iButtons – miniaturising the monitoring of building environments

I am experimenting with a Maxim iButton with a view to incorporating the device into our new computing degree in Smart Sustainable Energy Curriculum in Tipperary Institute.
The iButton is a computer chip enclosed in a 16mm thick stainless steel can. Because of this unique and durable container, up-to-date information can travel with a person or object anywhere they go. The steel iButton can be mounted virtually anywhere because it is rugged enough to withstand harsh environments, indoors or outdoors. It is small and portable enough to attach to a key fob, ring, watch, or other personal items, and be used daily for applications such as access control to buildings and computers, asset management, and various data logging tasks.”

The unit is the size of a watch battery and slightly bigger as you can see above it is smaller than a 20 cent coin.

Application development is supported through Java APIs and a number of other options.

There are four components fundamental to any iButton application:

  • iButtons
  • A host system: this can be a PC, a laptop, a handheld computer, or an embedded system.
  • A reader/writer device to get information into and out of the button. This can be the Blue Dot, a pen-style probe, or a handheld device.
  • A layer of software to interface iButtons to computers and produce the desired information in the desired format. Several software development kits (SDKs) are downloadable from this site at no charge. For a list of SDKs and links to download, see this page. We also offer 1-Wire Drivers for Microsoft platforms, along with the OneWireViewer, a demo application that can read/write/exercise any iButton.

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