Posts Tagged ‘ sensors ’

Sensor Walk

In Sensor Workshop we had to do another Sensor Walk like we did in Physical Computing which is walk around and notice any sensors around you. I didn’t have to go far as I found myself having a sensor right in front of me at work.

It’s the RFID by HID. HID is an enterprise class provider of security ID solutions for large instituitions and in this case NYU. NYU transitioned to the RFID system this year requiring all employees and students to get a new ID. The previous ID method used was the magnetic strip which is still on the current system. I’ve been issued these ID’s before for my parking priveldges at work and access pass for areas at work.

At first people didn’t know what to do with them thus causing wuite a buildup at the entrance of Bobst Library during the initial rollout in the fall of 2011.

These RFIDs are running on proprietary software and hardware which makes them unfriendly to hobbyists or for the normal ITP crowd. These RFIDs are secure in a way that it has to authenticate to a central server in order to get information and decide whether or not to allow access. Each system is customized per client. But the sensor itself can read a variety of systems just as long as the system has been configured to accept it.

The particular one in Bobst Library is located in this Sensor Report at the ITP Sensor Wiki. In short, fellow ITPers don’t bother trying to get information off the RFID. You won’t get it without the key. You’l have better luck with the magnetic strip at the back.

Max Sonar EZ1 critique

In the Sensor Workshop class, I was paired with Mark Breneman to find, update, edit, and critique a sensor report already posted in the ITP wiki as a guide for the ITP community. We chose the MaxSonar EZ-1 sensor form Maxbotix.

Most of the codes posted are based on PBASIC and must be translated to Arduino C since most of ITP uses the Arduino microntroller for our projects. Will edit the wiki further before Wednesday and add links to pictures and diagrams.

What are the sensors in my neighborhood?

This weekend while taking the subway I noticed a number of physical sensors that I didn’t notice before.


This particular button is not common in New York well at least I haven’t seen much of it in Manhattan. But pressing this button will tell the traffic signal light that there is a pedestrian who wants to cross and the light will change shortly afterward. But then again, it could be a placebo effect, giving the user the illusion that the light will change soon but in reality, it’ll change when the program tells it to change.


Here’s a light that doesn’t have a sensor but in my opinion needs one. I see three different sensors that could work here. One is light sensor, which would tell the streetlight to turn off once it detects a particular amount of light (supposedly sunlight) to detrmine it’s on and off. Another is solar panels so it’s not too bad that the light is on all the time since the light is powered by solar energy. Then the third sensor would be the exisiting sensor which is based on time. Much like water sprinkers, these are set on a timer where the on and off is determined by a timer on the switch.


The Metrocard machine is a plethora of sensors. There are the input buttons on the touchscreen. There’s the numeric keypad for credit card and debit card holders to enter their information. The coin and bill sensors that determine US legal tender is being inserted into the machine. The braile pads that help the blind in getting their passes. And then of course the Metrocard slot where the machine either accepts or dispenses the card and reads how much is left on the card.


Of course what’s a Metrocard without the sensor that you use it on. Other cities such as Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong and London use RFID cards instead of the magnetic strip that the NYC transit system uses. I first used the Metrocard in 2002. I was used to the tokens all this time that it took a while to figure out which direction the magnetic swipe had to be for it to work.


I’m not sure if it can be seen here but I suspect the subway is outiftted with all sorts of sensors. Most of it detecting the position of the trains. This particular sensor at the station, I guess that sensor tells all the other trains along the line that there is a train present at this station and informs the other stations down the line with the announcement ” There is a Manhattan bound train one station station away.”

I saw this at church today. This emergency light has an electrical sensor. In the event of a power outage, these lights turn on.


These exterior lights can be switched to detect motion in the event someone walks in front of the range of the sensor. This is great at night so you don’t have the light on all the time.


At the MOMA there is this device. Though not part of the installation but still has the “do not touch” warning next to it, I could guess that thsese are motion sensors that detects the presence of someone in front of the display. This is only present on displays that use a monitor and will then play the video once there’s a person in front of the display.



The displays are each identified with QR codes which directly links the viewer to a website with more information about the artwork. Of course in order to read this, your smartphone should have a QR reader.

Barcodes on everything is no different. These help stores and companies track inventory as well as make purchases accurate and efficient at the checkout counter.

If I see anything more before Wednesday, I’ll update this post.