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 whatever you like. The tagged objects, when placed on the reader, can then trigger certain actions on your PC. Examples include opening a specific web page or a software application.
There are a range of pre-built applications, as well as an API for developers. Pre-built applications include opening a specific website, calling a user on Skype, or opening a media player. Obviously, the system is as limited as your imagination, however – you could build an app which tracks whether someone is sat in a chair or not, or stick tags to your business cards which launch your LinkedIn profile.
There’s a lot of potential, but the biggest limiting factor is the availability of readers. If I were to stick one on my business card, then it’s highly unlikely that the person who I gave it to would own an RFID reader to actually use the thing. Apparently, within the next few years, mobile phones will start showing up with RFID reading tech in, but in the meantime, QR codes seem like a much easier way to do the same thing.
I’m absolutely stuck for ideas of useful things that I could do with this. Stick a code to the bottom of my mug so that when I get a cup of tea, Digg will automatically open and I can waste some time? Attach them to my top ten albums so that I can play the album by just tapping it on a scanner? Both of which seem like remarkably complex ways to do very simple things.
If you can think of anything useful I could do with one scanner and ten tags, then let me know in the comments. I want to use this kit – I just can’t think for the life of me what for.