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Visualizing RFID 35

jamie found a video on Warren Ellis's blog introducing a new way to visualize RFID fields. The film is by Timo Arnall and Jack Schulze. The subject is introduced in words on the BERG site (a design consultancy); the tech behind it is explored at Touch, a project that experiments with near-field communications. "This image is a photographic mapping of the readable volume of a radio field from an RFID reader. The black component in the image is an RFID reader... The camera has been fixed in its position and the reader photographed. Using a tag connected to an LED we paint in the edges of the readable volume with a long exposure and animate them to show the form."
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Visualizing RFID

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Remember, anything radio is not theoretically limited in range. Only practical implementations have set limits.

    • by Ecyrd ( 51952 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @05:29AM (#29729691)

      Yes, but e.g. ISO 14443 RFID passive responses (e.g. the ones used in ICAO-specified RFID passports and paypass cards) very quickly go below ambient background noise, in effect limiting even the theoretical range to 1-2 m for all but most exotic radio-noise free environments.

      Passive RFID is only half-radio, really. ;-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      but neither does sound, light, your body(ok so using QM is cheating) but background noise quickly makes practical limits, hard limits (you can edge around the limit but if the signal is noisey and the noise is noisey there is not much you can do)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Whilst I never thought of doing this with RF fields, it's not exactly amazing. It is, however, very interesting!

    • by digitig ( 1056110 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @07:08AM (#29730101)
      The subtlety seems to be that they're not plotting an RF field, they're plotting the volume in which the passive tag will respond to an RF field (of a given strength). It's another level of abstraction. Yes, once somebody has come up with the idea then the implementation looks simple enough, but the idea is quite remarkable.
  • by cjfs ( 1253208 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @02:36AM (#29729023) Homepage Journal

    Using their technique, we can now profile our cards to provide maximum protection with minimum tinfoil!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by noundi ( 1044080 )

      Using their technique, we can now profile our cards to provide maximum protection with minimum tinfoil!

      I have one of those metal card holders which, at first, I was disappointed at since it isolated my RFID keycard at work, because it would be very convenient to just flash the whole card holder. Then I came to my senses and realised that it was a good thing that I always chose when the card was readable and when it was't. It was one of those moments when you just appreciate what you have.

  • We've already been tagged with cellular and our credit line. Anything else is just marketing research and behavioral analysis.
  • Better link to video (Score:3, Informative)

    by schlick ( 73861 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @02:50AM (#29729093)

    Here is the link to the non-embedded video. []

  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @03:07AM (#29729173) Journal

    1. Pick up RFID chip
    2. Look at it. It's an RFID chip! You have just visualized it.
    3. ???
    4. Profit

  • video style.. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Are these guys geeks or in the media field? That's an incredibly well shot video if its just geeks producing it.
    And as for some haters calling this lame- I think its very interesting to have a visual idea of how an everyday product works. At least we know swiping our RFID cards flat will make for easier reading.

    • by Baseman ( 87197 )

      These guys are in the media field!
      I also enjoy getting a new perspective on everyday objects.
      I think the video is great.

      • These guys are in the media field!

        So now we need some sort of a light probe to measure the outline of that field!

    • by Fiar ( 938208 )
      Agreed, very well presented, and nice info. I do wonder how much money they spent to get those "results" though. I also approve of the proposed symbol at the end derived from the field shape being used for RFID.
  • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @03:25AM (#29729245)

    The free field pattern near a loop antenna is nothing new. RFID or any other application such as a transmitter for the heairng impaired makes no difference.

    A 3D plot of a simple loop antenna can be seen on this page; []
    The 3D plot is near the bottom of the page.
    It it resembles the magnetic field of a bar magnet or a coil of wire with a current, that is no supprise.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Does it bother other people too that we lack good methods of visualizing 3D/4D data? like a sensor value dependent on spacetime v(x, t)?

      Can anyone hint me to good methods? I know there are some very experimental 3D-displays.

    • by buchner.johannes ( 1139593 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @03:54AM (#29729361) Homepage Journal

      Electromagnetism is not new, no. Your link shows a field produced by a antenna, which is only a theoretical concept (abstracting away the measuring sensor).
      What the pictures in TFA show is the dependency of the field vs. the direction of the measuring device, i.e. a slice of a vector field B(x).

      But I do believe that the makers were not interested in the technical aspect, but a design/architectural/artistic aspect.

  • Is this device a radio wave camera? I've been looking for a way to get a 2-D image of radio waves. Am I correct in thinking that the wave output from an antenna is a 1-dimensional output ( two if you count time ) ? I'd like to try to get pictures of wave interference []

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