Plug and play RFID-reading USB peripherals are all the rage, as indicated by a stream of recent product announcements. These readers plug into a PC and make various things happen when they are touched with an RFID tag.
RFID readers are small and cheap, encapsulating them in packaging and offering a standard USB interface makes for a versatile product. What we need to see now is some applications and platforms that make these products useful and desirable.
Designed as a commercially available product, similar to the Nabaztag rabbit, the Mir:ror is intended to allow physical objects to work with online services. “Violet was inspired by a simple fact: the rift between the virtual world – everything happening on the other side of your computer screen – and the physical world we live in is growing, and growing fast.”
Tikitag is offering a small, cheap USB reader that plugs into any computer with compatible drivers “Tikitag is an Alcatel-Lucent Venture based in Antwerp, Belgium which provides a service to link the real world with the online world.”
The Bowl was created as part of the Touch project and designed to be an object that wouldn’t look out of place in the living room. “The Bowl is a simple media player that can be used by people of all ages, particularly young children. A bowl sits on the living room table and range of physical objects can be placed within it. When an object is placed in the bowl related media is played back on the TV.”
ThingM has been developing RFID-driven interfaces in their WineM concept for a while, and they have developed a smaller, USB version finished in wood.
Aimed more towards the high-end, for custom installations in retail environments, “the Airtag reader is a contactless reader for point of sale (POS). Easy to install it can be plugged to any cashier system, or standalone for smart poster.”
RFID mon amour
For the sake of completeness, this was perhaps the first commercially available plug-and-play RFID prototyping platform. “Rfid mon amour 1.0 is a kit for designers, artists and architects, which allows the realization of interactive exhibitions in a very simple manner, without any specific knowledge of programming or electronics. The kit comes with an USB based RFID player, Mac OS X compatible software, 10 RFID tags and some sample videos.”