Library Shelves that tell you where the books were shelved

Today @reilytech and I were at the space and – after hanging a fresh whiteboard (progress!) – we sketched out a technical system that would allow books to tell you where they are on the library shelves.


  • Put some UHF rfid stickers on the inside cover of books.

  • Set up just enough UHF sensors (probably 5?) to be able to triangulate where the books are in space.

  • Set up a terminal next to the library with an interface that lets you search for books.

I’m just getting this all in here to kick off more concrete thinking about the project and keep track of material details (e.g. what RFID reader we might get). We’re open to having other people join us on this.

:books: :books: :books:


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I liked your ideas about how to place the wiring against the walls, @reilytech, such that the whole thing feels kinda magical.

The one downside to this is that it would mean we have to make this system before we build the shelves. Gating the buildout of the shelves, which we need as a dependency of the entire space becoming more inhabitable, on the creation of an electronic book tracking system that is a “nice to have” is not necessarily great project management. :smiley:

We should give ourselves maybe 2-3 weeks to see if we can proof-of-concept the part of the project neither you nor I have done before: the UHF triangulation.

Imma see if I can pull in someone as a consultant who’s probably thought about this stuff a lot more than I have…

I read that light might be too fast to work in this tiny space of the bookshelf. perhaps signal strength may be a better method. our bookshelf is about 6 meters and light travels at 299,792,458 meters per second. according to python 2.7 that would mean measuring timescales less than 0.020013845711889122 microseconds. cheap computers might not be able to measure something that fast.

we can just leave a space behind the shelf maybe.

also found this:

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First off we definitely ain’t using python 2.7 :smiley: Probably more like 3.8.

Signal strength seems messy. I wonder if that will work? I get your point of course, I just think this is yet another place where Arduinos will win over RPis.

relay@LAIN:~$ python
Python 2.7.17 (default, Feb 27 2021, 15:10:58)
[GCC 7.5.0] on linux2
Type “help”, “copyright”, “credits” or “license” for more information.

lol maybe python3 updated math

srsly though. send a signal out with one sender/reciever. the other sender/recievers are on standby might in some way be helpful if we record what they recieve from the sender and the nearby books or pick up fainter, more distant signals for the calculation.

no expert in RFID, but I think this may be helpful

rfid directional.pdf (610.6 KB)

Yeah you’re gonna need to fix that… :laughing: Python 2.7 was officially retired in Dec 2020.

helpful organizational paradigm for your consideration → Theory - Why Hexagons 1

So drew this a while back when I saw the earthquake supports in the library room.

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I love it!
Hope that is not violating building code. It would be funny to see the books lobbed like that.