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Category: RFID, Automated Data Collection, and Internet of Things

RFID, AIDC and IoT News Round Up for April 24, 2018


Embedded RFID in Humans for Payments? How about RFID on Your Teeth for Calorie and Other Tracking? IoT Security - Does Anyone Care?

April 24, 2018
SCDigest Editorial Staff

Below are SCDigest's picks for the top stories this week on RFID, automatic data collection and IoT.

Is Embedded RFID for Payments Coming Soon?

We've written many times about the mini-trend of some individuals having RFID chips implanted in their hands that enable them to control a variety devices, such as opening garage doors or turning on computers with the wave of an arm.

A handful of businesses have also offered the chip option to employees to enable them to enter the building or pay for lunch or to use the copy machine. (See Despite the Controversy and "Ick" Factor, Growing Number of Humans Opting for Embedded RFID Chips.)

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IoT device manufacturers often see security as a costly capability relative to other factors that small, low power connected IoT devices need.

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Now, some companies are pushing the idea of using the RFID implants for wireless payments without need of a phone.

"Proponents of the chips argue that implants could drive the future of payments and other smart functions, and that they create conveniences for those who are willing to embrace the technology," said an recent article on the web site, adding, however, that "critics question the ethical ramifications of offering chips in the workplace, and they raise questions about whether today's chips provide enough of a compelling use case to justify their physical invasiveness."

The RFID chips are the size of a grain of rice and are usually implanted in fleshy part of the skin between the thumb and forefinger. The chips use near-field communication (NFC) technology.

The banking industry is interested. Why? Because if the approach takes off, it would fulfill a longtime desire of the payments industry to shift habits from "don't leave home without it" to "you can't leave home without it."

But don't expect widespread adoption any time soon, the article says.

For widespread adoption to happen, one expert says consumers will need a more compelling reason than just convenience for paying at a store or restaurant with their hands. Consumers would need multipurpose chips that allow them to do something new and different that they can't do now without a chip, such as…. improving their vision?

"They're going to be chips that basically put your smartphone in your brain so you can access a whole slew of functions and capabilities and where the value proposition is strong," says Rick Oglesby, president of the market research and consulting firm AV Payments Group.

SCDigest says we're in no hurry for that "breakthrough."

RFID in Your Mouth Tracks what You Eat and Drink

Also in the past week news that researchers at the Tufts University Biomedical Engineering Department are experimenting with wearable trackers that mount to your teeth. The tiny monitors use RFID technology and sensors to track calories, alcohol consumption, multiple types of sugar, and the foods people eat. The researchers also speculate about developing the devices to monitor stress levels from a person's saliva.

According to an article on the web site, the RFID trackers use a square tooth-mounted sensor made of titanium and gold and feature detector layers made of either water-based gel or silk fibers (see image below).

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When testing for the trackers' ability to detect alcohol and sugar, researchers instructed subjects to swish various liquids. The trackers sent accurate information to tablets and cellphones, distinguishing between liquids such as saliva, water, and alcohols, as well as different types of sugars and their concentrations.

Using water-based gel sensors, they were able to track varying temperatures and acidity levels.

These trackers, the researchers say, could be a new breakthrough in calorie and fitness tracking. They are not yet available commercially because the researchers are still working out a few kinks and discovering more uses for chips.

We're not signing up for this one either.

Iot Security Concerns Peaking – With No End in Sight

Lots of companies are rushing to develop IoT solutions without worrying a whole lot about security.
That was the essence of a recent article on the web site, which included a quote from John Cook, senior director of product management at security firm Symantec, who said at a recent conference that : "A lot of the manufacturing behind IoT devices today feels like the Gold Rush… everyone wants to get there in a hurry. You effectively have people staking out a claim in the area without further thought to security."

The 2016 Mirai botnet attack, which was orchestrated as a distributed denial of service attack through 300,000 vulnerable Internet of Things devices like webcams, routers and video recorders, showed just how big of an impact the lack of IoT security has.

But the industry has not taken much action since that event.

IoT device manufacturers often see security as a costly capability relative to other factors that small, low power connected IoT devices need. For instance, Marc Bown, senior director of security at Fitbit, says that many connected device manufacturers would prefer to use low power, cheaper chips as opposed to ones that come with higher levels of security.

"Manufacturers are trading off encryption for low power chips, lower prices, storage space, and battery life," Bown said.

The push for manufacturers to prioritize IoT security will ultimately need to come from end users – but the outcry for better security hasn't occurred yet from consumers, said Symantec's Cook, because the still minimal real deployments have not led to hacks that have caused many business or personal users real paid.

But that day is clearly coming, experts believe.

Any Feedback on this week's top stories? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.


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