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Carnegie Mellon and Disney Develop RFID Tagging for Real-Time Interactivity

The signals from radio-frequency identification tags can make physical objects interactive.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research have developed a new technique and a system that processes simple radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to make them suitable for use in games, physical interfaces and other interactive objects.

RFID tags are normally used for inventory control or to read luggage tags, but the new technique makes it possible to sense movement or touch in real time, according to information from the university. Typically, passive RFID tags transmit an identifying code when they are energized by radio frequency waves from an RFID reader, but these take a while to provide responses.

As a solution, the teams created a new system, “RapID,” that can sense if an object is being moved or touched by using low-cost RFID tags that recognize movement in under 200 milliseconds. With RapID, users won’t need to wait on a confirmation because the system interprets the signals by weighing the possibilities.

The RFID tags cost less than a dime apiece, and can be applied to many objects, including those made from paper or other craft material.

“You can create interactive objects that are essentially disposable and perhaps even recyclable,” said Scott Hudson, professor in Carnegie Mellon’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute, in a prepared statement.

The team demonstrated RapID with a toy spaceship, a Tic-Tac-Toe application and an audio control board. RapID can also be used to create interactive storybooks.

“By making it easy to add RFID-based sensing to objects, RapID enables the design of new, custom interactive devices with a very fast development cycle,” said Alanson Sample, a research scientist at Disney Research.

Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research will present their method at the Association for Computer Machinery’s Conference on Human Factors in Computing this May.

A video demonstration for the RapID system is available on YouTube.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].

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