Hackit: Consumer RFID


RFID seems to have invaded every part of our lives. Sure, the technology has been primarily used in government and industry, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have consumer applications. Recently, we posted about [max’s] RFID dorm room lock, that he built to provide a safe, convenient way to access his room. A while back, we talked about an RFID spatially aware address book that used a combination of rfid tags and post-it notes to control the NFC enabled Nokia 3220 cell phone. Both of these projects highlight unique applications where RFID is used. We bash on RFID from time to time, mostly due to its security (or lack there of). That said, there is an interesting consumer solution out there for people who want to voluntarily use RFID called Touchatag (formerly known as Tikitag). The cool thing about Touchatag is that it uses a combination of RFID and QR (2-D barcode) tags to trigger applications on the Touchatag website. The starter kit, which includes 10 tags and a USB RFID reader, goes for about $40; a decent price considering the hacking potential for the RFID reader. In addition to using the reader, you can also use any NFC enabled phone to read the tags. While NFC enabled phones are currently few and far between, the technology will likely be implemented in many of the new phones released in the coming year.

We’re curious, what do you think is next for consumer RFID? What kind of innovative project ideas do you have?

29 thoughts on “Hackit: Consumer RFID

  1. @avaviel
    My college uses rfids too. I’ve always wanted to scan my ID card and see what info is on the rfid but have wondered if you need to unencrypt the bitstream to get meaningful data out of it. Are the ones and zeroes just ascii code?

  2. @Zorink
    depends on what type of card they’re using.
    couple of common ones are Mifare cards which have some space to store data.
    the EM cards are also sometimes used for door access. the EM cards have a unique id on each card with no write capability.
    I’d say unless they store value on the card that it would use the EM cards.

  3. RFID went consumer the day you could get a rfid reader and tags from Radioshack.

    Paralalax rfid kit is in the parts bins at Rat-shack. Blew my mind.

    But, Rfid at home will not become useful until the tags drop to $0.01 each and/or groceries come with them already. I would KILL to be able to put a reader in my fridge and pantry and pull up a inventory in the home server. That would be the killer rfid app for consumers.

  4. What ‘d like is an affordable RFID EMP blaster on the market, one that you don’t have to make yourself tuned to each RFID.
    Not just for me but for the freedom of the people.

  5. does anyone know of a reasonably priced RFID reader with a range of maybe 10 ft or so? My car has RFID tags to monitor tire pressure, but it just tells you if something has gone wrong, not the actual number. I’d like to be able to read that and display it on the dash somewhere.

  6. For those of you who don’t know – there are no tags that don’t use batteries that are writeable. The tags that don’t need an external power source use the energy from the radio waves to read the data from their memory and send it back.

    I have done some work with rfid, and this is what I found out. If you want to copy the classic, no-power-source cards or chips, I would think you need do so at production time. E.g., put a memory chip on it which has already had data written to it. — Ah, found it. Protocol is called EM4102.

    Check out phidgets.com for a somewhat cheap rfid reader, with a complete API in C, C++, .NET and more.

  7. If they ever get market saturation with these things, like if someone comes up with the killer app for “the internet of things”, I can see this becoming a vector for shenanigans.
    “Oh, a touchtag for free cappuccino” scan/url/pwned!

    The same has been done in the past with thumb drives.

  8. Japaneese and south Koreans have been using the QR codes for everything from booking tickets to getting coupons.

    Would like to see a grassroots barter credit system using this rfid technology. Could become a counter culture digital cash system. Considering that the chips in nfc phones can read tags but also emulate tags, if some sort of authentication could be used to verify your e-wallet. A digital cash system using gsm already exists in Afrika http://webwereld.nl/internationaal-nieuws/55444/zain-launches-mobile-money-transfer-service-in-east-africa.html

  9. What about using a hyperscan gaming system for rfid? it has a usb port and runs games on CDs which can be downloaded and burned. I have one of these and plan to experiment soon.

  10. Does anyone know of alternative software that could be used with this? To use it as intended, you install their software which listens for tags and sends the number to their servers awaiting instructions (what rfid = what “application” or URL). As of my last experience with my tikitag reader, there wasn’t a way to set a function on the tag LEAVING the read-area.. so I gave up on it.

    If I could get this thing to work with truecrypt, using the RFID # as the password, and re-encrypting when I leave with my tag, I would feel very Bond.

  11. As far as RFID consumer products… How about an RFID tag under a golf balls skin. True golf ball location up to 30ft, yes? Usually the little sucker is 3 feet away from you under a layer of grass and you never see it.

  12. RFID Cat Flap… kind of cool, espically as most at the moment are Magnetic so they have no distinction between them.

    Espically as the animal tracking system uses RFID so a collar with it might not be nessecary, but there usually quite weak in power.

  13. All the hacks people think up are a bit limited by the reader’s max range of one inch, they should really improve that, 5 inches would already be much much better.

    (Don’t say that’s what she said dammit, this isn’t engadget >:|)

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