300 Billion RFID Tags

The future is not yet decided.

Currently, the AR movement is in the early stages of its Darwinian development.  Lots of little critters are crawling out from the seas to feast upon the abundance of food.  One of these critters is RFID tags.  Once I thought RFID tags were the path to the future.  I’m no longer a believer.

Social Hallucinations found this nice video of someone playing with an RFID tag reader on an iPhone and some RFID tags.


iPhone RFID: object-based media from timo on Vimeo.

The problem I see with RFID tags as a means to connect the real world to the digital one is a matter of cost.  Looking only at the United States, we have 300 million people.  If we assumed each person might need to access a 1000 RFID tags a year (products, equipment, vehicles, etc), then it would take 300 billion RFID tags.  I’m sure in a year, 200 billion of them would be in a landfill somewhere.  The costs are staggering.

In comparison, object recognition, which is becoming more robust, only costs the brain power to come up with the right coding.  I won’t waste the space of putting the video here, because its been shown all over the web, but Pattie Maes & Pranav Mistry have show us how powerful object recognition can be.

RFID tags might be a fun toy for now, but I’m betting on the object recognition critter to eat the RFID tag one.

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