Tag Archives: ATmega168

8-bit turkey, anyone?

Most people prefer their Thanksgiving turkey stuffed. Well, engineers like it embedded.

Who’s ready for the IoT? The Internet of Turkeys, that is. As everything around us becomes connected, engineers have seemingly found countless ways to embed technology into once-ordinary objects to make them smart. And well, Collin Cunningham has proven that there really is nothing that can’t be enhanced with the help of an Arduino, not even poultry. Introducing the 8-bit TurkeyShield.

Open source 8 bit turkey accelerometer readings

Several years ago, the Maker decided to embellish the holiday centerpiece by stuffing it with a plethora of technology. This included an Arduino Duemilanove (ATmega168), a potentiometer for user input, an accelerometer for knowing its bearings, a compass so it’s always facing due north, a lithium backpack for power and mobility, as well as an LCD screen. He even went as far as wiring on a TouchShield Stealth (ATmega645) for output.

Open source 8 bit turkey putting in touchshield

“I’m always looking out for new ways to add more shields and components to my Arduino, and this felt like a natural (and festive) experiment, so I gave it a shot,” Cunningham explains.

He also threw on a knob for toggling (admittedly this didn’t work) and a button, which enables him to know exactly when the turkey is ready to eat. Now, he can easily monitor vital orientation data with the help of the LCD display.

Open source 8 bit turkey with knob all the way in

In true Maker spirit, Cunningham has made his project open source and has outlined his entire build here. Gobble gobble!

A $10 USB charger can record your keystrokes wirelessly

A security researcher has developed a USB wall charger that can eavesdrop on nearly every Microsoft keyboard.

Although we shared this discreet hack from Samy Kamkar back in January, a recent tweet from Lifehacker triggered our memory and we just had to share again! KeySweeper is an Arduino-based keylogger for Microsoft wireless keyboards (which use a proprietary 2.4GHz RF protocol) that is cleverly camouflaged as a functioning USB wall charger. The stealthy ATmega328 driven device can sniff, decrypt, log and report back all keystrokes — saving users both locally and online.


Keystrokes are then relayed back to the KeySweeper operator over the Internet via an optional GSM chip, or can be stored on a flash chip and delivered wirelessly when a secondary KeySweeper comes within range of the target KeySweeper. In fact, the well-known hardware hacker suggests that an effective reach of KeySweeper is that of a typical Bluetooth device, but could be extended using a low-noise amplifier. A web-based tool enables the live keystroke monitoring.


Users can set up SMS alerts that are triggered when certain keystrokes in the form of words, usernames or URLS are being typed, e.g. “bank” or heck, even “www.atmel.com.” (*Shameless SEO plug.*) If KeySweeper is removed from AC power, it will give off the impression that it is shut off; however, the inconspicuous gadget continues to operate covertly using an internal battery that is automatically recharged upon reconnecting to AC power.

As you are well aware, wireless keyboards have become a popular option for users wanting to connect to a laptop. Kamkar said he picked Microsoft’s keyboards after going into Best Buy and seeing which models seemed to be the most prevalent. Such units often encrypt their data before sending it wirelessly, but Kamkar claims to have discovered multiple bugs that make it easy to decrypt. While the researcher hasn’t tested the device on every Microsoft keyboard, he does believe that due to given their similarities, they will all be affected.

The KeySweeper project builds on previous work from Travis Goodspeed, Thorsten Schröder and Max Moser around the megaAVR controlled KeyKeriki.


Kamkar says the cost for KeySweeper can range anywhere from $10 to $80, depending on the operation and its necessary functions. Aside from the Arduino Pro Mini that he selected for its size, other components include:

  • nRF24L01+ 2.4GHz RF chip which communicates using GFSK over 2.4GHz
  • AC USB charger for converting AC power to 5v DC.
  • (Optional) A SPI Serial Flash chip can be used to store keystrokes on.
  • (Optional) Adafruit FONA which allows you to use a 2G SIM card to send/receive SMS, phone calls, and use the Internet directly from the device.
  • (Optional, if using FONA) The FONA requires a mini-SIM card — not a micro SIM.
  • (Optional, if using FONA): The FONA provides on-board LiPo/LiOn battery recharging, and while KeySweeper is connected to AC power, the battery will be kept charged, but is required nonetheless.


It should be noted that the hacker does say a Teensy MCU can be used in place of the ‘duino. As for the software, the primary code is installed on the microcontroller, while the web-based backend uses jQuery and PHP to log all keystrokes and provide an interface for live monitoring of target keyboards. KeySweeper’s source code and schematic are available on GitHub.

Intrigued? You can access the entire build on Kamkar’s official page.

These Halloween projects are full of tricks and treats

Happy Hallow-uino!

Let’s face it, Halloween is arguably one of, if not, the best night to be a Maker — a celebration full of carving, candy, costumes, and of course, some creative decorations. To pay homage to All Hallows’ Eve, we’ve decided to compile a list of a few tricks, which are surely a treat to see!

Talkin’ Skeleton

Tired of having to greet those trick-or-treaters personally? With an Arduino Duemilanove (ATmega168) for a brain, this talking skeleton will take care of all that mumbo jumbo for you, with a variety of your own prerecorded phrases. Muahahahaha!

Terrifyin’ Demon Costume

A monster mash-up of animated LED backpacks and a wave shield voice changer creates a rather terrifying, electronic demon mask.

Findin’ Out Whose the Fairest of Them All

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest scariest one of them all? This wall-mounted installation plays animations based on input from various sensors and features four characters — with each character responding to the sensor inputs with its own personality. There’s even a photo booth feature as well.

Knockin’ on the Box

Simply knock on this ATtiny45 embedded box and it’ll knock back. If you tap on it a special number of times, it’ll play a secret tune, too!

Rulin’ a Bunch of Scarecrow Minions

Having already become quite the ‘ween must-see in his town, Maker Ryan Hughes decided to up his creative game by making a display of scarecrow minions lorded over by Pumpkin King.

Droppin’ Spiders

Spook those coming to your doorstep by dropping fake spider whenever someone comes near. Using an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), a ping sensor and a few servos, this automated mechanism will sense when a trick-or-treater approaches and release the eight-legged prop accordingly.

Textin’ Pumpkins

Add some interactivity to your haunted house by devising a Twilio-based web app that changes the color of pumpkins using an Arduino and a few LED strips. As a bonus, Maker Jarod Reyes included a power-switch to turn on a fog machine and also added a little eerie jazz music when trick-or-treaters texted “chaos” to the app.

Playin’ Some Pumpktris

As its name would suggest, Pumpktris is a fully playable version of Tetris built into a pumpkin with 128 LEDs for the display and the stem serving as a game controller.

Creepin’ Out Guests With Skully

This super simple yet creepy skull is attached to a single servo with LEDs in its eyes. Placed on the ground and masked with a net, this decoration will surely catch a couple of guests off guard.

Trickin’ Guests

Trick or treat? Ben Harben’s Halloween gadget comprised of an Arduino, a Nerf gun, a Gatorade bottle water reservoir and a coat hanger-turned-corkscrew makes either a matter of possibility.

Dishin’ Out Treats Automatically

Admit it, waiting around to dish out candy can get a bit boring. Just like everything else, why not automate it? This candy dispenser — equipped with an Arduino, X10 and Twilio — utilizes a pair of servos to both open the chute and mix the contents. What’s more, the contraption can be controlled via smartphone or SMS.

Skippin’ the Candy Bowl

Instead of putting out a candy bowl on your porch, this nifty, Arduino Leonardo (ATmega32U4)-driven vending machine will disperse the Halloween sweets without you ever having to leave the couch. (See it in action here.)


Trippin’ the Alarm

Fill your decorated room with smoke, then challenge haunted house goers to navigate the LASER Maze without tripping the ATmega168 driven alarm.

Snappin’ Selfies With Zombies

This Maker’s build employed a molded silicone arm, a custom steel mount to clip to an office partition and a vibration sensor hooked up to an Arduino. Once the arm is slapped, a photo is taken via an IR LED and passed to an Eye-Fi card in the camera. The pic is then put into a Dropbox folder and an IFTTT recipe tweets it.


Fire-Breathin’ Jack-o-Lantern

Let’s just say: Kids, don’t try this one at home. We repeat: Kids, or adults for that matter, don’t try this at home! One Maker decided to create a fire-breathing jack-o-lantern using an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) and a sonar proximity sensor to detect distances. As you can see, this wasn’t safe enough place on the doorstep.

Gettin’ Mystical With Gemma

Looking to stir up some fear with your Halloween getup? Adafruit’s Becky Stern has you covered. She has crafted a mystical hood equipped with LED eyes, which is perfect for your next Jawa, Black Mage, or Orko costume. The interactive garment features a Gemma (ATtiny85) that causes two NeoPixel Jewels to slowly fade on and off for the full spooktacular eye effect.

Trappin’ Candy Thieves

Don’t you just hate it when trick-or-treaters take all of your candy? This year, you can stop that! Keep those treat thieves away by using an Arduino to detect when someone has their hand in the candy bowl, and use a solenoid to shoot silly string at those gluttonous visitors!

Lightin’ Up Your House

Shelby Merrick has adorned his home with a light show that would certainly impress Clark Griswold, that’s for sure!  The Maker designed special ATXmega8E5 based controller (dubbed FloodBrain) that switches a set of 12 flood RGBs to achieve the desired effects seen below.

Bringin’ Splatterhouse to Life

Clay Cowgill is dead-icated to Halloween, so much so that he made his own Splatterhouse arcade cabinet. Aside from a lot of little details on the outside, the Maker added some circuitry inside that triggers real world effects based on in-game variables.

Soarin’ UFO Style

If you’re not a fan of Halloween and are frightened by the mere thought of aliens, we recommend that you don’t visit this house on October 31st. One Maker has crafted a pretty impressive DIY UFO project using cardboard, tape, tinfoil, 8mm of diffused Adafruit NeoPixels and an Arduino Micro (ATmega32u4).

Controllin’ Zombie Dolls With Arduino

Umm… This. Is. Creepy.

Poppin’ Out of the Ground

Speaking of zombies, this Arduino-powered prop features a motion-activated, pivoting head along with corresponding sound effects and some smoke machine goodness.

Flyin’ Ghosts Around the Neighborhood

Thanks to this dressed up quadcopter, Casper won’t be the only ghost you’ll see flying through the night sky.

Visitin’ the Haunted Mansion

Those who’ve ever been to Disney World’s Haunted Mansion can now bring some of that magic home to their front yard this Halloween… with the help of an Arduino Uno (ATmega328).

Blinkin’ Eyes of Doom

Looking for an interactive way to dress up the walkway while spooking some trick-or-treaters? These randomly-changing, multi-colored and ATtiny85 powered eyes should do the trick.

Tunell Monitor stops filament feeding problems

This upgrade can save prints that would otherwise be lost to a filament jam, tangle or empty spool.

We’ve all been there — you’re just about to finish 3D printing an object and the machine runs out of filament; your filament gets stuck because the spool was loaded incorrectly; or your hot-end gets jammed due to accumulation in the nozzles. When these problems occur, the job is usually lost due to air-prints.


Looking to put an end to such scenarios, the ToyBuilder Labs crew and Aaron Tunell have developed what they call the Tunell 3D Printer Filament Monitor. This device will spot a filament feeding problem right as it happens and pause the machine so that you can fix it immediately, instead of having to throw a partial print away. For long-running prints, this indispensable add-on will pay for itself in no time.


The Tunell Monitor uses a mechanical 24 PPR (positions-per-revolution) encoder to detect filament travel as you print. If the filament stops moving for longer than the (adjustable) timeout period, a fault signal is sent to your printer.

Beyond that, the device features a connection point for an external pause button and an alarm/relay/signaling LED, as well as FlashForge Creator, Wanhao Duplicator, and MakerBot Replicator with a four-pin latching cable. Powered by an ATmega168 MCU, the Tunell Monitor is Arduino programmable via an ISP hardware programmer, like the AVRISP mkII. It is compatible with a number of MakerBot printers running the Sailfish firmware upgrade, in addition to Marlin-based units with an available end-stop and expansion I/O pin, and other printer controllers that support external pause signaling.


Tired of wasted print jobs? Check out the Tunell Monitor on ToyBuilder Lab’s official site here.

OrbMi is reinventing the answering machine

OrbMi lets you stay in touch with those that matter to you the most.

Take a look around you. Whether you’re in a coffee shop, at work or even sitting in class, chances are nearly everyone has a smartphone in hand. Instead of actually conversing with their voice, more times than not their excitement, emotion and words are being replaced by an “LOL,” “<3” or some sort of emoji. Sad but true, gone are the days when people would use landlines. As the number of ditched landlines and social IM services continue to rise, so does the number of meaningful messages. Well aware of this change, Florida-based startup Retropreneur Labs has set to reverse this trend by reinventing the age-old answering machine for today’s mobile-centric world.


Howeverunlike the antiquated answering machine, OrbMi is not for missed calls — it’s for the voice messages people aren’t getting or sending, but should. The personal voice messaging system is designed to provide your closest friends and family a more convenient way to both send and receive comments, so your daily routine isn’t disrupted by unwanted texts and emails, nor will you have to scroll through hundreds of phone contacts. Plus, this should prove to be useful for those living in different time zones or find themselves working opposite schedules. 

“At its heart, it’s about better communication at the perfect time, every time. It allows us to share more freely and openly with our loved ones without inconvenience or disruption. With OrbMi, it’s ALWAYS a good time to call,” its co-founders Kelly Dyer and Andrew Ruppar explain. The duo had conceived the idea after challenging themselves to conceptualize a smart gadget that would change how people interact through technology.


Not only does its companion app make voice messaging relevant again, the OrbMi is different from other voice messaging alternatives, as it allows you to control your network of people who you can “Orb” or who can “Orb” you — also known as your “Orbit.”

With an ATmega168 at its core, the hardware device features a single button interface that enables you to play your messages. From the mobile app, just send a color and voice message to anyone in your Orbit. This message is received on the Orb and illuminates a soft color glow to indicate a new message is available. Once the receiver is at their Orb and ready to listen, they simply tap the top and the new memo is emitted through a built-in speaker. Not unlike the answering machines of yesterday, you can skip and repeat through your saved messages as well. What’s more, the Orb works by connecting to your home or office Wi-Fi network and doubles as a multi-port USB charging hub for your smartphones and tablets.


“Mobile devices allow us to communicate efficiently, but not sometimes not effectively. No matter how convenient our mobile lifestyles, we can’t lose our ability to communicate through voice, especially when sending meaningful messages.” Dyer adds.

So whether you’re a grandparent, a spouse, a college student, or a soldier overseas, OrbMi is ideal for anyone —  regardless of age, location and technical proficiency. Intrigued? Head over to its official Kickstarter page, where the Retropreneur Labs team is currently seeking $75,000. The app is available for both iOS and Android, with one for the Apple Watch app in the works. The first batch of units is expected to begin shipping in March 2016.

Building an estimated time of arrival device with littleBits

The Honest ETA device lets your housemate know when you’re likely to arrive home.

You’ve all been there: You tell your spouse that you’re on your way home, when in actuality you’ve yet to leave the office. As part of a recent collaboration between littleBits and Popular Science, one new project is looking to put an end to missed dinner dates, late arrivals and the altogether annoying habit of never being home when you said you’d be! In other words, no more “Honey, where are you?” messages.


The aptly named Honest ETA Device was created to let a housemate — whether that’s a parent, a significant other or a college roomie — know when you are on the way home, and more importantly, likely to arrive. The cloud-connected progress meter tracks your whereabouts by reading your smartphone’s location and then displays it on a bargraph module inside the house.

Honest ETA employs a GPS-enabled mobile device, coupled with some IFTTT recipes, the cloudBit and a bargraph to show your proximity. IFTTT recipes are set up using a location channel, tasked with triggering when you enter or exit a pre-set radius.

Given that there are five LEDs on the bargraph, the littleBits team programed five radii, each with recipes related to entry and exit. This allows you to keep tabs on someone as they come and go. Upon leaving the office (or the gym, class, or wherever else you may be), your smartphone will notify the cloudBit as you start to make your way home by illuminating the LEDs on the bargraph. The LEDs will continue to light up the closer that you get.


The project is also equipped with an MP3 player (ATmega168) and speaker, so that you can play a song of your choice when you’re only minutes away. If you happen to make it home first, however, an IFTTT SMS recipe will enable you send a text to your housemate with the press of a button, letting them know that you have indeed made it back safely.

On top of that, littleBits shares a nifty little idea to round out the design. Why not turn the circuit into an interactive wall piece that both displays your progress and holds your wallet? Using just a small hinged platform that sits directly on top of the button, the act of placing your wallet inside the case will automatically press the button, thereby sending a text message. Its creators note that you can add some acrylic edge lighting to the bargraph for nice visual effect, too.


Sound like a project you can benefit from? Hurry over to littleBits’ official page to get started. There, you will find a detailed step-by-step breakdown to help you bring your own ETA device to life, or simply watch the video tutorial below!

This DIY monitor helps prevent UV-caused skin damage

A Maker has developed a UV monitor based around an ambient light sensor, an ATmega168 and a 3V battery. 

Summer is quickly approaching. That means weekends at the beach, all day picnics and more time doing chores around the house. This also means more time spent outdoors and the inevitable bout with sunburn. Sure, those rays and extra vitamin D always make us feel and look good in the short, but that love isn’t a two-way street. Aside from painful, bright red arm and face, long-term unprotected exposure to sun can cause wrinkles, age spots, and potentially lead to benign and cancerous skin lesions down the road. As a way to keep us all a bit more mindful of potential epidermis damage, one Maker by the name “matrixwide” has developed a UV monitor based around an SI1132 light sensor, an ATmega168 MCU and a 3V CR2032 battery. 


A recent entry in this year’s Hackaday Prize, the aptly named Sunburn Monitor employs a sound-based interface that emits beeping signal settings indicating skin types (ranging from pale white to dark brown) and the use of sunscreen (none to SPF 45). As the Maker notes, this is to save power and reduce the cost of a display, especially since the monitor will often be outdoors in bright sunlight where only reflective displays would be usable.

“SI1132 was chosen as it produces a ‘calibrated’ UV index and takes up very little space. The ATmega168 was chosen as a cheap uC with hardware I2C support which is supported by the Arduino environment,” matrixwide writes. This, of course, enables a broad range of users to easily modify the code as they see fit in the IDE.


As for power management, the system relies primarily on either deep sleep via hardware interrupt or watchdog timer interrupt for sleep-wake-sleep monitoring cycles. One of the Sunburn Monitor’s P-MOSFETS is tasked with controlling the power to the UV sensor, while another handles reverse-polarity protection.

Though the board’s current form factor (1.95” x 2.02”) represents a balance between ease of assembly and wearability, future iterations will be shrunken down to allow for remote sensor. For that version, the Maker says that he plans on implementing an UV photodiode and a tinyAVR instead.

Interested? You can check out the project’s entire log on Hackaday.io here.

12 projects that are redefining storytelling

In honor of World Book Day, here are some Maker innovations that are redefining storytelling…

They say stories can come to life, and well, these projects have taken that saying to an entirely new level.

This isn’t your typical coffee table book


Jonathan Zufi’s coffee table book entitled “ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation is the ultimate must-have for any Apple aficionado. The hardcover recounts the past 30 years of Apple design, exploring some of the most visually appealing and significant products ever created by the Cupertino-based company. The commemorative piece features a special white clamshell case along with a custom PCB configured to pulse embedded LEDs — like that of a sleeping older generation Apple notebook when moved — controlled by an Atmel 8-bit AVR RISC-based MCU.

This magical device will add augmented reality to storybooks 


The brainchild of Disney Research, HideOut explores how mobile projectors can enable new forms of interaction with digital content projected on everyday objects such as books, walls, game boards, tables, and many others. The smartphone-sized device enables seamless interaction between the digital and physical world using specially formulated infrared-absorbing markers – hidden from the human eye, but visible to a camera embedded in a compact mobile projection device. Digital imagery directly augments and responds to the physical objects it is projected on, such as an animated character interacting with printed graphics in a storybook.

This interactive piece of art tells a narrative


Created by Fabio Lattanzi Antinori, Dataflags is a narrative series of artwork that explores the financial troubles of corporations as they head towards bankruptcy, while highlighting the pivotal role data plays in today’s society. The piece — which was originally displayed in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum back in September 2014 — was powered by Bare Conductive’s incredibly-popular Touch Board (ATmega32U4) and some Electric Paint. The printed sensors were concealed by a layer of black ink, and when touched, triggered a selection of financial trading data theatrically sung by an opera performer.

This book judges you with its cover


Have you ever judged a book by its cover? Well, Amsterdam creative studio Moore is turning the tables on the old-school idiom by designing a sleeve equipped with an integrated camera and facial-recognition technology that scans the face of whoever comes near. The idea behind the aptly named Cover That Judges You was to build a book cover that is human and approachable-hi-tech. If someone conveys too much emotion – whether overexcitement or under-enthusiasm — the book will remain locked. However, if their expression is free of judgement, the system will send an audio-pulse to an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) and the book will unlock itself. The built-in camera is positioned at the top of the book’s sleeve, above a screen that feeds back the image when it detects a face in close proximity. Artwork featuring abstract facial features is displayed on the cover so that the user can line up their eyes, nose and mouth in the optimum position. Once the correct alignment is obtained, the screen turns green and a signal is relayed to the Arduino that opens the metal lock.

This interactive book lets you feel characters’ emotions


A team of MIT students unveiled a wearable book that uses networked sensors and actuators to create a sort of cyberpunk-like Neverending Story, blurring the line between the bodies of a reader and protagonist. The sensory fiction project — which built around James Tiptree’s “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” – was designed by Felix Heibeck, Alexis Hope, Julie Legault and Sophia Brueckner in the context of MIT’s Science Fiction To Science Fabrication class. The “augmented book” portrays the scenery and sets the mood, while its companion vest enables the reader to experience the protagonist’s physiological emotions unlike ever before. The wearable — controlled by an [Atmel based] Arduino board — swells, contracts, vibrates, heats up or cools down as the pages of the book are turned. Aside from 150 programmable LEDs to create ambient light based on changing setting and mood, the book/wearable support a number of outputs, including sound, a personal heating device to change skin temperature, vibration to influence heart rate, and a compression system to convey tightness or loosening through pressurized airbags.

This storytelling tree reads with you


In an effort to bring more interaction to story time, Northwood’s Childrens Museum in Wisconsin created a storytelling tree capable of reading along with you. The old computers inside the the museum display were retrofitted with a Touch Board (ATmega32U4) from Bare Conductive. In fact, this was a welcomed replacement as one staff member said that the computers “broke constantly and hogged power, keeping us from updating sounds files periodically throughout the year.”  Unlike its embedded predecessor, the MCU allowed sound files to be changed in an expedited manner, and was slim enough to nestle neatly into the trunk’s design. And what would a treehouse-like exhibit be without a makeshift walkie talkie comprised of cans strung together? Creatively, a set of headphones were also placed inside the can to make it exciting for participants to listen to the story.

This book blends the analog and digital worlds


Makers Israel Diaz and Ingrid Ocana were on a mission to find new ways to bring children closer to the vast universe of reading. In doing so, the duo figured out a new way to enhance a traditional book with basic electronic components and some Arduino Uno (ATmega328) programming to interact with user intervention through simple built-in sensors, AC motors, LEDs and speakers.

This tale is told with the turn of a music box handle


Night Sun is an interactive audiovisual installation which tells a story with the turn of a music box handle, powered by an ATmega32U4 MCU. In order to bring his idea to fruition, the Maker commissioned an Arduino Micro to control the exhibit. The Arduino was instructed to send a ‘play’ command to a computer when it sensed the touch of a passerby. Once the wired music box handle was turned, the window would light up. A pre-recorded sound would then send a signal to the computer and begin playing… and just like that, the story unfolds.

This pop-up book is made for the digital age 


A Maker by the name of Antonella Nonnis recently devised a unique interactive electronic book powered by two ATmega168 based boards. The book, titled “Music, Math, Art and Science,” was inspired by the work of Munari, Montessori and Antonella’s very own mother. The book contains movable parts and uses the electrical capacitance of the human body to activate sounds and lights and other sensors like a button for the math page. Comprised of recycled materials, the book is powered by a pair of Arduino Diecimila, which control the paper pop-up piano and the other controls the arts and science page.

These soft puppets are recreating fables for kids and parents


Footprints – which was prototyped using an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) – can best be described as a network of interactive soft puppets that help create and share illustrated stories. Designed by Simone Capano, the project links various aspects of a child’s life, including school and family, by collecting and storing relevant data in the cloud. Footprints is typically initiated by a parent. Using a smartphone, the parent can record a little vocal story, add some images proposed by Footprints about the story that was just told, like the story’s characters or other objects related to it. Afterwards, the parent can send it all to the child’s puppet. The child can then listen to the story by placing the puppet on the tablet and playing with the images he or she has received to create a drawing about the story. Once the drawing is complete, Footprints send it back to the parent who then tracks the path of the stories shared with a child via the smartphone app.

This book really sets the scene


Created by Bertrand Lanthiez, Hvísl is described as “an invitation to both a visual and audible journey.” Pre-recorded sounds from Icelandic atmospheres are emitted with the help of electronic sensors hidden in some pages connected to a MaKey MaKey board (ATmega32U4). These effects accompany the reading and the contemplation of pictures from the country’s landscape.

This bookmark makes sure you never miss a part


Tired of having to reread pages in because you forgot which paragraph you left off on? Devised by 7Electrons, the aptly named eBookmark is envisioned to serve as a bridge between analog and digital worlds. The device — which is based on an 8-bit AVR MCU, various Adafruit components, 16 tiny LEDs and a resistive touch strip — allows the reader to save his or her place on the page, and with a switch, also select the left or right page. The top portion of the eBookmark extends for use with larger books.

This fiction machines lets you create your own narrative


Who could forget those ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books that became popular in the ‘80s and ‘90s? The series of children’s gamebooks where each story is written from a second-person point of view, with the reader assuming the role of the protagonist and making choices that determine the main character’s actions and the plot’s outcome. Similarly speaking, software developer Jerry Belich has created an interactive arcade machine that works on the same premise. The Choosatron is an interactive fiction machine that lets users select the story, while it prints out a transcript of the chosen story paths. In essence, the machine is a cardboard box with a small thermal printer, a coin acceptor, a keypad, an SD memory card and an Arduino-compatible board.

This wearable device is bringing everyday objects to life

TagMe is an easy-to-use toolkit for turning personal info into an extended communications interface.

Created by MIT Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces Group, TagMe is an end-user toolkit for easy creation of responsive objects and environments. It consists of a wearable device that is capable of recognizing the object or surface a user is touching through the use of RFID stickers. These tags are read by an RFID bracelet whenever the user comes in close proximity of the item.


“We present a novel approach to create simple and customizable rules based on emotional attachment to objects and social interactions of people. Using this simple technology, the user can extend their application interfaces to include physical objects and surfaces into their personal environment, allowing people to communicate through everyday objects in very low effort ways,” its team writes.

The wearable was 3D-printed using ABS materials, and its electronic components were embedded on one half of the bracelet, while a battery was placed on the other half. Both halves were then connected via a magnetic closing system. The bracelet also includes an Android application that interfaces with Facebook, Twitter, email and SMS.

“To endow the bracelet with the communication capability between the application and RFID tags, we used different types of electronic components. One of our goals was to make the bracelet as small and lightweight as possible so as to be comfortable being worn on the wrist all day.”


In order to accomplish this, the team used a mini RFID reader along with an ATmega168 MCU to control the entire system, a Bluetooth module to facilitate wireless communication and a polymer Lithium-ion battery to power the device.

According to its creators, TagMe can be implemented in a variety of applications, ranging from healthcare and personal relationships to home automation. The system can be used to create convenient “emergency” buttons, like in the event of a car accident, where by simply touching a tag, a notification is sent directly to 911 dispatchers. Beyond that, a social aspect of the project can enable reminders of things, people and places, or be deployed to stay in touch with friends and loved ones. For instance, every time a user touches a present that someone gave to them, an alert is sent to that person.

Want to learn more? You can read the project’s entire paper here, and watch it in action below.

Keep tabs on your coinage with this littleBits connected bank

Just a ‘littleBit’ of saving can go a long way!

As part of a future lab course at Parsons The New School for Design, a group of Makers have created an Internet-connected container — which they have ‘coined’ Smart Bank — that uses an Arduino and cloudBit module to remotely keep tabs on the total amount of money deposited.


How it works is pretty simple. When a quarter is inserted into the bank, a flex sensor will bend, sending an input signal into the Arduino (ATmega32U4). On the output side of the Arduino, the Number module (ATmega168) instantly increments, the speaker begins to emit a “big bong” tune, and the cloudBit is activated. Through an IFTTT.com recipe, a line is added to a spreadsheet in Google Drive, wile a few formulas within the sheet tally how many line items have been added and multiply that number by 0.25 to derive at a total.


Much cooler than that old-school piggy bank, don’t you think? Want to make one of your own? Get started by heading to littleBits’ official project page here, and seeing it in action below.