Our previous post thoughts on response and interaction mentions the idea of embedded systems and the process of physically making things talk. Our first example uses an Arduino micro-controller , ambient light sensor the Processing programming language/development environment and a source of data which in this case is light. This communication involves 4 participants with the micro controller acting as the manager directing all parties involved. To make things simple I will make up names for each piece of technology used. We will call the micro controller (Carl) the sensor (Susan), the Processing IDE (Paul) and the light source (Sam). We will assume that each person speaks a few languages, in reality this communication takes place via programming syntax.

The dialog goes as so:

  1. Carl the controller goes to Susan the sensor located at room (A0), he asks Susan to get data from Sam the source.
  2. Once Susan the sensor has the requested data she sends it back to Carol the controller.
  3. Carl the controller then takes the data and sends it to Paul from Processing.
  4. Paul is very artistic and draws the data on the screen.

Carl is quite demanding looping through this sequence over and over again…

Ambient light data

Ambient light data display via Processing and Arduino

In reality the process goes something like this:

  1. Code is written to the Arduino micro controller asking for the anolog input voltage streaming from pin (A0).
  2. The sensor plugged into pin (A0) captures the numeric values of light in the form of voltage ranging from 0 to 1023.
  3. The Code written to the Arduino micro controller grabs those values and sends them through the serial port.
  4. The Processing code catches the values from the serial port and draws vertical lines based on the values, which in turn gives us a graphic representation of light

As we build on this example take note to the fact that the general story stays the same, we swap out a few different characters, a few different roles, a few different languages but at the end of the day its still a group of ‘people’ ‘talking’ and relaying information.