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17. Whisky Again - Warren Ellis [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Warren Ellis

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17. Whisky Again [May. 18th, 2011|07:22 am]
Warren Ellis

Whisky again.  Jack Schulze again. He sat down with me a couple of years ago while I was very drunk (it was the WIRED UK magazine launch, and the whisky was unwisely free) and showed me some footage on his phone. He’d been in Norway with Timo Arnall (also now of BERG), all folded up (Jack is very tall and weighs about as much as a bottle of free whisky) in a darkened Oslo basement screwing around with RFID tags.

You’ve all seen RFIDs – Radio Frequency Identification tags, the square pieces of paper used as security devices. The big swirly bit is the antenna, the bit in the middle is the circuit. An interrogator floods a region with radio. When the tag hits the field, it soaks up the energy and uses it to squeeze out its own signal. And that’s how you get caught stealing a dirty book.

On the phone, he’s showing me something I haven’t seen before. A visualisation of the readable volume of the EM field the RFID tag produces when it’s hit by an interrogator. It seems bloody huge. Much bigger and more energetic than you’d imagine.  On the iPhone, I’m watching ghost mushrooms rise out of physical objects.

Suddenly I had a new understanding of that small wave of body-modification enthusiasts who implanted themselves with magnets, so that they could actually feel when they were passing through electromagnetic fields (like security gates).

(Automatically crossposted from warrenellis.com. Feel free to comment here or at my message board Whitechapel. If anything in this post looks weird, it's because LJ is run on steampipes and rubber bands -- please click through to the main site.)

[User Picture]From: patient_0
2011-05-18 11:42 pm (UTC)
I (most unfortunately) work in Data Management, and RFIDS are the new big thing along with digital conversion.

Some of our new facilities are all-RFID, so you'll have 200k square feet of warehouse space filled with 800,000 cartons, each broadcasting its own little signal. They brought in this $100k+ machine called a Sherlock which looks kinda like a Taiwanese Dalek on casters with a monitor slapped on top.

You can wheel this thing down an aisle and it will scan every single RFID on both sides. You can program it to locate specific cartons, or to scan and input the data from the RFID label, effectively scanning cartons to and from the shelf.

...In my facility, we still have to do this BY HAND with an RS-Mobile scanner.
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