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?

Related things:

  1. Bowl: Token-based media for children In spring 2007 interaction design students at AHO participated in a research-driven course called Tangible interactions that investigated themes around RFID, NFC and the Touch project. This is one of the projects that emerged......
  2. iPhone RFID and NFC peripherals We are beginning to see RFID and NFC 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......
  3. Skål: playing with media Skål (Norwegian for bowl) is a product that has emerged from the Bowl project. It is a media player designed for the home that acts as the interface between physical objects and related digital......
  4. Place and product-based collaborative filtering In March 2006 fourth year interaction design students at AHO conducted intense one-week investigations into Near Field Communication in a project called Touchable services. See more student projects. Jon Olav Eikenes, Guilia Schneider, Bjørn......
  5. More RFID-based products A Dutch company, Swinxs is developing a physical RFID-based console with RFID wristbands for children. They claim to be encouraging physical activities and ‘stimulating imagination’. The console includes versions of Tag, multiple Quiz games,......

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22 Comments

  1. Ole
    Posted 14 April 2009 at 21:46 | Permalink

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

    Thanks!

  2. Posted 14 April 2009 at 21:48 | Permalink

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

  3. Martin
    Posted 15 April 2009 at 11:57 | Permalink

    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. Posted 15 April 2009 at 15:19 | Permalink

    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
    Posted 15 April 2009 at 16:31 | Permalink

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

  6. Posted 15 April 2009 at 21:55 | Permalink

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

  7. Martin Killmann
    Posted 16 April 2009 at 6:30 | Permalink

    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. Posted 16 April 2009 at 13:15 | Permalink

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

    Cool stuff! ;)

  9. Rolf
    Posted 16 April 2009 at 15:08 | Permalink

    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. Posted 16 April 2009 at 15:14 | Permalink

    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
    Posted 17 April 2009 at 0:30 | Permalink

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

  12. popo
    Posted 6 May 2009 at 15:57 | Permalink

    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
    Posted 1 July 2009 at 17:49 | Permalink

    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
    Posted 17 July 2009 at 15:26 | Permalink

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

  15. Posted 2 October 2009 at 20:16 | Permalink

    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. Posted 23 October 2009 at 18:44 | Permalink

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

  17. Posted 28 October 2009 at 12:04 | Permalink

    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
    Posted 6 November 2009 at 19:38 | Permalink

    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. Posted 7 February 2010 at 21:31 | Permalink

    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
    Posted 14 March 2010 at 21:26 | Permalink

    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. Posted 10 April 2010 at 11:12 | Permalink

    Nice…

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

    Very interested in the topic.

    Regards
    S

  22. Posted 20 July 2010 at 10:47 | Permalink

82 Trackbacks

  1. [...] 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. [...] 0 Comments | Posted by admin in Uncategorized http://www.nearfield.org/2009/04/iphone-rfid-nfc [...]

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

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

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

  6. By RFID-Equipped iPhone « Nothing to Hide? on 6 November 2009 at 15:02

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

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

  9. [...] [...]

  10. By Apple testing RFID-enabled iPhone? | NW0.eu on 7 November 2009 at 17:21

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

  11. By iPhone RFID and NFC peripherals on 19 November 2009 at 18:49

    [...] 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. By » iPhone + RFID on 25 November 2009 at 20:45

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

  13. By RFID Skål « AnchorXVIII on 19 December 2009 at 18:27

    [...] 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. [...] 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. [...] 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. [...] 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. [...] 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. [...] 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. By Augmented Reality « New Now Free on 25 February 2010 at 0:40

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

  20. [...] 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. [...] 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. By iPhone RFID Readers on 19 March 2010 at 5:30

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

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

  24. By iPhone RFID Reader « RFID et cetera on 4 April 2010 at 5:52

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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