Introduction: RFID Interface Cube - Touchatag Application Showcase Contest

UPDATE

As of October 2012, the Touchatag service is no longer available. All applications and links created with the service are consequently not working anymore ! I've been looking for an easy-to-use, out of the box replacement for some time now, to no avail for the time being. You can read the official company announcement on their website at http://store.touchatag.com/index.html

Technology in general has come a long way since this Instructable has been published : if you're looking for a replacement to this tutorial, I would suggest looking into technologies that do not necessarily components as complex as RFID tags, such as :

  • voice recognition
  • QR code recognition
  • object recognition

I will keep looking for interesting technologies to close the gap between people who need to reach out. In the meantime, I'm keeping this Instructable here for reference purposes. Enjoy !

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Since the Tikitag team has opened contest for users to showcase applications and uses of their Tikitag product. A perfect occasion to submit an easy way to get a quick and easy Tikitag demo project for those of you who just received their Tikitag starter pack and want to show off some : I give you Easy Tikitag Interface Cube ! Each side of this cube holds a different Tikitag and will trigger a different action on the user's computer.

This small project has been designed for people who have a hard time figuring out how to use use icons, keyboards, computer mice and need to regularly and easily access certain applications without much hassle. The first time the idea came up was when I was vacationing at my parents' and noticed my mother was still struggling with her computer because even after a few years it feels quite alien to her and, well, she won't bother learning how to use it correctly.

At the time, I was fiddling with affordable RFID technology (Tikitag as well as the Mir:ror from Violet) for other projects and thought she and others - older people, children who learn to use computers, or just straight geeks - could benefit from and enjoy such an intuitive interface as a more familiar physical object.

Now jump to the next page for the list of requirements !

Step 1: Requirements

For this project, needed :

- Tikitag starter pack
- A working computer and an account on Tikitag server
- 12 business cards (those I use are 130mm by 87mm)

When you're done ripping the plastic wrap off the starter pack, firing up your computer and creating your Tikitag account, then you can move on to the next step !

Step 2: Making the Cube - Part the First

We're going to start by making the cube using the business cards listed earlier, and on which we'll afix the Tikitags. This was inspired by Jeannine Mosely's Menger Sponge out of business cards (see the whole story here) - I designed a similar, smaller structure for my students last year, and using this method to build the cube came quite naturally. You can follow all the steps of the cube's construction on the pictures below.

First pick 2 cards and set them on top of each other, and perpendicularly to each other. The top one should be roughly middle bottom one, then crease along the sides of the top card. Repeat until all twelve cards are creased in the same manner.

Now we're going to use 6 cards for the outer faces of the cube - which will both give it a stronger overall structure and make it look better while allowing us to tell what each Tikitag on the faces of the cube does. You can simply write what each face will do, or paste pictures on the faces, or print the corresponding icons. If you'd rather choose this option, you could use icons from SVG icons - they resize to any dimension using open source program freeware like Inkscape. Once this is done, you can either stick (or tape, if you want to reuse it for a later project) a Tikitag to the back of each of these 6 cards and move on to the next step.

EDIT : I took some time to make a second version of the cube, much closer to a model than to origami. Break out the glue, scissors and click along for part 1, 2 and 3.

Step 3: Making the Cube - Part the Second

"They" says a picture is worth a thousand words, and "they" is very right. Follow the pictures below for a full description of how to put the cube together using the 12 cards - or watch the video below !


Step 4: Assigning Actions to Each Face of the Cube

Now that you're done with the "hardware" part of the project let's move on to the software part. Let's make sure that :
- The Tikitag reader's driver is installed ;
- The Tikitag reader is plugged in ;
- You have created a Tikitag account, and that your client as been configured accordingly.

If you're ready, then let's start creating applications for the cube ! You can peruse the pictures below for a step by step explanation on how to setup your first application using the Web Link application as a template for your own. Once you're done with the first one, create the other five using the same method.

Step 5: You're Done ! Now for More...

Once you've set up applications for all 6 faces of the cube, you're done ! All you need to do to trigger the applications now is touch the surface of the reader with the face featuring the application you want to trigger, as you can see in the video below. I hope you enjoyed this Instructable and that it'll come in handy to yourself or those around you !



Don't forget that the Web Link application is able to link to any file on your computer - and by any file I mean any, not just executable program files but also batch files - pre-configured series of instructions for your computer's programs - or documents, videos, links..The only limit is your imagination !

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