Create a business card that automatically places a Skype call when waved near a computer, or a photo that opens an online video of your vacation. A new kit makes it easy to devise your own uses for radio-frequency ID tags, something that previously only programmers could do.
TikiTag’s kit comes with an RFID reader, plus 10 stick-on chips that transmit data over short-distance radio waves, just like the chips in electronic security badges and PayPass credit cards. When scanned by the reader or a reader-equipped cellphone (such as the Nokia 6212 Classic), each chip emits a unique signal. Software on a computer or phone looks up this ID in TikiTag’s online database, which stores your instructions for what program to trigger next.
TikiTag can pass commands to several programs, including Skype, iTunes and Web browsers, and others are in the works. Soon a tag could connect to home-automation applications to open the door when you swipe, or act as a store’s frequent-user card, updating the online database every time it’s used.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.