MM Blog: RFID 'Smart' Paper

A look at how researchers combine RFID tags with paper to add smart functionality.

Researchers at the University of Washington, Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research have created what they call PaperID, which combines cheap, off-the-shelf RFID tags with paper. The tags don’t require batteries to function, and each tag has a unique identifier that only requires a reader in order to identify each one individually. Users interact with the tags by disturbing the signal path between the tag and reader by covering, swiping or waving a hand in front of the tag, while the system uses custom algorithms to know how the signal is being disrupted to carry out the command.

Tags can be purchased for about 10 cents, drawn or stenciled with conductive ink or even printed with silver nanoparticle ink to create anything from an on/off switch to sliders allowing for practically endless the real world uses. Researcher Alanson Sample says "Ultimately, these techniques can be extended beyond paper to a wide range of materials and usage scenarios. What's exciting is that PaperID provides a new way to link the real and virtual world through low-cost and ubiquitous gesture interfaces.”


Can you see this low-tech taking off? What opportunities in manufacturing could utilize this idea? 

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