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You can add a huge measure of extensibiltiy to a project by using a cellular connection. Anywhere the device can get service you can interact with it. In the past this has been a pretty deep slog through datasheets to get everything working, but this tutorial will show the basics of interacting with phone calls and text messages. It’s the 26th installment of what is becoming and mammoth Arduino series, and the first one in a set that works with the SM5100B cellular shield.
We love the words of warning at the top of the article which mention that a bit of bad code in your sketch could end up sending out a barrage of text messages, potentially costing you a bundle. But there’s plenty of details and if you follow along each step of the way we think you’ll come out fairly confident that you know what you’re doing. Just promise us that you won’t go out and steal SIM cards to use with your next project. Find part two of the tutorial here and keep your eyes open for future installments.
[Navic] added a slew of abilities to his RFID reader. It’s now a full-featured RFID reader and smart card writer with extras. When we looked at it last time the unit was just an RFID and smart card reader in a project enclosure. You could see the RFID code of a tag displayed on the LCD screen, but there wasn’t a lot more to it than that.
The upgrade uses the same project enclosure but he’s added four buttons below the display. These allow him to access the different features that he’s implemented. The first one, which is shown in the video after the break, allows him to store up to six tags in the EEPROM of the Basic Stamp which drives the unit. He can dump these tag codes to a smart card (pictured above), but also has the option of interfacing with a PC to read from and write to that card.
We don’t think you can directly write RFID tags with the device, but we could be wrong.
Backups can now be booted on the Xbox 360 according to Xbox-scene. The firmware was released by Commodore4Eva who previously released a functional Xbox 1 firmware. It works under the same idea as the final Xbox hack: it patches the response to the media check into the DVD drive’s firmware. So the drive responds with an all-clear without even checking the DVD. This hack works on units with the Toshiba-Samsung drive. The new firmware also lets you use the drive under Windows for easy game ripping. There are some quirks to it, but it sounds like everything you need is included. It’s unfortunate that this happened before they were able to get executable code running on the machine. Now that the bootleggers have what they want I’m afraid it might take some steam out of the homebrew movement.
[Kai Kunze] from the Embedded Systems Lab at Passau came to 25C3 to talk about Cyborgs and Gargoyles: State of the Art in Wearable Computing. There have been a lot of homebrew wearable computing solutions, but [Kai] covered specifically projects that could see everyday use in the real world.
The first was a prototype system they built for use in hospitals. The doctor wore a belt buckle sized linux computer under his coat which was attached to an RFID reader on his wrist. He would read the patients RFID wrist band, which would display their chart on the screen. He could then scroll and select using a capacitive sensor built into the coat. Notes could be taken using a bluetooth headset. The system kept the doctor’s hands free for examining the patient while still providing as much information as possible. They actually ran this system for 30 days in a hospital.
The next example was a joint project with the car manufacturer Skoda. Quality assurance (QA) testing can be a long process with many more steps than assembly operations. The team attached sensors to the worker to determine where the worker was in relation to the car and to get direct measurement of the object being tested. The use of wearable technology meant they got more data than they normally would with standard QA testing and they could quickly prompt the worker if they missed a step.
[Kai] identified a couple projects that would make developing your own system much quicker. Context Recognition Network Toolbox helps you identify what actions are being performed. They’ve used it to build systems like an automated kung-fu trainer that can recognize poses. There’s also a context logger app for the iPhone that can be trained using accelerometer data to recognize different activities. He also suggested a program developed with Zeiss for visually prompting workers as they performed tasks. In testing, it was 50% faster than text instructions and 30% faster than voice.
One of the more bizarre/interesting ideas we saw was a phone locator based on resonance (PDF). Designed for a Symbian device, it would play a sound and then record the result that had been modified by the surroundings. Each surface had its own signature so you could query the phone and it would report where it was i.e. on the desk, on the sofa, in the drawer. This resonance sampling can also be employed using the vibration motor.
The final point [Kai] touched on was privacy. If you’re wearing a sensor, you’re potentially giving away personal data. He showed an example of how systems could be designed to keep this information to users. The first part was a camera recording the movement of people in a room. It could identify where the faces were, but not who they were. One of the participants had an accelerometer recording their movements. That user could use the camera’s data to figure out his own movement in the space by correlating the data, but no one else would see the full picture.
We’ve had several POV projects, the bike, the pendant… but [max] over at zedomax knows how to use the tip line – and I do swing a club now and then. This time the POV device is attached to a golf club. They call it a training device, and I’d have to agree, as it could be a good way to get your swing into a proper rhythm. [I *know* ladyada has plenty of POV boards if you want one that's easy to build.]