble gun in the Networked Objects class I taught at ITP. His Bubble Gun announces incoming email with a stream of soapy spheres. It’s a whimsical demonstration of how simple devices can join the Internet, transforming data from chilly abstractions into satisfying interactions. Here’s an excerpt:
Hayes represents a growing movement of tinkerers who are merging the online and physical worlds in surprising ways. Instead of waiting for technology companies like Cisco or Apple to make their gadgets, these “makers” are buying off-the-shelf computer chips, sensors and wireless radios, and doing it themselves. They are transforming their possessions – from plant pots and clothing to thermostats or cuddly toys – to become smarter, connected and social.
…where established companies are still struggling to figure out how to connect with consumers, a growing community of amateurs is busy creating thousands of smart devices. And some technology observers believe that all this activity is revealing how to build an Internet of Things that people actually want to use.
The article, by MacGregor Campbell, also covers independent connected projects like Twine and Arduino. These, combined with radios like the XBee, promise to bring the power of device networking to a broader audience.
Here’s Ted’s Bubble Gun video:
A new configuration utility for Digi International’s XBee radios is available for Macintosh, Windows and Linux platforms from Moltosenso in Italy, and it’s free. According to their web site, Moltosenso Network Manager™ IRON enables the following tasks:
- full support to any API Operation mode (with and without escaped characters)
- get/set of the parameters of Digi International® modules plugged to the PC, both in API and AT mode
- get/set of the parameters of Digi International® modules remotely addressable
- an effective graphic test for RSSI parameter, especially tailored for XBEE™ modules
- firmware upload (local and – where available – remote) for many supported Digi International® modules.
Download it now and let us know what you think!
At NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, students in Rob Faludi’s “Sensitive Buildings” course were given access to a 28-story apartment building in Manhattan. Using XBee radio modules, students created a variety of projects utilizing both the building’s existing systems and a set of XBee wireless gateways. Projects included a mail chute tracker, a projection that visualizes elevator use, an exercise monitoring system, and a sensor network that measures climate conditions and noise throughout the building.
Colombo’s not only a MAKE writer, he was also one of many fine students in the inaugural Sensitive Buildings class, currently scheduled to run again this September at NYU. For the fall, I’m planning to focus even more on observation and prototyping for trying out new ideas. Thanks to various advances in Digi International’s technology suite, including the enhanced XIG, it has become much faster to teach the tech. Students can also learn directly from my book which leaves us free to dig into the practice of interaction design and make new technologies that are really useful to tenants.
Click below to see what Colombo’s piece looks like in print:
I’ll be at Maker Faire Bay Area in San Mateo, California on May 19th and 20th with Digi International. We’ll be showing off a neat XBee and iDigi project, one that’s featured in the next issue of MAKE Magazine. More about that project soon…
Meantime, here’s a video about Maker Faire:
Brian Jepson used the XBee Internet Gateway running on a Digi ConnectPort to create a distributed voting system to compile feedback from a wine tasting event at O’Reilly Media’s Strata big data conference in Santa Clara, California. The WineShade manages all the data acquisition and display for Coco Krumme‘s Data Crush: Where Wine and Data Meet.
“This new event at Strata hosted wine tastings for participants, whose feedback data was compiled and analyzed to extrapolate behavioral trends and factors influencing their responses. At the event, we had several stations set up with different types of wine. It was your basic taste test, where the brands were concealed, and the architect of the experiment (Coco) used various methods to influence responses. After the participants drank the wine, they were instructed to proceed to the WineShade voting station and press the button whose label corresponded to the wine they just drank. As the experiment proceeded, the votes were tallied on a central server.”
Because the voting stations were distributed throughout the event, each station needed a way to talk to a central server. Brian used Digi’s XBee modules, and the XBee Internet Gateway (XIG) on a ConnectPort X2, to move data from the XBee network directly to his web servers. (The XIG can also talk to the iDigi cloud directly.)
It’s going to be the largest collection of XBee projects on the Web. So many people have used XBee radios to create amazing things that Liz Presson and I created a place for Digi (makers of the XBee) to feature the incredible work. Musical shoes, digital dominoes, interactive sculptures and autonomous penguins await!