iPhone RFID: object-based media

This is a video prototype of an iPhone media player that uses physical objects to control media playback. It is based on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) that triggers various iPhone interactions when in the range of a wireless tag embedded inside a physical object.

RFID is becoming more common in mobile phones (under the term Near Field Communication or NFC) from manufacturers such as Nokia. By looking at Apple’s patents we know that the technology is being considered for the iPhone. With the iPhone SDK 3.0 external hardware accessories can be accessed by iPhone software, so third party RFID or NFC readers are also possible.

So what kinds of applications would emerge if an iPhone had an NFC reader? Here we have prototyped a simple media player, which triggers the playback of content on the touch of a tag, and created a set of augmented objects that have relationships to different kinds of audiovisual content.

A lens for media

Compared to other mobile handsets the iPhone is a particularly media-friendly device, with a large, bright screen and high quality audiovisual playback. What if this screen could act as a ‘lens’ to content that resides in the world?

iphone-rfid-nfc-41

In a screen-based interface content may be buried many levels deep inside an information architecture. But in a physical RFID-driven interface a simple gesture can offer quick and direct access to content. Physical objects afford tangible manipulation that screens cannot, and this is great for playful products. Our Bowl prototype showed a natural blending of media consumption and playful activitiy in children, where media viewing became less passive and a more active experience.

Durrell Bishop has discussed these ideas in a more general way, what if objects were augmented with new properties, that can be perceived through an iPhone lens?

Media objects

In this video demo, the objects have been chosen to physically or visually represent the content. There are some obvious relationships, such as the Moomin figure leading to a favourite episode of a Moomin animation. The less obvious relationships such as the wooden house leading to home videos were chosen because they just somehow felt right. In fact the exact relationship may be of secondary importance, as over time the behaviour of the physical and digital objects becomes known and transparent through exploration and repetition.

iphone-rfid-nfc-3

Some of the objects felt particularly satisfying. The Make Podcast object for instance—where touching the ‘geek’ plays the latest ‘Weekend project’— shows how an object can be used for exploring a dynamic stream of content.

Going further

This video prototype is basic and intended to open up for discussion and new exploration around the experience of media selection through physical objects. At the moment the interaction is a trigger, but what if the phone doesn’t just react as output but also as input to physical objects? How do we programme and manage our sets of media and applications in these objects?

Overall this points towards opportunities around the distribution of media through physical objects, it is an example of general ideas around an ‘internet of things’ or ‘spimes’ applied to the world of media. What opportunities would the distribution of RFID-embedded products open up in terms of media, gaming, services and marketing? What does this mean for the future of products?

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

120 Responses to iPhone RFID: object-based media

  1. Ole 14 April 2009 at 21:46 #

    This is really cool. Did you build the NFC reader or is it available for sale? Any info would be great.

    Thanks!

  2. Marco 14 April 2009 at 21:48 #

    Sounds very symbolic table—http://www.mediamatic.net/page/11344/en

  3. Martin 15 April 2009 at 11:57 #

    Does this have anything to do with the touch-a-tag project?

    The reader seems to be being used in exactly the same way.

  4. loic 15 April 2009 at 15:19 #

    Hello,

    Really intersting,

    I m interesed about devlopping a ticketing application for NFC mobile phone. I am currently working on nokia but it would be great to use a iphone for demonstration:)

    Can you tell me a little more about the nfc adapter and how to use it?

    Thanks a lot:)

    Loic

  5. kP 15 April 2009 at 16:31 #

    Question: Is the Reader powered by the iPhone or does it have it’s own battery?

  6. leeander 15 April 2009 at 21:55 #

    It is a great example. Congratulations to Timo and the team.

  7. Martin Killmann 16 April 2009 at 6:30 #

    Very interesting. Considering that shops, supermarkets and department stores now have RFID tags in more and more items, this leads to interesting applications.
    – Quick shopping list
    Just touch that empty milk package with your phone, and it is added to the shopping list.
    – Product information
    Touch an item in the store to identify it. This information can be used for a general google search, product information on the maker website, a consumer information site, sites of environmentalist groups, or price comparison.
    – Animal identification
    Number tags for wild or released animals are replaced with RFID. Researchers in the field can read an animal’s RFID tag and access information about it on their mobile phone. Also works for cattle ranches, horse breeders etc.

  8. zenona 16 April 2009 at 13:15 #

    Hej, maybe you already know, but TUAW wrote about your prototype.

    Cool stuff! ;)

  9. Rolf 16 April 2009 at 15:08 #

    All this will get really interesting when the RFID chip can trigger the iPhone to show content originating from the products manufacturer – or advertising company if you will – instead of content already residing on the iPhone. I’m talking things like infomercials here, that people actually trigger themselves ;-)

  10. Lucas 16 April 2009 at 15:14 #

    This is something us iPhone enthusiasts have been dreaming about for a while over in our office! Imagine the possibilities when coupled with the creative minds in the app store.

    It will be very interesting to follow this one, if you guys need any help with soucring hardware give us a call at Smartcard Focus.

    You mention that NFC is being considered for inclusion by apple, are there any leads on this one?

  11. Nirav Shah 17 April 2009 at 0:30 #

    Where is the reader?
    Is this a concept or a prototype?
    – Nirav

  12. popo 6 May 2009 at 15:57 #

    It’s a very wonderful experience. What kind of NFC reader is it? Who makes it? Is it available for sale?
    Thank you in advance for your answer

  13. Marion 1 July 2009 at 17:49 #

    Did you answer somewhere the question about the NFC reader ?
    Does the user need to activate the reader or can it be “waken up” just when passing close to the RFID tag ?

  14. InTheNews 17 July 2009 at 15:26 #

    Current versions of iPhones are Bluetooth enabled and thus compatible with BlueNFC. Don’t forget it !

  15. Murat 2 October 2009 at 20:16 #

    How about NFC enabled TV and Radios?

    http://mobileinc.co.uk/2009/09/concepting-nfc-enabled-tv-radio-for-mobile-advertising/

    I found this video very helpful. Great post.

  16. Peter Stanley 23 October 2009 at 18:44 #

    Help I can’t find an RFID system that is feasible for my customers! Can you help me?

  17. Tom Mulligan 28 October 2009 at 12:04 #

    Hi,

    Great concept, can you forward any additional information with regard to the RFID reader itself? e.g. how can one get one or how could one build one?

    Thanks,
    Tom

  18. andy 6 November 2009 at 19:38 #

    The most logic application of RFID that comes to my mind is a online service where you can purchase tickets for different events (concerts, cinema, etc) and then enter the venue of your choice with the iPhone, sending RFID signals to a reader

  19. Steven HT Wong 7 February 2010 at 21:31 #

    For consumers to adopt NFC-based applications they are going to need to get more than they give. This prototype demonstrates how NFC could operate as a trigger for a compelling experience, but that the NFC technology itself would not be the center of the application.

    What other killer apps are out there brewing?

    http://stevenhtwong.blogspot.com/2010/01/nfc-marketing-strategies-what-is-first.html

  20. Rico 14 March 2010 at 21:26 #

    This is really cool. I’m looking for a NFC or RFID reader for my i phone (3G 16go) and also the software. Do you know where and how to buy one ? (I’m french). This is really urgent !
    beforehand I thank you.
    Bests regards !

  21. Sebastiaan Jans 10 April 2010 at 11:12 #

    Nice…

    A museum visit, a walk in the park, .... could be nicer for students…

    Very interested in the topic.

    Regards
    S

  22. Bob 20 July 2010 at 10:47 #

    F@%K THE CHIP!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7Dr6poEl_0

  23. jason 15 November 2010 at 9:35 #

    If you want to use iPhone to do the RFID and NFC application of iCarte, please don’t hesitate to contact me. jason.feng@wongswec.com

  24. izico 25 November 2010 at 7:08 #

    I’m designing a general RFID/NFC device for use on both mobile phones (Bluetooth interface) and desktop (USB interface).

    If things goes well, it’ll begin manufacturing from next Q2.

    RFID reader is just one function of this device, it will support all the functions of 13.56MHz RFID/NFC standards.

    Android will be my first mobile platform to support, if the feedback is good, I’ll support the iPhone platform later.

  25. Chris Yip 29 July 2011 at 10:48 #

    Dears,

    Pls help to advise the manufacturer or supplier of this NFC/RFID reader for iphone as posted, Can it support to iPAD too ? I want to apply this device for Event Management.

    Thanks in advnace.

    Best regards,

  26. mc 13 July 2014 at 2:39 #

    What opportunities would the distribution of RFID-embedded products open up in terms of media, gaming, services and marketing? What does this mean for the future of products?

    100% of Monitoring about consumers profile !!!

  27. Ahmed 11 September 2014 at 22:12 #

    Hi, I am interested in buying the iPhone RFID object-based media toolkit. I want to know the price and how much time it takes to be shipped to Canada?
    Regards.

  28. Ivy 17 September 2014 at 21:40 #

    Any chance of the RFID technology for IPhone to eventually be able to read all frequencies? If yes, any idea when that might happen?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Heavyset » Macrotrends 2010-2012: Social Behaviors in Retail Environments - 21 October 2009

    [...] more intriguing when paired with technologies that respond to RFID chips, such as those explored by Touch: At the moment the interaction is a trigger, but what if the phone doesn’t just react as output [...]

  2. Two recent RFID projects linking tagged objects with web-based content/video - TOTeM - 28 October 2009

    [...] 0 Comments | Posted by admin in Uncategorized http://www.nearfield.org/2009/04/iphone-rfid-nfc [...]

  3. Geruchten: iPhone-prototypes met RFID en 8 GB iPhone 3GS - iPhone - iPhoneclub.nl - 6 November 2009

    [...] Boy Genius Report (goedkope 8 GB iPhone 3GS), NFC World (RFID) en NearField.org (video [...]

  4. NEWS: VIDEO: Apple prototyping RFID iPhones? | Tech Blog - 6 November 2009

    [...] The embedded video above is from the Touch Project’s iPhone RFID Demonstration – it’s not an Apple [...]

  5. Lionel Tardy blog » Blog Archive » Après l’écrit (Flashcode), les objets (RFID) - 6 November 2009

    [...] en savoir plus (anglais) Partagez ce billet avec votre réseau : [...]

  6. RFID-Equipped iPhone « Nothing to Hide? - 6 November 2009

    [...] Touch is a research project that investigates and develops applications and services that enable people to interact with everyday objects and situations through their mobile devices. They have the following video, amongst others posted on their article ‘iPhone RFID: object-based media’. [...]

  7. Rumor: Next generation iPhone to be RFID enabled - 6 November 2009

    [...] [More information about the video] Share this: [...]

  8. Jowan Dijkhuis » Gerucht: iPhone-prototypes met RFID - 6 November 2009

    [...] Touch Project video [Nearfield.org] [...]

  9. Erneute Hinweise auf RFID in der nchsten iPhone-Generation - Mobile | News | ZDNet.de - 6 November 2009

    [...] [...]

  10. Apple testing RFID-enabled iPhone? | NW0.eu - 7 November 2009

    [...] And here’s the Touch Project’s iPhone RFID demonstration [...]

  11. iPhone RFID and NFC peripherals - 19 November 2009

    [...] peripherals beginning to be released for the iPhone. Since our conceptual video prototype of the iPhone object-based media came out in April, we’ve had thousands of emails requesting details about such a peripheral. [...]

  12. » iPhone + RFID - 25 November 2009

    [...] TIMO 的 project,利用 iPhone 結合了 RFID,把 iPhone 當成 RFID Reader,而將物件貼上 [...]

  13. RFID Skål « AnchorXVIII - 19 December 2009

    [...] and immediate tangible interaction with rich digital media. In some ways it is similar to the iPhone RFID prototype, and here it reflects on the interchangeability of tags and readers in media interaction: RFID [...]

  14. ARTICLE: Rumor: Next iPhone to get 5MP cam and RFID | Cell Phone Reviews - 24 December 2009

    [...] This scoop on a beefier camera joins previous rumors that the new version will come loaded with an RFID reader. If it’s true, then that could be very cool. Imagine being able to sync an iPhone to iTunes by simply placing the handset near a Mac. [For a peek at what RFID (or Near Field Communications) could do for a feature like iPhone’s media player, click here.] [...]

  15. iPhone as RFID Tag & Reader: Coming Soon - www.Korallenkacke.com - 13 January 2010

    [...] an RFID Reader allows the iPhone to interact with RFID-enabled objects in the real world. Check out this prototype from a Norwegian research organization called Touch, using the iPhone as a Media [...]

  16. iPhone as RFID Tag & Reader: Coming Soon | Family Learning Center - 13 January 2010

    [...] an RFID Reader allows the iPhone to interact with RFID-enabled objects in the real world. Check out this prototype from a Norwegian research organization called Touch, using the iPhone as a Media [...]

  17. iPhone as RFID Tag & Reader: Coming Soon – multimediaDev - 13 January 2010

    [...] an RFID Reader allows the iPhone to interact with RFID-enabled objects in the real world. Check out this prototype from a Norwegian research organization called Touch, using the iPhone as a Media [...]

  18. iPhone as RFID Tag & Reader: Coming Soon | Nab-Excerpt - 14 January 2010

    [...] an RFID Reader allows the iPhone to interact with RFID-enabled objects in the real world. Check out this prototype from a Norwegian research organization called Touch, using the iPhone as a Media [...]

  19. Augmented Reality « New Now Free - 25 February 2010

    [...] iPhone RFID. Click Here. [...]

  20. How to make your own iPhone RFID reader | Blog mobile phones - 14 March 2010

    [...] noting that last April a team of researchers at the Oslo School of Architecture & Design (OSAD) demoed an iPhone RFID reader and later that year a company called Wireless Dynamics announced an RFID iPhone and iPod Touch [...]

  21. Sådan laver du din egen iPhone RFID-læser | LatestNews – Latest News – Arkitektur, Design, Ferie, Livsstil, Sport, Techgear, Transportmidler, Verden - 16 March 2010

    [...] I stedet for at vente på denne magiske teknologi til at blive vist på den næste iPhone, et forsknings-assistent på CASA / University College London har formået at bygge sin egen RFID iPhone tilbehør (video nedenfor). Benjamin Blundell’s iPhone RFID-løsning er forklaret nærmere i sin blog. Blundell’s løsning lyder RFID-data, men kan ikke skrive det endnu, hvilket betyder, at det ikke kan bruges til at åbne døre i øjeblikket, men det gør demonstrationsmodellen, hvordan iPhone kunne interageres med eksterne objekter. [...]

  22. iPhone RFID Readers - 19 March 2010

    [...] 2: Apart from this another developer had presented a cool demonstration of RFID on iPhone, check it out [...]

  23. Скоро мы сможем проигрывать медиа-файлы на iPhone, не нажимая кнопки “play” | VitoDiBari.com - 30 March 2010

    [...] http://www.nearfield.org/2009/04/iphone-rfid-nfc Делись и наслаждайся: [...]

  24. iPhone RFID Reader « RFID et cetera - 4 April 2010

    [...] how quick this [...]

  25. We will soon be able to play on our iPhone without ever touching the “play” button | VitoDiBari.com - 7 April 2010

    [...] http://www.nearfield.org/2009/04/iphone-rfid-nfc Share and Enjoy: [...]

  26. VitoDiBari.com » Useremo l'iPhone senza neanche toccarlo - 19 May 2010

    [...] http://www.nearfield.org/2009/04/iphone-rfid-nfc [...]

  27. Korptix Computer Services Blog » Blog Archive » iPhone RFID lets you embed the real world with secret codes - 17 June 2010

    [...] by the NFC group, the iPhone media player allows you to simply wave your iPhone over any properly RFID tagged object [...]

  28. iPhone RFID lets you embed the real world with secret codes | Keol.Net - 18 June 2010

    [...] by the NFC group, the iPhone media player allows you to simply wave your iPhone over any properly RFID tagged object [...]

  29. iPhone RFID: object-based media « Thought Industry - 26 July 2010

    [...] via iPhone RFID: object-based media. [...]

  30. Apple assume un esperto in “Near Field Communication” - TheAppleLounge - 16 August 2010

    [...] Fermo immagine tratto da questo video. [...]

  31. Apple assume un esperto in “Near Field Communication” | Tesoro Web - 16 August 2010

    [...] Fermo immagine tratto da questo video. [...]

  32. Apple assume un esperto in “Near Field Communication” | Tesoro Web - 16 August 2010

    [...] Fermo immagine tratto da questo video. [...]

  33. Hybrid Products: Woogie is the New Electronic Babysitter « Tribal DDB - 23 September 2010

    [...] storytelling. Other examples include Sniff the RFID reading dog, Skål (Norwegian for bowl), and an iPhone NFC prototype by Timo Arnall. ArkHippo is another case that lets users throw their iPhone around. We wonder how [...]

  34. Google, Android and NFC - 23 November 2010

    [...] the persistent rumours of an Apple iPhone with an RFID/NFC reader (and our own experiments with RFID interactions) it seems that Google is really beginning to push for NFC as part of its Android operating system [...]

  35. Theman68 | Online marketing and communication blog » iPhone RFID: object-based mediaiPhone RFID: object-based media from Timo on Vimeo. - 3 March 2011

    [...] Link: http://www.nearfield.org/2009/04/iphone-rfid-nfc [...]

  36. WTF is NFC? The brand marketer’s guide to NFC applications » *supercollider - 18 April 2011

    [...] that will allow them to bundle in media and simple interactivity. Timo Arnall’s great post on iPhone RFID: object-based media includes a video that brings this concept to [...]

  37. iPhone RFID: Object Detector Prototype “Big Brother” for Toys? | TiPb - 18 April 2011

    [...] Nearfield.org (via TUAW) brings us the above video, where innocent toys are scanned by an RFID-reading iPhone which then triggers media playback. Why? [...]

  38. Michael Yap — MFA Candidate in Interaction Design at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) » Thesis Framework v.2 — Near Field Communications - 4 September 2011

    [...] iPhone RFID [...]

  39. A story for every object, iPhone RFID | *IDEAorange - 1 November 2011

    [...] show­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties of using RFID. If you want to know more Check out this post: http://www.nearfield.org/2009/04/iphone-rfid-nfc arphidcellphonecontactlesscultureinteractionInteraction designinterfaceiphonelens [...]

  40. A story for every object RFID | ste!!a gassaway: unpredictable thoughts - 3 November 2011

    [...] This is a nifty video show­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties of using RFID. If you want to know more Check out this post: http://www.nearfield.org/2009/04/iphone-rfid-nfc [...]

  41. iPhone RFID: Object Detector Prototype "Big Brother" for Toys? - TheiMore.com - 29 November 2012

    [...] Nearfield.org (via TUAW) brings us the above video, where innocent toys are scanned by an RFID-reading iPhone which then triggers media playback. Why? [...]

  42. Enhancing User Interaction With First Person User Interface - Goodfav Howto - 5 March 2013

    [...] of inputting a barcode or picture of an object to the one illustrated in this video from the Touch research project. Simply move your device near an RFID tagged object and the application can provide the right [...]

Leave a Reply