Cover by Tom Igoe

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Chapter 9. Identification

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Sniff, a toy for sight-impaired children, by Sara Johansson

The dog’s nose contains an RFID reader. When he detects RFID-tagged objects, he gives sound and tactile feedback—a unique response for each object. Designed by Sara Johansson, a student in the Tangible Interaction course at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, under the instruction of tutors Timo Arnall and Mosse Sjaastad. Photo courtesy of Sara Johansson.

In the previous chapters, you assumed that identity equals address. Once you knew a device’s address on the network, you started talking. Think about how disastrous this would be if you used this formula in everyday life: you pick up the phone, dial a number, and just start talking. What if you dialed the wrong number? What if someone other than the person you expected answers the phone?

Networked objects mark the boundaries of networks, but not of the communications that travel across them. We use these devices to send messages to other people. The network identity of the device and the physical identity of the person are two different things. Physical identity generally equates to presence (is it near me?) or address (where is it?), but network identity also takes into consideration network capabilities of the device and the state it’s in when you contact it. In this chapter, you’ll learn some methods for giving physical objects network identities. ...

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