Great demos, thought leaders, and vendors offering every ingredient to bake an awesome Internet of Things. That’s what I encountered at the 3rd Annual Auto-iD & Sensing Solutions Expo hosted by the MIT Media Labs. Flomio got the invite late last week (thanks for that, Stephen) so had to hustle a bit to get out to Boston in time.
My favorite demo was something from the MIT Media Labs. It was a Picture Station that knew who you were. Basically everyone was given a badge with a UHF RFID tag from Zebra Technologies. Printed and encoded by a p330i, the badges had your name and company details. Then the Picture Station would recognize you and help complete your profile. Check it out:
I thought the UI/UX was pretty awesome. Simple and fun. Attendees engaged with it consistently and enjoyed making different faces on camera. Checking it out from behind though, I was floored by how much hardware was involved.
The interactive display had an integrated PC module. That was tied to at Mac Mini which was talking to a ThingMagic UHF reader. The reader can detect over 100 badges up to 20ft in front of the display, so as you saw in the video it had to prompt you with a list before taking your picture.
I wouldn’t be surprised if it cost them $10,000 in hardware alone.
The cool part is you would know who was crowding you (Sanjay, why you creeping?). A great proof-of-concept that gets you thinking of the future of interactive advertising, but computing over-kill IMHO. I wouldn’t be surprised if it cost them $10,000 in hardware alone.
The ThingMagic booth had several interesting items but this reader caught my eye. It’s also a UHF Gen2 reader but low power enough to plug into a USB port. So for instance, the same badge* that detected us at the Picture Station could now be read by a laptop at a booth.
SIDE NOTE:This just happens to be the reader that SXSW2012 used for their registration process a few weeks ago. It was all an attempt at reducing ticket fraud but it turned out to be a pain since everyone was forced to wait in long lines (3hrs+) to pickup their badges. A “skip the line” feature for NFC-phone owners would have been really nice.
*If you’re freaked out by all this long-range tracking tech, you can always stick your badge in one of these wallets and roll incognito 🙂
My take away from the Expo is that NFC and UHF RFID are starting to cross paths in a lot of applications. Their incompatibility will soon become a huge pain for businesses building their systems around one tech versus another. Case in point, SXSW choosing UHF RFID and not being able to offer a “skip the line” feature to NFC phone owners. The technology is there, but knowing how to use it is key. Flomio is working hard to cover all these technologies with our platform. This will enable businesses to create technology-agnostic solutions that will be essentially future proof.