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Visualizing RFID

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the tufte-would-be-proud dept.

Privacy 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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... for a given antenna and receiver sensitivity (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29728963)

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

The Lotus Eater (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29729079)

The liquid is in your throat
For hopeless delight

After all you fell in love with death,
Life has aborted.
All you've had and all you became,
The night is calling, you pray forth.

The barren waste is your land
Your crops, they were sown to die

The skin is a mirror
The eyes hollow with ignorance
Health runs from your lips
Sucked in and safe in a world of sleep

All those years caring for a liar
A benefit road that is winding higher
You're a moth too close to the fire

You are stuck in a route of confusion
Changing and waiting and seeking the truth of it all

Fleeing your sorrows
Pushing your spirit away

Sick of the weakness of the psyche
A whisper from the heart of evil luring them all into despair
Resenting the goods of a savior

And cries out
For the restless will also die

A selection culled from the damned, drawing a lifeline of one
A friend died in your room and sought the birth of a follower

O brother, you are a killer and you target yourself
I wish you'd never come back for us to see the beckoning end

And the pride of a mother brought flaws in a mother's son
And the love from a father was used by a father's son

Overheard us talking in a smoke of lost hope
The language of a parting so clear and so true
Overheard us talking

Re:... for a given antenna and receiver sensitivit (3, Informative)

Ecyrd (51952) | about 5 years ago | (#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:... for a given antenna and receiver sensitivit (2, Informative)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | about 5 years ago | (#29731209)

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)

Interesting, but not amazing (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29728989)

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

Re:Interesting, but not amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29729097)

It's a practical, reproducible way of visualizing E and B fields, just like you learned in high school and college electromagnetics. Cool stuff.

Re:Interesting, but not amazing (1)

digitig (1056110) | about 5 years ago | (#29730103)

Except the E and B fields being visualised are not there. The tag is passive, it does not broadcast. You've missed the point of what they're doing.

Re:Interesting, but not amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29732643)

There are 2 meanings of passive. An HF tag being read is coupled to the field reading it. It is actively modulating the field, but it's not radiating. It's not a radio at all. It's passive in that sense, but not really, regardless of what terms are used in the specs.

Passive snooping is reading the field modulation by a device that is not powered by the field itself, and this can be done at greater distances by sophisticated receivers.

Re:Interesting, but not amazing (3, Insightful)

digitig (1056110) | about 5 years ago | (#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.

This is totally lame (-1, Flamebait)

entertainment (749138) | about 5 years ago | (#29729005)

Like a Jr High science fair project for the mentally disabled. They are paying this guy for what? Nothing to see here, move along....

Re:This is totally lame (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29729025)

I was going to say something similar.

Re:This is totally lame (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29729169)

How was copper wiring invented? Two Jews fighting over a penny!

New Technique (4, Funny)

cjfs (1253208) | about 5 years ago | (#29729023)

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

Re:New Technique (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29729091)

Well, I still roam around our office with a pocket-yagi in my pants. People give me strange looks, and I just say I've been prescribed certain pills. All the while, I'm reading everybody's door-passes. You know, it's far better to use somebody else's pass than your own when you want to utilize the office 'sick-bed' after a big booze up on the weekend.

Re:New Technique (2, Interesting)

noundi (1044080) | about 5 years ago | (#29729259)

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.

ehh (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29729029)

visualize my cock, pounding your ass. Visualize my sweaty balls slapping against your taint. Visualize my cum flooding your colon. You're a fag.

Just More Social Engineering..... (1)

Bob_Who (926234) | about 5 years ago | (#29729067)

We've already been tagged with cellular and our credit line. Anything else is just marketing research and behavioral analysis.

Come on (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | about 5 years ago | (#29729159)

Didn't you see "Minority Report?"

Better link to video (2, Informative)

schlick (73861) | about 5 years ago | (#29729093)

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

Re:Better link to video (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | about 5 years ago | (#29731147)

nice but is there a non vimeo version?

Matlab (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29729095)

You could do this in Matlab pretty easy.

Re:Matlab (1, Interesting)

GumphMaster (772693) | about 5 years ago | (#29729213)

For a theoretical/measured depiction they could just read the reader manufacturer's data sheet, which will almost certainly contain a diagram of the antenna sensitivity pattern in a couple of planes and probably some concrete figures.

Re:Matlab (4, Insightful)

NixieBunny (859050) | about 5 years ago | (#29729301)

The main reason they did this is to map out the field *interaction* between the RFID tag and the reader, which is not a trivial thing to visualize based on the two data sheets.

Re:Matlab (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29729523)

Hah, good luck.

Re:Matlab (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29729919)

One of the primary disadvantages of near-field RFID is that the environment (particularly ferrous metals) will have a huge influence on the field pattern. The main advantage of this technique is that the field pattern can be visualised in-situ as opposed to the free-space depictions provided in the data sheets.
Modelling the influence of the environment/tag on the near-field pattern with MATLAB may not be impossible, but it will be inaccurate and/or require many more man-hours than this technique.

Simple method for visualizing RFID (3, Funny)

syousef (465911) | about 5 years ago | (#29729173)

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

video style.. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29729179)

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.

Re:video style.. (1)

Baseman (87197) | about 5 years ago | (#29729273)

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

Re:video style.. (1)

digitig (1056110) | about 5 years ago | (#29730131)

These guys are in the media field!

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

Re:video style.. (1)

Fiar (938208) | about 5 years ago | (#29730143)

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.

The field patterns of loop antennas (2, Interesting)

Technician (215283) | about 5 years ago | (#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:The field patterns of loop antennas (2, Interesting)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about 5 years ago | (#29729315)

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.

Re:The field patterns of loop antennas (3, Interesting)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about 5 years ago | (#29729361)

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.

What makes this cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29736853) that now we can devise a device that warns us when we approach an RFID reader so we can avoid it!

The RIFD probe!

Oh look honey, my probe is blinking, we'd better go back the way we came.

Radio wave camera (1)

lawpoop (604919) | about 5 years ago | (#29740049)

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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