RFID Resources

The following is a hastily assembled collection of online materials that I drew upon in preparing a presentation on RFID for a Northwest Entrepreneur Network (NWEN) Seminar on Emerging Trends in Wireless Technologies on April 26, 2005.

My slides from the presentation can be found here: (PPT, 8MB); (PDF, 1MB). The slides from the combined presentation by the moderator, Tom Ryan, and all three panelists, including Jim Grams and Mark Philips, can be found here: (PDF, 2.5MB).

Update: I updated the earlier presentation in preparation for the Dorkbot Seattle meeting on March 1, 2006, on the topic of RFID - Identity That Gets Under your Skin. This updated presentation can be found here: (PPT, 11.4MB); (PDF, 2.4MB). My co-presenters at this meeting were Doug Klunder, Privacy Project Director of the ACLU of Washington, and Amal Graafstra, CEO of txtGroups, Inc., and author of RFID Toys. Notes from the meeting an be found on my weblog.

I realize I didn't provide much context for the NWEN presentation, so here's the title, abstract and bio for my Dorkbot talk:

JOE MCCARTHY: The Practicalities, Peril and Promise of RFID

Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology enables an ever increasing range of objects to be automatically identified. This talk will provide a brief overview of how RFID technology works, followed by a whirlwind tour of a number of applications of the technology, highlighting their varying degrees of utility, risk and appeal.

We will also be demonstrating our proactive display application, which links RFID tags to online profiles and shows elements of those profiles on large computer displays when their RFID-tag-wearing owners are detected nearby, creating new opportunities for interactions and connections among people in a shared space ... like a Dorkbot meeting. Anyone interested in sharing something about themselves on a display at the March meeting is encouraged to create a profile (samples can be found here).

Joe McCarthy is the Founder and Connector-in-Chief of Interrelativity, Inc., whose mission is to use technology to help people relate to one another in shared physical spaces. Prior to founding Interrelativity, Joe's career included roles as a researcher at Intel and Accenture, a professor at the University of Hartford, an independent consultant, and lead guitarist of the band Freeway Jam. More information about Joe and his work can be found on the Interrelativity web site and Joe's weblog.

If you have suggestions for other materials to include in this collection, please feel free to email them to me here.


The Magic of RFID (Roy Want, Intel)
A Guide to Understanding RFID (RFID Journal)
How RFIDs Work (HowStuffWorks)
RFID (Wikipedia)
Special Report on RFID (eWEEK.com)


EPCglobal Inc.
EPCglobal is leading the development of industry-driven standards for the Electronic Product Code™ (EPC) to support the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) in today’s fast-moving, information rich trading networks. We are a member-driven organisation comprised of leading firms and industries focused on creating global standards for the EPCglobal Network™. Our goal is increased visibility and efficiency throughout the supply chain and higher quality information flow between your company and its key trading partners.

Auto-ID Labs (USA)
Auto-ID Labs is a federation of research universities that has evolved from the Auto-ID Center, initially founded in 1999 to develop an open standard architecture for creating a seamless global network of physical objects. Funded in part by the EAN.UCC, governments, and industry, Auto-ID Labs is based at seven leading universities worldwide -- MIT, University of Cambridge, University of Adelaide, Keio University, Fudan University, University of St. Gallen and ICU. Each with distinct interests and capabilities, but linked by the common vision of an "Internet of things," we continue to research and develop new technologies and applications for revolutionizing global commerce and providing previously un-realizable consumer benefits.

Ubiquitous ID Center (Japan)
The Ubiquitous ID Center was set up within the T-Engine Forum to establish and popularize the core technology for automatically identifying physical objects and locations and to work toward the ultimate objective of realizing a ubiquitous computing environment.

RFID Alliance
The RFID Alliance Lab, housed at the University of Kansas, is a not-for-profit testing facility that will provide objective benchmarking reports on RFID equipment. Utilizing the combined expertise of its three partners, the RFID Alliance Lab will test RFID technology and publish objective reports of the testing results. Daniel Deavours, Research Assistant Professor and Principal Investigator, and other researchers will assess how RFID equipment will perform when placed in a variety of realistic scenarios. The Lab will also leverage expertise obtained by ITTC researchers in evaluating Bluetooth technology, creating rapid deployable radio networks, and various other wireless and networking projects.

Smart Card Alliance
The Smart Card Alliance is a not-for profit, multi-industry association working to accelerate the widespread acceptance of multiple application smart card technology. Our membership includes leading companies in the banking, financial services, computer, telecommunications, technology, healthcare, retail, and entertainment industries, as well as a number of government agencies. The convergence of these major industry players is unprecedented and represents a shared vision and commitment to providing an interoperable platform for the delivery of a new generation of products and services based on smart card technology.


Large companies with a large volume of RFID production

Texas Instruments
Philips Electronics

Smaller companies with a primary focus on RFID solutions

Alien Technology
Savi Technology
Symbol (formerly Matrics)

Large companies with an RFID solution capability

Hewlett Packard
Sun Microsystems

[This list is incomplete; there are thousands of companies involved in RFID. No endorsement is intended for any company listed, nor any slight intended for any company not listed. A more extensive list of RFID companies can be found here.]

Privacy and Security

Spychips: RFID Privacy Website, a project of CASPIAN (Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering)

Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

Real ID Act: U.S. legislation passed in May 2005 requiring a national identification card with "common machine-readable technology" by 2008; see also Bruce Schneier's analysis and UnRealID

RFID Zapper: a gadget to deactivate (i.e., destroy) passive RFID tags permanently.

How to Kill RFID Tags with a Cell Phone (Scientific American blog, February 14, 2006)

Why Use Remotely-Readable Passports? (Freedom to Tinker, April 14, 2005)

Analysis of the Texas Instruments DST RFID, by a joint team from Johns Hopkins University and RSA Laboratories.

The Texas Instruments DST tag is a cryptographically enabled RFID transponder used in several wide-scale systems including vehicle immobilizers and the ExxonMobil SpeedPass system. This page serves as an overview of our successful attacks on DST enabled systems.

I Sense a Disturbance in the Force: Unobtrusive Detection of Interactions with RFID-tagged Objects, a 17-page paper by Ken Fishkin, et al., Intel Research Seattle, June 2004.

A novel method to infer interactions with passive RFID tagged objects is described. The method allows unobtrusive detection of human interactions with RFID tagged objects without requiring any modifications to existing communications protocols or RFID hardware. The object motion detection algorithm was integrated into a RFID monitoring system and tested in laboratory and home environments. The paper catalogs the experimental results obtained, provides plausible models and explanations and highlights the promises and outstanding future challenges for the role of RFID in ubicomp applications.

RFID Security and Privacy: a 19-page article by Ari Juels of RSA Laboratories, September 2005.

This article surveys recent technical research on the problems of privacy and security for RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification). RFID tags are small, wireless devices that help identify objects and people. Thanks to dropping cost, they are likely to proliferate into the billions in the next several years – and eventually into the trillions. RFID tags track objects in supply chains, and are working their way into the pockets, belongings and even the bodies of consumers. This survey examines approaches proposed by scientists for privacy protection and integrity assurance in RFID systems, and treats the social and technical context of their work. While geared toward the non-specialist, the survey may also serve as a reference for specialist readers. A condensed version of this survey will appear in the IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communication (J-SAC) in 2006.

Other Online RFID Resources

RFID Journal
RFID Gazette
RFID Weblog
RFID Times
RFID in Japan
Contactless News
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) News (from IT Industry Today)
RFID in 2005 [A U.S. Department of Commerce forum in April 2005; presentations and audio recordings from the event can be found here.]
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID): A Policymaker's Guide [A National Conference of State Legislators forum in Fall 2005 with a number of onlne speaker presentations.]

Other Interesting Reading / Viewing

Proactive Displays (Interrelativity)
Proactive displays are large computer displays augmented with sensors (e.g., RFID readers) that can detect people nearby (e.g., wearing RFID tags in name badges) and show content relating to those people, creating new opportunities for greater awareness and interactions by bringing the benefits of virtual communities into physical communities. [Disclosure: the author is extremely biased toward this work.]

The Catalogue (short film by Chris Oakley)
A fabulous, futuristic video of people in a multi-level shopping mall (that I believe is Westlake Center in Seattle), with overlays depicting the information that might be automatically extracted about those people, the objects they encounter, the places they visit, and the activities in which they engage, if / when RFID technology becomes more pervasive (and accurate).

RFID and the Internet of Things
RFID holds the promise of networking the physical world and tightly integrating it with computing systems. The rewards for successfully doing so are tremendous, as several early projects have proved. But RFID is a technology that must be carefully considered and presented, with the implications for privacy and customer acceptance fully thought through. Otherwise, what should be a highly rewarding deployment can turn into a failed project.

METRO Group Future Store
The METRO Group Future Store Initiative is a cooperation project between METRO Group, SAP, Intel, IBM and T-Systems as well as other partner companies from the information technology and consumer goods industries. Its objective is to promote innovations in retailing on a national and international level. The initiative shall be understood as a platform for technical and process-related developments and innovations in retailing. Within the METRO Group Future Store Initiative, technologies and technical systems are tested and further developed in practice. In the long run the initiative is aimed at setting standards for retailing that can be implemented on an international scale.

Ubiquitous Commerce (Accenture Technology Labs)
This research initiative focuses on identifying post-PC computing platforms and pervasive network applications that enable new applications for high performance business.

System for Human Activity Recognition and Prediction (Intel Research Seattle)
Human Activity Inferencing is one of the two approved Lab Research Proposals (LRPs) currently under investigation at Intel Research Seattle, in collaboration with the University of Washington. Our effort revolves around building a system, SHARP, that enables widely applicable activity inferencing, widely applicable across a great range of activities, a great range of contexts (place, time, settings), and a great range of variations in performance (accomodating interruption, abandonment, interleaving, flexible tasks, group tasks, etc.).

Sony FeliCa Chip
FeliCa is a contactless IC card technology developed by Sony. As the name stemming from the word "felicity" suggests, the system was born to make daily living easier and more convenient. The card is difficult to forge/reconstruct, and allows to send/receive data at high speed and with high security. The system is also environment-friendly since the card can be used over-and-over virtually forever by rewriting the data. It also features ultimate user-ease, as would be expected from a contactless card, since there is no longer any need to retrieve and put away the card for every use. All-in-all, the system is rational throughout, since one card is enough to provide for various purposes.

KDDI, Oki Electric and iNAGO Start Testing Mobile Phones with Electronic Tag Readers
KDDI, Oki Electric Industry, and iNAGO began testing a shopping mall mobile service combining RFID tag functions in electronic posters and store POPs using the industry's first RFID reader enabled mobile phone as a test terminal. The test, which began on March 24 in cooperation with Stellar Mall (about 110 stores) in Saitama city, Saitama Prefecture, will examine the effectiveness of information services using RFID tags.

Robotic Guide Dog, aka SANDEE (System for Assisted Navigation in Dynamic and complEx Envrironments
The SANDEE acronym stands for a System for Assisted Navigation in Dynamic and complEx Envrironments. The objective of a SANDEE is to enable the visually impaired to navigate dynamic and complex indoor and outdoor environments with comfort and ease. We are developing SANDEEs to address the limitations of the existing assisted navigation technologies, such as dependency on one sensor type, inability to do sensor fusion, insufficient context sensitivity, limited communication capabilities, and the failure to reduce the user's navigation-related cognitive load. We emphasize the feasibility of robot-assisted navigation. In fact, robot-assisted navigation is one of the assisted navigation modes that we are actively investigating.

Interra Project
Motivated by a deep concern about our future and the increasingly apparent disconnect between the values of our society and the actions of the large institutions that are shaping our world, a group of over 100 visionaries have come together with Dee Hock, the founder of Visa International and Greg Steltenpohl, founder of the Odwalla juice company to develop a new model of economic democracy and exchange based upon values. The principal tool for this re-empowerment is a payment card and transaction platform, that rewards customers for purchasing from locally owned and sustainable businesses, donates automatically to community organizations and facilitates connections to like minded members in a self organizing manner.