PUBLISHED March 7, 2009

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Social Networking Your Whole Environment.
I ask, “Would you need to log into your car? Or your dishwasher?” You would reply, “Maybe..it depends on what I can do once I log in.”

With the continued integration and advances of Web 2.0 – which is defined as creating social conventions and social contexts online through the use of software and technology – it is only natural to begin the process of exploring how we can more efficiently use these tools to manage our connections with the network.

Thinking ahead, Web 3.0 will be all about reducing the “clutter” of our online lives. How would this be accomplished using the PIC32 while at the same time, allowing for the expansion of social computing applications that will continue to thrive?

This project aims to embed social computing into objects, products, and services that contribute to the individual’s modern comfort or need. By using the PIC32 as an HTTP web server, the embedded web can be accessed by the user/owner of these products and services. Using available, open-source, web-based utilities and tools, the user can gain ultimate control and reporting irregardless of the individual’s physical location. A standard web-based interface allows access and authentication from any network-enabled platform. Objects can now have their own IP addresses, email accounts, or back-end database. Using the PIC32 to manage this allows objects to be customized further to display everything from operating conditions to RSS feeds. My project will implement this idea in one or two working products that can be accessed from the Internet for the purpose of demonstrating proof-of-concept.

In this project, the term “Social Network” means creating access to things by a broader range of authorized users and applications. The ability of an object to deliver information or accept input from other appliances or services will provide the owner with added functionality that makes an object more useful or interesting.

What are some “things” that could be socially networked?

Appliances and utilities that operate in the home
Key products that the individual uses daily and wants access to throughout the day.
Changing variables – things that are not equal day to day.. (eg. mail delivery, house temperature)
Factors out of the individual’s control.

What this project is NOT: This project does not try to be another home automation system. Because many well-developed programs and systems are already available, this project could be more accurately described as a “plug-in” for a master HA system or simply a stand-alone application. I intend to develop this system as something that could be equated as an open API for other devices and third-party integration.

Why: Why have the ability to view HTTP documents and forms on devices in your home? Why “log into” your car? Or your plants? Good question! Answer: It has to do with building not only a controlled network identity but also a need or desire to acquire and aggregate the online environment that one chooses to participate in. Once the network has been configured and linked, it can be either made public or kept private. If public, the network can be shared, much like an RSS feed or profile, through various other sites and applications (Friendfeed, Twitter, Facebook, Jott, etc).

Using the PIC32 as an HTTP Server, and allowing it to support multiple connections, authentication, and dynamic content, is a first step in creating a unified digital application that is not only informative and useful to its owner, but eventually tied to a global network of similar objects and services that could be used as a back-up, or fail-safe system similar to a power gird. Information exchanged through a system like this could give the network administrator/owner the ability to gage a product’s life cycle, need for replacement, or re-freshing. It really has some far-reaching potential!

Using this web-enabled capability as part of an advanced social network gives the owner complete control over every single device and object in a configurable, real-time, continually adjustable, and globally-connected timeline. And, let’s be honest, it is great for showing off to friends!

REFERENCES:

AN 1107  An HTTP Server Using BSD Socket API by Sean Justice

AN1204  Microchip MiWi P2P Wireless Protocol   by Yifeng Yang

AN1066  MiWi Wireless Networking Protocol Stack by David Flowers and Yifeng Yang

MRF24J40 Data Sheet – IEEE 802.15.4™ 2.4 GHz RF Transceiver

AN1108  Microchip TCP/IP Stack with BSD Socket API for PIC32MX by Abdul Rafiq

AN731   Embedding PICmicro Microcontroller in the Internet by Rodger Richey and Steve Humberd