Connect an iPhone/iPad to External Sensors with HiJack and techBASIC

techBASIC (AppStore Link)
User Reviews
Developer: Byte Works, Inc.
Price: $14.99 Download on the App Store
HiJack for iPhone

This simple HiJack project takes input from a potentiometer and plots the result using techBASIC.

Now there's an easy and powerful way to connect external devices to the iPhone/iPad using techBASIC and HiJack. techBASIC is a BASIC programming language that runs right on the iPhone/iPad. HiJack is an A-D converter that plugs into the headphone jack on the same devices. techBASIC makes it easy to manipulate data and plot the results from HiJack, creating a powerful tool to collect information from almost any external device without the need to write software first on a desktop computer.

Scientists, engineers, students and hobbyists now have a way to connect the iPhone and iPad to the outside world, collect information and process it right on their iPhone or iPad. The HiJack project from the University of Michigan, with participation from the University of Utah, created a hardware and software platform to do just that. HiJack is designed to create cubic inch peripherals that connect through the headphone jack on an iPhone or iPad. It can even use the audio output from the headphone to provide up to 7.4 mW of power to the external device. Several devices have already been built, including an EKG monitor, a soil moisture sensor, and an Oscilloscope. 

Until now, though, any software developed for HiJack had to be written in Objective C, compiled on a Macintosh, and distributed through the App store. This complicated process has a steep learning curve, and creates a high entry barrier for anyone who wants to write HiJack software.

techBASIC removes this hurdle. Accessing the HiJack hardware from techBASIC is literally as simple as value = HiJack.receive

There are other commands that provide more control, but that's all it really takes. From there, the information can be processed in BASIC. The simple techBASIC programming language and environment were designed from the ground up to help scientists and engineers develop applications right on the iPhone, collect data from sensors, and display the data on interactive graphs. The BASIC language in techBASIC evolved from the one originally designed at Dartmouth for people without a deep background in computer science. It is similar to the popular Visual BASIC, but has matrix commands for scientific programming.

While the built-in help system may be adequate for most people, there is also a full color 200 page reference manual and a brief Quick Start guide available for download at the Byte Works' web site. These are available without buying the program, so anyone can check out the capabilities before buying. Promotional codes are available for qualified reviewers.

HiJack was created at the University of Michigan for creating cubic-inch sensor peripherals for mobile phones. HiJack can harvest power and use bandwidth from the headphone interface. The HiJack hardware is available from Seeed Studio. Documentation for the HiJack hardware is available from the University of Michigan web site.

techBASIC 1.1 is $14.99 (USD) and is available worldwide in the App Store Utilities category. The HiJack development kit is available from Seeed Studio for $79.00 (USD)

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