Making a Printer for Totem

Wouldn’t it be great to link any object directly to a ‘video memory’ or an article of text describing its history or background?

That’s one of the provocations behind TOTeM, a research project exploring social memory in the emerging culture of the Internet of Things. As part of this, we are making a portable printing/stamping machine that will be able to leave a temporary QR code on any surface. The aim is to print these tags from your phone, and be able to read tags that you find with your phone, linking you back to the author’s video or text memory to do with the object or place.

In practice this is a not inconsiderable mechanical challenge, as I am oft reminded by Mike, but we’ve made good headway with a solenoid test rig (pictured above) and some custom marker-based print heads. It’s messy work. Ultimately, the printer will use the headphone socket of the phone as an output to the printer, the same method that Apple Karts used to control motors.

You can already contribute your memories and get printable tags at talesofthings.com .

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