Ghost in the Machine

Posted by Ken Lynch on Thu, Oct 28, 2010 @ 01:44 PM

RFID and the "Magic" of Nearness

Touch Ghost IconIn the introductory post of our 100 Uses of RFID program, we discussed the fact that there are a growing number of innovative solutions where users and consumers can interact naturally with RFID and Sensor technology and where the technology is so integrated and transparent that it disappears into its environment.  This is also a primary theme of a blog post recently published by Touch - a research project that investigates Near Field Communication (NFC) and RFID technologies.

Using probes with LEDs that flash when an RFID tag is passed by a near-field reader, Touch conducted research to explore the visual and special aspects of RFID.  Capturing the path of the LED with long exposure photography and animation, Touch produced a compelling video that displays how the two objects are communicating with each other through the ‘magic’ of radio waves - creating an interesting ghost-like image!

Immaterials: the ghost in the field from timo on Vimeo.

Given that many aspects of RFID are fundamentally "invisible", Touch conducted their study to help them better understand the interactions that can be created with RFID and the ways it can be used inside products.  As they eloquently point out:

“…invisibility also offers opportunities: the lack of touch is an enormous usability and efficiency leap for many systems we interact with everyday (hence the success of Oyster, Suica and Octopus cards). But there is also the ‘magic’ of nearness one of the most compelling experiential aspects of RFID.”

Touch’s experiments were conducted to flesh out their own spatial and gestural models in part to help them understand the readable volume of RFID for the design of products like Sniff – an interactive child’s toy - Skål – a tabletop media player.

What experiments have you conducted to support the development of your RFID, NFC or Sensor-based products?  Feel free to share them with us and we’ll highlight them in a future 100 Uses of RFID post.

The RFID icon above is based on the shape of the "readable volume" within an RFID radio field. Created by Timo Arnall & Jack Schulze, it is licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Tags: RFID, NFC, Product Design

Subscribe by Email

Most Popular Posts

Browse by Tag

Ask the Experts 

Do you have a question about one of our products that you'd like us to answer on our Forum?

Post Your Question