Friday, January 2, 2009

RFID Facebook Updater

I have an RFID reader I bought from and 5 credit card style RFID cards. The reader is hooked up to my Gumstix small PC via serial.

I have two PHP scripts running on the Gumstix. One continuously monitors the RFID reader to see if there has been a card read and it writes that value to a file. The other script is the actual Facebook application that picks up the RFID tag value and lines it up with statuses I have assigned the different cards.

Anyway, very cool to learn how to use RFID and write a very simple Facebook application. In a broader application, this does show that you can "hardware-enable" Facebook so that you could have statuses, new stories, messages generated by a variety of different "real-world" events. This could be a home alarm system or just your plants saying they need to be watered.

While it is possible to generate these kinds of messages through other means (email, SMS etc), Facebook offers a reasonably comprehensive framework for authentication & messaging and a more-or-less documented API.

Here is a shot of the updater & my Gumstix:

And here is a diagram:

I have pretty much stopped work on this as my Arduino-based stuff has come back to the fore front. Some of the things I would like to do with this are:
  • Have the status messages stored in a SQL database so they can be updated more easily (currently they are hardcoded into the PHP script for the FB application).
  • Have a "remote reader" with an Arduino & an Xbee radio so your status can be updated anywhere in the house.
  • Think about how to scale this up so multiple people could use the application. How would it be hosted, how to architect the reader (Arduino with Xport Ethernet, maybe?). Would there be a demand for a Facebook "hardware add-on"?

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