sunnuntai, 24. maaliskuu 2019

Q&A: Radio-frequency ID tags

 

Q&A: Radio-frequency ID tags

More than 270 billion radio-frequency ID tags could be sold around the world by 2016, predicts the European Union. But many people are worried about the impact the technology will have on their lives.

 

What are radio frequency ID tags?

 

They are small devices that store data that identifies the object to which they are attached. They have been called "smart barcodes" and are intended to take over many of the jobs of those ubiquitous black and white stripes.

The data onboard an RFID tag can be read at a distance via radio. They typically combine a small amount of computer memory with a radio antenna.

There are two types of radio frequency ID (RFID) tags: passive and active.

Passive tags have no battery onboard but the current generated when they are scanned with a radio reading device powers the tiny circuit and makes it emit a signal.

Because of this the data in passive tags can only be read over small distances - up to a few metres.

The small size of these tags- which often lack an antenna - mean they often only hold an identity number. The smallest passive tags are as thin as paper and about a quarter of a millimetre square - slightly larger than the full stop at the end of this sentence. Adding an antenna makes them much larger - about as big as a first class stamp.

Active tags are bigger, always have an antenna and are fitted with their own battery. These tags can be read over distances of hundreds of metres and have a lifetime of about a decade.

They hold much more data about the object or objects to which they are attached.

Active tags often have other sensors onboard that help monitor the object, such as a cow or volatile chemicals, to which they are stuck. In this way they could report the location of a cow if it wanders off or if explosive chemicals are getting too hot.

Why are they useful?

Barcodes have made big differences to business as they help to track goods, keep shelves stocked and ensure you pay the right price for what you buy.

RFID tags promise to do what barcodes do and add much more to it.

 

To begin with RFID tags make it much easier to keep an eye on goods as they move from where they are produced to where you buy them.

They make it possible to check what is on a particular lorry just by driving it through a really big reading device. Individual boxes no longer have to be scanned one-by-one.


 

Because of these innovations businesses are likely to be the first adopters of RFID technology to streamline the delivery of goods to shops.

In the US retail giant Wal-Mart has started a big RFID trial and demanded that its key suppliers adopt the technology. Tesco has also started using the technology in the supply chain that keeps its superstores fully stocked.

While businesses are keen to use RFID tags there is one big stumbling block - price.

Currently even the smallest passive tags cost a few pence each which makes them too pricey to put on every tin of beans. Because of this businesses see them being used to label up boxes or pallets of goods rather than individual items.

Prices are dropping and work is being done on technology that would enable RFID tags to be printed almost as cheaply as barcodes. Once that happens passive tags could be everywhere. Some have said that this will create an "internet of things" in the same way that now we have an "internet of computers".

Also many governments are starting to consider putting RFID tags on passports and other ID documents so they can be machine read.

 

Sounds good, are there any pitfalls?

Lots. To begin the sheer amount of data that a company could gather about its supply chain could be overwhelming but work is going on to understand what data is actually useful.

 

Beyond this, widespread use of RFID tags raises all kinds of personal privacy issues.

Once the goods you own can tell a tale about who they are, this could add depth to any large scale surveillance plan. Some digital rights campaigners say RFID tags should be disabled when you pay for the goods they are on.

However, access to the data that can link passive tag data to credit cards and where they were bought is likely to be only available to law enforcement.

Many privacy advocates are concerned about active tags that can be read at a distance and fear these could be used in covert monitoring schemes.

In Europe the EU has held a consultation exercise to gather opinions from citizens and industry on RFID tags and how they should be used.

   

maanantai, 18. maaliskuu 2019

Proximity Cards - Contactless Smart Cards

What is a Proximity Card?

A proximity card also known as ‘prox’ cards are smart cards that have a feature of “contactless technology” and so they can be read without the help of a reader device which are required for reading magnetic strip cards such as debit or credit cards. In organizations, proximity cards are used in the form of smart cards to have control on their employees through physical access control system. Every employee is provided with a proximity card, and for entrance in the organizations, employees are required to display the card in front of the proximity card reader. The proximity card reader through radio signals receives ID from the proximity card which the reader further transmit to the main computer. After checking the access database, the system either allow or restrict the entry of the employee.

Types of Proximity Card

 

Passive proximity cards

 

Passive proximity cards are identified through radio waves signals transmitted from the proximity card reader. And as these cards have limited range and so in order to be read these cards have to be bring closer to the card reader. These cards are generally used in office buildings for access control doors. These smart cards are also used for public transit, in libraries and in payment system.

 

Active proximity cards

Active proximity cards are also known as vicinity cards. These cards uses internal lithium battery. Unlike passive proximity cards, these cards have range up to 6 feet or 2 meters. These cards are generally used for automated toll collection. However as they are powered by battery, they are required to be replace within 2 to 7 years.

There are variety of proximity smart cards and proximity key fobs available in the market for gaining physical access such as kantech proximity cards, HID proximity cards, indala proximity card, AWID proximity cards, etc.

 

Advantages of Proximity Cards

Proximity cards are used for dual purpose i.e. to get both physical and logical access control. These cards are used immensely use in organizations to access better and effective security measures. They are useful for checking access for restricted areas such as technology server, networks, etc. in an organization. One of the other usage of low price proximity card is that as audit reports are generated so they are used for marking employee attendance. Another feature of proximity cards are that they can be programmed to be read by multiple readers and thus they provide more flexibility with addition of new proximity readers and access control systems. For logical access control, proximity cards are also used for digital signatures, digital certifications, web authorization, email encryption, etc.

 

Disadvantages of Proximity Cards

Although the proximity cards have great benefits, however there are few disadvantages too. There is a greater possibility that these cards can be lost as these are very light weight. Moreover many retail outlets and merchandise using proximity cards for payment transactions. However they find the technology more expensive and thus they charge additional fee from the customer for using the contactless technology.

sunnuntai, 10. maaliskuu 2019

Tomorrow's buildings: Smarter by design

The smartest buildings of the future will be those designed with people in mind, according to a new breed of architects trying to put the human at the centre of the process.

This can mean design that speaks directly to the function of a building - a hospital designed to help make people better or a school that aims to redefine education.

Or it may mean using technology to allow people to get involved in the design process or feedback on how they feel about living or working in a particular building.

As part of its Tomorrow's Buildings season, the BBC looks at four ideas that aim to do all of the above.

 

The new era of smart buildings is all about data - but, generally, what is being measured is practical stuff such as temperature, light, the number of people in a building at any given time.

But what if you could also measure the feelings of the people inside?

Consultant engineers Arup recently experimented with the idea of measuring just that.

It installed what it called a "sentiment cocoon" in its offices that sought to capture people's emotions throughout the day.

Designed by architect Moritz Behrens and lighting designer Konstantinos Mavromichalis, the 20m (65ft) cocoon structure encouraged workers to record their feelings via dashboards installed around their offices.

Individuals swiped their Oyster card (a smartcard used on the London Underground) or any other radio-frequency identification (RFID) card to log in and could choose from three different moods:

  • happy

  • sad

  • indifferent

Tomorrow's Buildings

 


 

Their feelings were digitally projected into a light field created by LEDs running through the spine of the cocoon.

It was primarily designed as an art installation but could be developed to measure how people felt about a particular building.

In an age when data collection is everywhere, the smartest offices will be the ones that realise measuring people's response to the building is as important as measuring how light and heat perform, says Arup's director of architecture, Nille Juul-Sorensen.

"It is not enough to measure the mechanics of the buildings, we also need to collect information about how people react to them," he tells the BBC.

"Too often architects hand over the keys to clients and lose track of how people actually feel about the building.

"They might, for instance, tell us that the canteen is wonderful but that it is dark and not nice to sit in one particular corner."

 

maanantai, 4. maaliskuu 2019

Indala Proximity Cards – Double security to access control system

What is Indala Proximity Cards?

Indala proximity cards is a card that like other cards uses proximity technology. However, it has an added feature of a verification and authentication process at the proximity reader which adds an extra layer of the security of access control system. And thus before sending the card details to the prior or host system, the Indala proximity cards filter out the unauthorized cards through its additional verification process.

 

Features of Indala Proximity Cards and its Reader

Indala proximity cards are designed in a rugged style so that they can be used in harsh environments too. The card works on contactless technology and can both read and write and requires a frequency of 125 kHz. The proximity reader’s use for reading the Indala proximity cards are structured with smart programming technology, unique designs, and uniform core codes. The proximity readers are available in various shapes such as linear, curve, arc, wave, etc. with multiple colors for the users. And the proximity readers are designed to give high quality and consistent performance. Indala proximity cards are compatible with standard 125 kHz Indala readers. Like passive proximity cards or proximity key fobs, Indala Proximity Cards also does not require any battery consumption. Moreover, the Indala proximity cards offer the feature of reading for infinite times. Indala proximity cards resemble credit cards and thus are convenient and easy to carry due to its compact size and thickness. And for granting access control system security, Indala proximity cards make use of web-based features such as data encryption and password protection.

Composition of Indala Proximity Cards for Double Layered Security

Indala Proximity Cards are designed with composite material construction that is unique and provides extra protection to its embedded core electronics. Internally it is structured with protective layers of polyester and externally by PVC layers. As these cards are layered both internally and externally, it enhances its resistance and strength and hence these can be used in high usage environments such in universities and factories.

Benefits of using Indala Proximity Cards

The imageable surface of the Indala proximity card allows printing of photos and graphics by the utilization of a dye sublimation printer. The imageable surface even allows printing of barcodes and thus the cards can be used for tracking time and attendance and costing of a job, etc. Along with the imageable surface, the Indala proximity cards can also be customized by placing a magnetic stripe on the card that increases its features and can be applied to other machines such as fuel dispensing, copies machine use, vending machines, etc. The Indala proximity cards are designed with higher layered of security. Thus cards of one user cannot be read by another user reader. Moreover, this advanced security has no additional charges and it improves the access control mechanism and can work with any physical and logical access control system. The Indala proximity cards are equipped with lifetime warranty and lifetime workmanship for defects in materials  

lauantai, 23. helmikuu 2019

Tracking tags aiding elderly care

We have talked a lot about Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags in the past.

They can be placed on stock in a supermarket, or items in the postal system, and you can keep tabs on them because of the tiny little radio transmitters and receivers.

And now, some researchers at Intel are using RFID to track people.

For many, a population of tagged and tracked citizens is the stuff that kept Orwell up all night, but the research here has noble intentions.

The system is dubbed Technology for Long Term Care (TLC), and aims to help you keep an eye on your elderly parents without the need to visit them every day.

One way of doing this is to see what the parent does around their home throughout the day, by tracking which household objects they use.

In a mock-up apartment, each object is fitted with a cheap RFID tag. "Mum" or "Dad" wear a special wrist strap which can detect which tags it is closest to.

A wrist strap which can detect RFID tags

RFID tags could help spot people who are struggling to live alone

By reporting what objects the parent is interacting with throughout the day, and for how long, the researchers say they can build up a pretty good picture of what they are doing.

Time spent with bathroom items indicates they are probably washing, while time spent with kitchen equipment means they are probably eating okay.

You can receive information about their movements over the internet, but can you be sure of what the person is doing?

 

"The state of the art right now is that you go to your mom's place and spend as much time as you need to figure out what's going on," says Intel researcher Matthai Philipose.

"If you spend an hour or two a week you've still got under 5% knowledge of what's going on.

"So an 85% accurate system like this still gives a huge improvement over the state of the art."

But he also says installing a webcam could intrude on the person's privacy and there is also the question of what to with the huge amounts of data the camera produces.

"If you want to know that something's happening in Mom's house using the camera, you have to sit there watching the video all the time," Mr Philipose adds.

"We've been pursuing what we call witness snippets. The sensor system in this case guesses that your Mom's taking her medication, but because you want to be really sure about that, it takes out just the three or four seconds of Mom taking her medication and shows just that part to you."

 

Tracking concerns

It has been argued that every successful deployment of RFID takes us closer to a world where tracking is the norm. But, is it possible to maintain our privacy in such a future?

In the Paul Allen Computer Labs at the University of Washington, steps are being taken to keep our personal information private.

Wearing an RFID badge, a man walks the four floors near his office and every few metres he passes one of the specially installed RFID sensors.

Each time a sensor pings his badge, the event shows up on the map, and his location is recorded.

 

His team has tagged many of their personal items, and specially written software produces lists of data about where and when each tag is spotted.

But how do you give yourself, and your friends, useful information about your location and that of your belongings, without invading the privacy of those who may be with you?

"One interesting and very useful application of RFID is to be able to track our belongings. So if I lend my book to somebody and later I need it, I would like to be able to see where my book is so I can go back and get it," says Assistant Professor Magdalena Balazinska.

"The problem is that by tagging my belongings and being able to see the location at any time, I can track people because I can lend them a tagged item and see that person's location by asking where that item is," she adds.

 

There are various ways to try to protect privacy and the team are working on several applications which allow you access, but not too much access, to all that wealth of information RFID promises.