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.
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.
Although many years have passed in which the automation of home electronics did not get a hold on most of the world, due to quite expensive microprocessors, now is the time to change it. The new, affordable, Arduino processor brings home automation to everyday life.
Igoe, being one of the original developers of the Arduino processor, gives the reader of Making things talk: Practical Methods for Connecting Physical Objects a very clear introduction to physical computing in all senses of the word: how the microprocessor does its job, what you have to do to get it going (programming the processor) and what cool stuff you can get it to do. Igoe tells us about the hardware needed, the software to program and the protocols to use.
This 'manual to Arduino' contains very, very much information and is written in a language expecting some level of familiarity with electronics. The book is built around projects, varying from a toy monkey functioning as a computer mouse to a camera used as barcode scanner and recognizer or a program that operates as GPS through BlueTooth.
Altogether, this book gives a dense insight in the Arduino microprocessor and aimes for the reader knowing at least something of electronics. Making Things Talk is obviously written by one of the developers of Arduino, for it contains a lot of tips&tricks from the expert. If the idea of the lights in your house, or even the toy monkey of your kids, automated and programmed through a computer is something that makes your heart beat faster, this is really the book for you.
On the rear cover is written "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." That's an open door to the MAKE magazine DIY project mindset.
Tom eases the reader into the basics of making things communicate - some basic electronics, electronic communication interfaces, tools for building electronics, and some unix commands - then traverses through simple serial communications, computer networks, infrared and radio, Bluetooth and X10. For each type of communication, once he describes the concept he builds a working device, then applies it in some intersting way. The cores of the technologies he presents are not detailed because the goal is for the reader to make things talk with each other as quickly as possible.
His examples are based on an Arduino microcontroller module with USB port, and you'll need a PC of some flavor to interact with it, along with other electronics "parts" to flash out the hardware design. On the software end some knowledge of Java and PHP computer programming will help, but the concepts in the example code snippets should be portable for those who have such programming skills.
The variety of examples that Tom uses could keep a tinkerer busy for quite some time trying, testing and learning. I can see myself basing some of my workbench projects on his designs. This is very much a hands-on book, which suits me fine. 9 of 10.
Coming from the MAKE imprint of O'Reilly, I expected much from Tom Igoe's Making Things Talk. A pioneer in physical computing, Igoe's work has appeared in MAKE Magazine, where I first got turned on to the Arduino family of microcontrollers. I was not disappointed when I cracked open this book!
The book covers the basics of physical computing, learning to program and use microcontrollers, simple electronics, internet-aware devices, and interaction with humans and physical objects. Several useful appendices include code examples, distributor contact information, and software resources.
Making Things Talk is a definitive guide and reference for anyone interested in learning computer-controlled electronics with little patience for scouring obscure web pages for outdated information. The book covers the Arduino and Wiring microcontrollers, whose open source IDEs are available on Windows, Mac, and Linux. The controllers themselves can be ordered from SparkFun Electronics at www.sparkfun.com, for less money than one might think. Computer code examples given in the Processing multimedia language, also open source and cross-platform, can be easily ported to Python, Ruby, and the like.
In short, Making Things Talk will make you talk: to computers, microcontrollers, electronics, physical objects, and the Internet in new, exciting, and useful ways that you never thought possible.
This is a well-written and perfectly illustrated book on practical wireless networking. It is apparent, that the author's goal was teaching (thankfully, no surprise here -- he teaches networking at New York University), not simply showing how something can be slapped together: for every project, he lays a brief but vivid description of the underlying technology, and then shows how to make it work in the real world.
The book is a perfect example of how to enable a reader to try things without much guessing: in addition to code listing and excellent pictures, in the chapter "Where to Get Stuff" the author lists manufacturers of necessary components, including the contact info, like phone numbers.
Subtitle: Practical Methods for Connecting Physical Objects
First Edition: September 2007
ISBN 10: 0-596-51051-9
ISBN 13: 9780596510510
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.
Languages used in this book include Arduino/Wiring, PHP, and Processing, but it was easy for me to see how they could be translated into other languages if you are not familiar with these three. Lots of coding examples.
This book starts with "Who This Book Is For", "What You Need To Know", "Contents of This Book", "On Buying Parts", "Using Code Examples", "Using Circuit Examples", and "Acknowledgments". Make sure you check out page XIII with the blue triangle with the exclamation point in it. Important...
I do not worry too much about errors until they make me feel like the author[s] may not really be expert in the area they are writing about but all these projects look good to me. The author claims to be a professor teaching students this stuff. Huh, who knew a professor actually knew anything. For that reason alone you should buy this book. :)
The book is well balanced and starts with The Tools, Chapter One. It is extremely well written and very useful. The Tools, Chapter Seven is extremely well written and very useful. Having two entirely different chapters called The Tools is a first for me.
This book is light reading. I read it in four days, just a couple of hours a day. The style is light and easy to enjoy. The flow of the style makes it hard to believe that multiple authors are involved in the writing. It seems like one person wrote it. The author gives credit to all his students, other professors, his dog, etc. but the flow of the book and writing style make it seem like the work of one person.
I liked the following chapters quite a bit:
Chapter 2 The Simplest Network
Chapter 6 Wireless Communication
Chapter 9 Identification
The best chapters were hard to determine, all the chapters were excellent. Here is the one I thought was best:
Chapter 8 How to locate almost anything
Of course I have a 27 year old son who can not find anything, so I might be a little biased here.
This book is worth 5 stars and every penny charged for it, taking everything into account. This book will pay for itself.
I also liked the source: The Interactive Telecommunications Program in the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University was interesting academically. I never heard of it before reading the acknowledgments but might find my way there someday. The more words in the names in a school, the better it must be. Fifteen  is a lot of words for one program
Definitive, in the sense that a simple to complex text in this subject matter could be.
Frederick J Eccher Jr
M.S. Management of Information Systems
CIO, Community Partners
President, Board of Directors, Saint Louis Visual Basic Users Group