Walking Productions

Networked Objects Journal

Shawn Van Every (sve204 at nyu dot edu), Spring 2003

May 4, 2003

Final Project Seeing, Talking Rhino

For my final project I created a seeing, talking rhino. It is a stuffed animal that has a camera, ethernet controller and voice synthesis module embeded with in it for the purpose of creating a hybrid telepresence and survellance object.

Java Applet/Application (requires Java 1.2 or greater including the Java browser plugin).
Source code

Better Screen Shots and Video Footage to Come...

Component Information:
CMUCam purchased from Seattle Robotics and developed at CMU's Robotics Institute
V8600A Voice Synthesis Module from RC Systems
CoBox Micro from Lantronix

For this project, I did not utilize a microcontroller independent of the ones on the various modules (such as the one on the camera and the one on the voice synthesis module).

Summer Project Idea: Roaming DNS like Service for ITP Stage (for WiFi and Embedded Devices)

Specs to Come Soon!

Mid-Term Paper, Concerning "Smart Mob" Media.


One of my biggest concerns of late has been the well known consolidation of media interests into the hands of a few (the media oligarchy) which can be said to be almost promoted by legislation in our governments. It is in the possibilities of subverting these trends that I look forward to new technologies in the hopes that traditional media are unable to evolve fast enough to meet the challenge these technologies will pose to their power structures. If these technologies are developed and deployed at a fast enough pace then perhaps individuals may have enough time to have their voices heard in an unedited and unbiased manner.


Stupid Net-Trick

After a series of difficulties related to using the PIC for the first time, attempting to use C instead of Basic and working with the CoBox micro I finally got something working.

For this project, I created a simple Java Application that communicated through the network to a board with a PIC reading ADC values from a POT and communicating serially through the CoBox. Turning the POT and thereby changing the ADC readings triggered the Java application to change background colors.

While not very exciting this project allowed me to learn quite a bit regarding the PIC, CoBox and PIC C.

  • First and foremost, I learned that in order for serial communication to function correctly on the PIC with PIC C, any and all delays must be removed from the code. Aparently the PIC does not have much (if any) of a buffer to hold incomming serial data and therefore requires a pretty tight loop in order not to miss the bytes.
  • Second, when dealing with the PIC, using PIC C and the PC serial data needs to be inverted. When dealing with the PIC and the CoBox serial data does not need to be inverted. Other combinations follow logically from these two premises.
  • Third, the CCS PIC C compiler does not load up a new hex file for already loaded hex files if selected from the recently used menu in the file menu and you must explicitly "open" the newly compiled hex file.
  • Fourth, while the PIC 16F877 supports a 20mhz crystal clock, the Jameco bread boards do not handle them well and in order for the PIC to function correctly a lower speed clock should be used. I choose to work with a 4mhz crystal instead.

    Java Source
    PIC C Source

    Misc. Links:

    Microchip, makers of the PIC series or microcontrollers.
    Tom Igoe's Site, lots of great resources
    Lantronix, makers of the CoBox Micro and the new XPort (really cool new product)
    The PIC List, high volume mailing list, everything PIC and every thing else, a great resource
    DLink, makers of wireless ethernet streaming cameras
    A Summary of Ubiquitous, Mobile, and Wearable Computing (1/22/03)

    Reading Notes: Website Activity Monitoring (real time)-Visitor Awareness http://www10.org/cdrom/papers/425/

    Establish a physical (ambient) relationship w/web visitors

    Do back checking of website associated w/domain - They will be seen much as you are in a showroom

    Notes from Bill Buxton Reading: http://www.billbuxton.com/sponges.html

    A user's perception of something comes from the interface that something presents not from an understanding of what that something is.

    So, redesigning the interface, the physical interface is to change the perception of the thing. A TV is still a TV embedded in gas pump but people will think of it as gas pump entertainment, not TV.

    Overloaded functionality makes all functions equally useless. Multipurpse machines are stuck in one location and do not move to the kitchen for recipe information nor to the livingroom for movie watching.

    Some images of a functional board with CoBox, PIC and PC

    First working PIC C code (reference): program.c

    Student Discount on CoBox Micro order given by: Symmetry Electronics

    As of late, I have come across a number of articles describing a new flexible display technology being refered to as Organic Light Emitting Polymars (OLEPs or OLEDs).
    Below is a compilation of some of those links:


    Intro to Physical Computing Journal