Monday, 19 March 2007

PerTec Workshop in NY, Ripping off the Antenna

At PerCom 2007 ( Florian Michahelles (Auto-ID labs, ETH Zurich), Frédéric Thiesse (University of St. Gallen), John R. Williams (MIT Cambridge) and I are running the the PerTec workshop ( There is quite some interest in the topic and the range of topics is from technical to user interface and security.

In contrast to the workshop 1 year ago at Pervasive 2006 it seems that item level RFID-tagging is undisputed and that the only discussion point is when it is coming - in 6 month or 10 years. There is also still some discussion about what types of products are the first ones that are tagged – is it pharmaceuticals or cloth?

There was an interesting contribution by Paul Moskowitz from IBM, the clipped tag. It is a tag where you can physically rip off some part the antenna to reduce the read range from several meters to centimetres (see the pictures). It is really interesting that people can do a very clear and visible action to change the characteristics of a tag. The only questions that remains for me – will people trust that this really rips of the antenna? Probably yes…

The topics we discussed included security, privacy, location and RFID, end user issues, and connection of sensors to RFID, we hope to write it up in an overview article.

In the break out groups one discussion centered on the question what would we need to enable end-users to create novel applications using RFID? Further results of the discussion will be available on the workshop webpage soon.

The overall theme that emerged again and again is impact of real world constraints in RFID systems. Questions like: Can you achieve anonymity with a certain protocol? Can not be answered without knowing how it is used in the real world. Especially having recently learned a lot about data-mining (being at Fraunhofer IAIS) for me the questions of exploiting data collected in RFID systems looks really challenging.

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