RFID and unique physical form

Lisa Smith is a Masters of Design student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago / Designed objects. I first encountered her work through pictures of her project ‘Cuteness generator’ on Flickr. This looks like a lovely project dealing with many issues through visual, physical and interactional material.

One of the key aspects of the project for me is the translation of the unique identity of RFID into a unique physical form. Each object in the project has a visual appearance and shape that is generated uniquely for each user. This reflects the unique identity contained in the RFID chip. This is an interesting approach to the visual and physical affordances of RFID technology.

The object above (photo by Lisa Smith) is a rapid prototyped object that has a unique shape:

They’re designed to be artifacts for schoolkids (K-12) that slowly gather informational histories as the kids interact with each other and grow. It’s part of a larger project about turning a school and its artifacts into its own yearbook while also encouraging the development of criticality through annotation.

The unique form emerged from what looks like a parametric model that generates unique shapes:

The cuteness generator is a visual language for RFID. The project uses identity, legibility, and desirability in order to help us sort through the large amounts of information that can be represented by RFID and spatial annotation.

The forms are generated with a small piece of front end software, with partial control from the user (for example, there is a cuteness<->grossness slider, and they can specify the number of eyes, but the form is also linked to their age and other friends/family in the system, etc). It pulls from sticker/graffiti culture, urban toy culture, and also heraldry (allows for the visual expression of human relationships and room for a visual subculture to emerge in the system).

This project shows one way in which fundamentals of RFID technology such as uniqueness, identifiability, recognition and personalisation can be explored through visual and physical affordances.

Related things:

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  2. RFID form factors As our interaction design students get deeper into prototyping with RFID, we needed to start looking at the range of possibilities around the materials and forms of RFID tags. Last week we created a......
  3. Designing with RFID In Designing with RFID we explore the potential for RFID objects in everyday contexts. Because RFID is a wireless, radio-based technology it is inherently invisible once embedded, and this raises issues around visibility and......
  4. Two new articles on RFID interaction Touch project PhD researcher Kjetil Nordby has just published two journal articles on interactions with RFID and NFC. These articles pull together concepts from ubiquitous computing and HCI, integrated with high-level interaction design practice,......
  5. Thoughts on Nokia’s NFC developments On April 15th Nokia announced the 6212 ‘classic’ phone that incorporates Near Field Communication technology. This phone is the fourth NFC-capable phone from Nokia in as many years and it is the first NFC......

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One Comment

  1. Posted 22 February 2008 at 18:41 | Permalink

    This is fantastic work. I am thrilled to see a creative individualistic approach taken in the handling of this media. Reminds me of raindrops, snowflakes and fingerprints in their uniqueness. Truly we are still expanding on the generic model of physical hyperlink and this is evidence of it’s potential.

One Trackback

  1. By Playful augmented products · Touch on 13 February 2009 at 16:10

    [...] RFID and unique physical form [...]

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