April 11-14, 2007
San Francisco, California

Interactions: Description

Imagining the Internet: How Inexpensive Microprocessors, Cell Phones, and Solid State Servers can Interact with the Physical World   go to paper

Michael Edson, Smithsonian American Art Museum, USA

Most of us are conditioned to think of the World Wide Web as a network of expensive desktop computers and servers, but the standards that define the Internet and the Web can be interpreted in other ways and used with other technologies. Students at Carnegie Mellon University put their departmental Coke machine on the Internet in the 1970's so they could tell when the machine was full and how cold the cans were without leaving their desks; LG makes an Internet enabled washing machine; and the Zipcar car-sharing service can monitor its fleet and even unlock a car’s doors over the Web. How does this all work? And what are the implications for museum technologists and others who are curious about the future of the Internet?

In this hands-on workshop and lecture/demonstration, participants will explore these questions by constructing and programming an Internet enabled Coke machine in the classroom. The machine will be built using inexpensive, readily available microcontrollers (small, solid-state computers) and will be able to communicate and be controlled by Web sites, databases, cell phones, RFID cards, and even a television remote control. Participants do not need to have any prior knowledge of programming or computer science: just curiosity and the willingness to challenge their own preconceptions about what the Internet is and does.

Mini-Workshop: Coke Machine [Technology]

Keywords: internet, standards, Web, programming, robotics, mobile technology, physical computing