Making Things Talk: Practical Methods for Connecting Physical Objects / Edition 1

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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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780596510510
  • Publisher: Maker Media, Inc
  • Publication date: 9/29/2007
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 8.03 (w) x 9.71 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet 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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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 30, 2013

    Engaging, very well written for such a technical topic, and the

    Engaging, very well written for such a technical topic, and the projects are fun and interesting.  I like this book so much, I'll be looking for more by the author.

    On the technical front, if you're working with Arduino or one of the similar small embedded platforms, and need your project to communicate with the outside world, this book will be invaluable in introducing many of the ways you can make that happen.  Since the tiny computers and the sensors draw so little power, they are easy to power with common batteries, which makes nearly every designer want to make them wireless.  This book will introduce and explain many of the simple ways to do that, using small modules easily obtained from numerous internet sellers.  I'm currently making a garden robot that will report into the house via bluetooth, using one of the exercises in the book to learn how to make the inexpensive bluetooth serial modules work with an arduino-compatible.

    I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to un-wire their arduino project.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Not bad

    good book that explains electronics well and then has some lab work to back it all up. I enjoy the Make type books and magazines. They seem to know how to keep you interested and learn by doing. I don't thinks kids should use this book unless a parent or teacher is over-looking and supervising them.

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  • Posted April 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    An Arduino Microcontroller Project Gold Mine!

    The name and cover art of this book fooled me for quite some time, but you should not pass it up if you're interested in Arduino microcontroller projects and simple wireless communications. It is cleverly disguised as something trivial, but is actually an incredibly well-written, simple, and comprehensive guide to causing your microcontroller projects to interact in both wired and wireless environments. It focuses specifically on the Arduino flavor of development boards that are powered by Atmel, 8-bit microcontrollers.

    This is very much a hands-on project book. It uses a well-planned series of practical projects to take the reader through progressively more complex projects, many of which are very esoteric, befitting the cult mentality of the open-source Arduino community. Photos, illustrations, diagrams, schematics, and lots of source code abounds.

    The author, Tom Igoe, has a terrific knack for engaging the reader in a personal manner. While following along with his projects is a great teaching aid and is useful in the short term, the book has great staying power and will become a reference book that you'll pull out over and over.

    Specific topics I found particularly valuable are related to his simple explanations of wired and wireless serial communications, the integration of the xBee series of wireless transceivers, and methods for causing Arduino microcontroller projects to communicate via the internet.

    "Making Things Talk" also finds itself in the good company of other books published by Make Books, the driving force behind the very clever magazine and website with a similar name, Make Magazine ( If you like to make things -- anything -- make sure you look at everything this publisher has to offer. They are single-handedly intent on reviving what is progressively being lost here in the good ole' USA...the endeavor of creating tangible things using your own brain and hands.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2007

    Fun, fun, fun

    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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    Posted October 14, 2008

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    Posted May 21, 2009

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    Posted November 10, 2009

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