HCII @ CHI: Technique Processes RFID Tag Signals With Speed Sufficient for Real-Time Interactivity

May 11, 2016
RFID tags quickly make objects like this Tic-Tac-Toe board interactive with digital devices.

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags are designed primarily for inventory control, but researchers at Disney Research and the HCII have found a way to process the tag signals with sufficient speed to make them suitable for use in games, physical interfaces and other interactive objects. Their technique makes it possible to use RFID tags to sense movement or touch in near real-time. The low-cost tags could thus be incorporated into slider and rotary controls for games and toys, or for use in other applications that demand prompt response.

Building interactive objects usually entails circuit boards, wiring and batteries, but passive RFID tags costing as little as a dime apiece make it feasible to add interactivity to a wide variety of objects, even those made from paper or other craft materials, said Alanson Sample, research scientist at Disney Research.

"You can create interactive objects that are essentially disposable and perhaps even recyclable," said HCII Professor Scott Hudson. (Learn more about another CHI project featuring Hudson's work on RFID tags and interactivity at the University of Washington website.)

RFID tags also could be incorporated into durable objects, such as interactive pop-up books and toys, in which batteries or wires would be inconvenient or infeasible.

The CMU and Disney researchers will present their method at CHI 2016, the Association for Computing Machinery's Conference on Human Factors in Computing, held through May 12 in San Jose, Calif.

Read the full story on the School of Computer Science website. Learn more about the HCII's CHI participation in our overview story.

Story by Byron Spice