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

RFID, AIDC and IoT News Round Up for June 27, 2018


New RFID Chip Turned Sensor from MIT; Swedes Lead the World in RFID Implants; Meijer Stores Launches Customer Self-Scan App

June 27, 2018
SCDigest Editorial Staff

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

MIT Researchers Develop RFID Chip that becomes a Sensor

RFID chips are increasingly paired with sensors to report on various environmental conditions, such as for example temperature.

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The theory goes like this: only through bettering ourselves – and escaping biological boundaries – will humans be able to compete with artificial intelligence in the future.

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But there can be challenges, starting with relatively high costs forRFID tags that are barriers to mass deployment. There can also be issues with radio waves reflecting against walls or other objects and interfere with sensing. Because the antennae-based sensors are prone to false positives or negatives they are unreliable, says Sai Nithin Reddy Kantareddy, a graduate student at MIT.

To address that problem, MIT's Auto-ID Lab has developed a design that turns ordinary RFID tags into sensors – and eliminates the need for an antenna.

The MIT team came up with an ultra-high frequency (UHF) tag sensor configuration that they say will be less prone to interference and can also detect glucose in the environment. Sensing glucose somehow allows the chip to produce an electric charge, which powers the RFID tag like a battery.

The researchers are still working on improving the technology, hoping to create an RFID tag someday that could detect carbon monoxide or theoretically any number of chemicals.

"Imagine creating thousands of these inexpensive RFID tag sensors which you can just slap onto the walls of an infrastructure or the surrounding objects to detect common gases like carbon monoxide or ammonia, without needing an additional battery, said Kantareddy. "You could deploy these cheaply, over a huge network."

The new tag design should offers an increased communication range (up to 10 meters) versus typical passive RFID, which can help minimize the amount of required readers and thereby also lower overall system costs.

Why Swedes Increasing Going for Implanted RFID Chips

SCDigest has reported many times on people implanting RFID chips in themselves – typically in the fleshy part of the hand between the thumb and index finger. Having such a chip can allow some level of automation in doing tasks ranging from opening a garage door to using a copy machine in an office environment. (See Despite the Controversy and "Ick" Factor, Growing Number of Humans Opting for Embedded RFID Chips.)

The concept seems to have become especially popular in Sweden.

(See More Below)


Learn More about Softeon's Innovative Supply Chain Solutions website from Sweden reports that roughly 3,500 Swedes have had microchips implanted in them – for a variety of reasons. The phenomenon reflects Sweden's unique biohacking scene. But if you look underneath the surface, Sweden's love affair with all things digital goes much deeper than just the microchips.

The term biohackers refers to people who conduct experiments in biomedicine, but do so outside of traditional institutions – such as universities, medical companies and other scientifically controlled environments. Just as computer hackers hack computers, biohackers hack anything biological – like their bodies.

A subset of this group are people who identify as transhumanists, who focus on enhancing and improving the human body – with the aim, in the long run, of improving the human, they say.

The theory goes like this: only through bettering ourselves – and escaping biological boundaries – will humans be able to compete with artificial intelligence in the future.

A belief in digital technology and a trust in its potential has strongly affected Swedish culture. And the transhumanist movement has built upon this. In fact, Sweden played an important part in the formation of the transhumanist ideology. The global transhumanist foundation Humanity+ was co-founded by the Swede Nick Bostrom in 1998. Since then, many Swedes have become convinced that they should be trying enhance and improve their biological bodies.

The Local concludes by noting that "as the world expresses shock at the number of people being microchipped in Sweden, we should use this opportunity to delve deeper into Sweden's remarkable relationship with all thing digital. After all, this latest phenomenon is just one manifestation of an underlying faith in technology that makes Sweden quite unique."

Meijer Stores Releasing Scan as You Shop App

Mass merchant chain Meijer is launching a new shopping incentive for customers called "Shop and Scan." It's a shopping checkout program that uses a smart phone and a mobile app.

Shoppers scan bar codes with their phone for products as part of the shopping process. The app will keep a running total so shoppers can see how much they are spending. Selected items are scanned and then placed into shopping bags already in the cart.

Once finished shopping, a Meijer customer just scans their phones at the self-checkout and then pays at a kiosk that includes a scale for fruits and vegetables. This eliminates taking all of the items normally placed into the cart onto the POS conveyor belt, then paying and having someone bag the groceries.

Meijer does say some customers will be randomly chosen to be audited during check out.

The new system is free and works with iPhone and Android phones.

During a test for the shopping experience, Meijer saw 25,000 customers take part in the program and use the app. The program will be available in all Meijer stores by the end of the year.

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