Here’s an external display meant to help you keep track of your computer’s status. It connects via USB and is driven by a PIC microcontroller. It listens for a small set of commands, using those to implement a simple control protocol to drive the screen.
[Andrew Gehringer] designed the device around a PIC 18F2550, which offers native USB control. He’s using Microchip’s USB stack to enumerate the module as an HID device. It listens for commands 0x10 through 0x23. These clear the display, write strings to each of the four lines of the display, and switch the LCD backlight. Of course the project includes a program [Andrew] wrote to feed the display. It has a GUI which let’s him decide what information is displayed and how it is formatted. This helper app hangs out in the system tray for easy access.