The Consumer Electronics show, the behemoth of tech, the Valhalla of gadgetry, has come and gone for yet another year. But this time, rather than arriving with a bang, it slinked into sight with something more like a whimper. CES…
There are condom machines in the toilets of the British Music Experience at the O2 in Greenwich. I’ve no idea why – perhaps they think their visitors will be overwhelmed with emotion after seeing Ziggy Stardust’s ‘Thin White Duke’ outfit, or Dave Hill’s “Superyob” guitar. But in actual fact, it’s gadget fanatics that are likely to be the ones excited, because the BME is one of the most gadget-filled museums in the UK.
Almost everything in the museum is interactive. Your ticket comes equipped with an RFID tag that you wave in front of exhibits that interest you. These are logged in a central database, and after your visit you can go to the BME website and view all the exhibits that you looked at online.
There’s also the option to play along on real instruments with songs you know, or record a video of yourself dancing to one of several famous historical dances. That content will be stored and can also be viewed on the website later on, so you can share your embarrassment with people across the world. You get three free iTunes downloads too, to further investigate music that you don’t know very well.
Although it’s a great and well-connected experience, and anyone remotely interested in popular music since 1945 will find something interesting, there’s an ever so slight sense of a lack of use of the technology to its full effect. The tagging system is great, but it’d be nice to be able to explore extra content from home, rather than just reviewing the content you saw.
It’d also be great if you could do more with your recordings, getting the content out of the website. For copyright reasons, it’s impossible to do anything but stream the recording you make in the ‘Gibson Studio’ section. The British Music experience is technologically ahead of any other museum in London, but it’s still got unrealised potential.
Chris Paget isn’t a hacker, but he’s got the means to clone the RFID chip in your passport. Think of it as him doing you a favour. Using $250 of off-the-shelf components, Chris built a machine to sniff and clone RFID tags. During a 20-minute drive in downtown San Francisco, he managed to copy two passports completely unbeknownst to their owners.
Paget claims he only built it to show that it’s possible:
“It’s one thing to say that something can be done, it’s another thing completely to actually do it. It’s mainly to defeat the argument that you can’t do it in the real world, that there’s no real-world attack here, that it’s all theoretical.”
For a video of the device in action, click over the jump.
RFID – or radio frequency identification – is a technology that allows identification and tracking of things. A small tag is placed on an object, and a reader can then recognise that tag as unique. For a while it’s been used by businesses for stock control, or by zoologists to track animals, but now a company called Tikitag is selling an RFID kit that you can use at home.
The Tikitag starter kit contains an RFID reader, which attaches to your PC via USB, and ten sticky tags which you can attach to things. The things, when placed on the reader, can then trigger certain actions on your PC. Examples include opening a specific web page or a software application.
It’s probably one of the oldest dilemmas mankind have faced. You need to get your guns from your gun cabinet, but you just can’t be bothered to put in the combination and waste precious seconds when you could be wasting precious people instead.
As luck would have it, one inventor has come up with an ingenious solution: chipping himself with an RFID chip, so he only has to wave his hands in front of the safe to open it.
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