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Scientists Print Cheap RFID Tags On Paper 67

Posted by timothy
from the tattoo-ink-next dept.
judgecorp writes "French scientists have found a way to make RFID tags cheaper by printing them on paper. [Abstract] This could allow wider tagging, and combine with technologies such as printed memory." These printed RFID tags use aluminum, "a lot less expensive than copper or silver, which are used in some types of RFID tag. This is good news for inventory users operating millions of RFID tags in their systems."
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Scientists Print Cheap RFID Tags On Paper

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  • Is there cheap and low power tech for maintaining an RFID "display", the info on which can be changed programatically, and read from many meters across a building? Bonus points for the low power consumption coming from "digital ink" that consumes power only when changing the state of the display, and none while maintaining it.

    • by fliptout (9217)

      E-ink is not actually ink at all. It is a marketing term for bi-stable liquid crystal. So, no, you aren't going to magically print e-ink on anything and have a display.

      • by Sarten-X (1102295)

        I do believe you missed the GP's point.

        Doc Ruby seems to be asking for an e-ink display tied to an RFID controller. The changing of the visible information would happen wirelessly, and using low amounts of power so as to remove the need for batteries. If such labels can be made cheaply enough. for instance, a box in a warehouse can be labeled with where it's supposed to be, as soon as it's assigned to go there. Place an order from NewEgg, Amazon, or any other technology-loving distributor, and your shipment

        • by bratwiz (635601)

          Good idea. Then some bright spot will stand outside the warehouse with an RFID writer and a pringles can and re-write all the shipping labels to his house! :-)

          • by Doc Ruby (173196)

            That's already a risk with rewritable static RFID tags. I'm surprised we haven't seen such an exploit in the wild already reported on Slashdot.

        • If such labels can be made cheaply enough. for instance, a box in a warehouse can be labeled with where it's supposed to be, as soon as it's assigned to go there.

          Seems like an overcomplicated way to do it. Each box has its own identifier anyway, so when an order is confirmed you just need to tell someone (or something) to put boxes X Y & Z on truck 123.

          • by Doc Ruby (173196)

            I think you're right about inventory control. But I'm interested in cheap, low power, reliable and possibly mobile distributed sensors that use RFID as the transmission network back to the sensor host.

        • by Doc Ruby (173196)

          You're right about the HW I'm describing, but I'm talking about the dynamic RFID tag as a sensor network device. For example, every window and door could have one whose RFID digits are flipped only whenever it's opened/closed. Then a RFID reader would poll them periodically (or continuously if desired). The reader is line powered, but the sensors/displays are battery powered (these might even be recharged by the mechanical power opening/closing the door/window, even if that's a human hand). Presence detecti

          • by Muad'Dave (255648)

            Have you ever worked with RFID readers? it's fantastically difficult to get them to work under optimal conditions, much less having the reader far enough away from the tags to make it worth not using wires or powered sensors. Add to the equation powering a sensor from an RF field (limited to 4W EIRP at 908-928 MHz) and you're pretty much doomed.

            http://www.enigmatic-consulting.com/Communications_articles/RFID/Link_budgets.html [enigmatic-consulting.com]

            • by Doc Ruby (173196)

              I haven't worked with RFID sensors, so I'm enjoying the feedback in this discussion from people who have.

              I wasn't talking about harvesting the RFID reader energy to power the sensors, though that's interesting even though you say it's not enough. I was talking about powering the sensors and their RFID display by harvesting the mechanical energy of the moving door/window they're sensing. Which, since I have worked with distributed wireless sensors other than RFID (Zigbee, some other standards, some proprieta

              • by Muad'Dave (255648)

                I worked on a project some time ago that studied the feasibility of using RFID tags in a whole host of industrial and commercial settings. Our findings where that many of the use cases that RFID was expected to solve were not possible to the level of reliability that most customers expected. I can't go into details of the customers, but one scenario was attempting to track goods on a pallet. Each item on the pallet would have a tag and as the pallet was picked up by a reader-enabled forklift, all of the tag

                • by Doc Ruby (173196)

                  This is all very interesting. Do you think that my RFID scenario, where the tags are immobile and read by immobile readers, can get to 99% reliability? If the tags and readers are installed in places they're reliably read and then left there. If the readers have to read tags through drywall, studs and maybe cinder block, across up to 30 meters? How about also through concrete floors? Across up to 100m?

                  There's probably not a lot of use for that scenario with static tag values. But with dynamic tag values, if

                  • by Muad'Dave (255648)

                    For a non battery-assisted tag at 30m through free space with a non-pinpoint beam antenna* you'd be hard-pressed to get 10% [yes, 10%] read for a tag that's < $1 and small. At 100m, no chance. I hate to say it, but I think your idea of RFID as a sensor net is DOA both from the physics involved and the expense (RFID readers/antennas/coax/etc are not cheap).

                    Look up the power link budget of RFID - the fact that they work at all is astonishing. The power that the RFID reader gets back from the tag falls off

                    • by Doc Ruby (173196)

                      Thanks for the reality. At least that condemns to fiction the panopticon dystopia where The Man tracks us all in the streets with 3D RFID locators against the swarm of RFID tags in the products and clothes we wear/carry.

                      The Digi Zigbee sensors are "ready to go", but need more parts to be complete, right? A temperature sensor node would need at least the $17 DIP, PCB, battery/holder, enclosure. Final cost is going to be something like $25, right? Any chance that in qty 1000 that will be under $10 by say 2015

                    • by Muad'Dave (255648)

                      I wouldn't say the idea of "The Man" tracking us has been put to bed. Who would've thought there'd be thousands of CCTV cameras deployed in London? They are/were expensive, fragile, and need lots of bandwidth. That didn't stop a gov't with a nearly unlimited budget and a penchant for snooping.

                      Tracking humans as they walk along a street with RFID tags in their clothes? Easy, since a single read from a 'registered' garment will suffice to ID the wearer. Extra reads are gravy. Garments are most often on the o

                    • by Doc Ruby (173196)

                      Oh, Big Brother is real, I just thought maybe RFID wasn't His way. NYC just saw reported [nydailynews.com] that its 3/4 $billion "first responder" wireless radio system is such a boondoggle the city tried to sell it to Northrup Grumman and lease it back, but "at least" the Department of Transportation is using it to monitor cars by imaging their license plates and databasing them. The sell/leaseback attempt would have gotten Northrup to lease the same system to other private users. So Bloomberg created a wireless citywide su

      • E-ink is not a bi-stable liquid crystal. It's a multicellular suspension of microcapsules of electrically charged ink, with a layer of electrodes that can be charged to cause migration of the desired colour to the surface.

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        No, the other reply [slashdot.org] is correct: I'm not talking about printing a dynamic RFID display. I'm talking about e-ink (or other techniques) simply because they're so low power, and seem otherwise suitable for the application.

    • by Big Smirk (692056)

      Long range RFID is pretty much 900Mhz (ish). To get the chip to work at ultra low power levels it has to be pretty small. We are not talking Intel top of the line foundry but 90nm or better. Bottom line, no way to print that chip.

      As for the antenna - you can print that but the variations in printing (like 1/64 of an inch makes attaching chips more expensive. The attach costs they are targeting is .25 of a cent per antenna. To achieve these numbers speed is king.

      Also, for maximum performance (best ant

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        I'm not looking to print the logic that maintains the display, or the display. That would be awesome, and cheap, but the "ink" I'm talking about isn't really ink. It's just called that because it's a "set and forget" device, like ink is, even though it's dynamic (resetable), addressable - just not as quickly as displays whose state must be actively maintained. For example e-ink displays in the (monochrome, for simplicity) Kindle are an array of tiny balls, black one one hemisphere and white on the other, th

  • Or maybe it's good news?
  • when I can just push my grocery cart through a halo and slide my card.
    • by sgtstein (1219216)
      Why even slide your card? With the security of Google Wallet, you'll be buying yours, and the rest of the people in the store(world?) groceries and other items.
    • by rubycodez (864176) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @03:15PM (#39006359)
      why waste time sliding a card, already technology exists where you could just walk through
      • by dumuzi (1497471) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @03:56PM (#39006577) Journal
        Why push a cart, the technology already exists for your fridge to order your groceries for you. In fact you could have an RFID scanner in your garbage so when you throw away packaging like a cereal box it will be added to your grocery list and delevered to your door next *day. That way we will all have more free time to spend imaging how great life will be when we finally get our flying cars.
        • by rubycodez (864176)
          no one is picking out my produce for me
        • by bratwiz (635601)

          Why stop there? If we put RFID tags on all the bills and commercial correspondence as well, then the identify thieves could just do their thing driving by, without even having to get out of their cars to dig through the trash! What a timesaver that would be. Might even go a ways toward making the profession a little more respectable-- more along the lines of, say, drug dealers. Or wall-street bankers.

          • by narcc (412956)

            identify thieves could just do their thing driving by, without even having to get out of their cars to dig through the trash! What a timesaver that would be. Might even go a ways toward making the profession a little more respectable -- more along the lines of, say, [...] wall-street bankers.

            I don't understand. It sounds like a massive step down to me.

        • Your approach sounds like too much work.

          I'd suggest instead edible rfid tags [rfidjournal.com] with a scanner affixed to your toilet bowl.

      • Something like this [youtube.com].
      • ...when you try to steal something while having the card in your pocket.
      • Good! With the extra time saved, the DHS will be able to start patting customers down at the local grocery checkout!
    • by neokushan (932374)

      What, you think in the future the US still won't have adapted to a modern electronic card payment system, like EMV or even Contactless EMV?

    • by bratwiz (635601)

      when I can just push my grocery cart through a halo and slide my card.

      Uh, don't you mean a set of HORNS and not a halo? After all, RFID is the mark of the beast!

  • With this new affordability, I will be able to use a strong sensor array and cheap tags to track the gremlins that keep hiding my wallet, keys, and remote!

  • by CrackedButter (646746) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @04:02PM (#39006637) Homepage Journal

    With this and the last story, how am I supposed to go paperless now!

    • by jouassou (1854178)
      Perhaps you could get the RFID-tags as PDFs for your iPad?
    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      The next upcoming fad will be to go silicon-less! The silicon free office will be written up in all the business magazines. There will be slashdot articles of the sort "write the name of the product on paper and tape it to the box, saving yourself the hassle of an RFID tag!"

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      Just be glad you didn't try to go paperless like I did. If you don't invest in a bidet, the bathroom can get messy.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    RFID has an obvious application in baggage handling systems, such as at airports. One of the deterrents has been cost. Hopefully that will change with this technology.

  • Aluminum? Guess I'll have to start humidifying or microwaving suspicious papers and documents. Humidity or steam should corrode aluminum on bleached papers.
  • by superwiz (655733) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @04:27PM (#39006847) Journal
    Slashdot should not be following the lead of the popular media. When you report on a "journalist getting arrested", you start out with his name. When you report on a scientist's discovery, you start out with his nationality. This is how media relegates science to the level of unimportant. If the article or headline starts out the description of the person (starting with their name), it immediately registers as a personal accomplishment and makes the person important. If it starts with their, field of specialty, their nationality or any other qualifiers of who they are and only mentions their name some time down the line, it makes their work sound utilitarian and irrelevant. Would you ever expect to see a head line in the news that "a Congressmen made a statement about such and such?" No, the headline would read "Mr. X, a Congressman from...." This ends up creating a de facto pecking order in which scientists and engineers are at the bottom.
  • If it's indeed possible to print a complex chip, like memory, how long do I have to wait, before I can print a 'modified' MiFare chip, complete with my preferred Card ID on the back of my 'fake' OysterCard? Wouldn't it be possible to create a MiFare card, with any ID number on it, In stead of emulating one, using the hardware available today?
  • In "Makers", Cory Doctorow has a segment on what would happen if RFID tags were easily printable this way - he depicted it as an opportunity to tag basically everything in your house, and then you'd never lose anything -- can't find the remote, just search it's current location.
    • Always good to check where you've left the bong before answering that unexpected knock at the door.

  • These printed RFID tags use aluminum, "a lot less expensive than copper or silver, which are used in some types of RFID tag

    It won't be long before shoplifters are stealing clothes for the scrap value of the tags.

    Actually, have you been to [Primark|Kmart] recently...

  • Does this mean they will be easier to wash out of your clothes?

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