Rf id mon amour 1.0 is a kit that allows designers, artists and architects to create interactive exhibitions without fuss nor any knowledge of programming or electronics.

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The tagged can be attached to any object in need of a digital identity. With the kit, you can "map" each rfid tag to a QuickTime video just by placing them on the reader and selecting a file. To associate a file with an object, place the object on the reader and tell the software which file (audio, web page, Flash animation or video) should be triggered.

The kit comes with an USB based RFID player, Mac OS X compatible software, 10 RFID tags and some sample videos.

Developed by Interaction lab. Images.

Via reluct.

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Graduation show of the IDII in Milan, project number 8.

Ana Camila Amorim's uni.me project is a mobile communication service that supports the user in the management of their social network and the definition of who, how and how much others can access to them and their information.

The main touch point of the service is the so-called "Presence Phone". Each element on the screen corresponds to a contact and its size represents the amount of communication shared between him/her and the device’s owner. Contacts are organized around tags.

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Other people availability to you is visible by the color change of the bubbles. In case a contact is not on the visible area of the screen, you can search for it based on name or related tag. Several tags can be combined in order to reduce the number of results. Once you've found the contact, you can open the contextual menu where one of the options is ‘see details’.

The notification of missed communication appears in a pop-up window listing the missed events by chronological order. Events are identified in relation to the current time (e.g. 5 minutes. ago).

Incoming calls will be notified in full screen with clear information: name, photo, company logo, most recent tags (personal, automatic, local and communication) and last communication event.

Text messages can be responded through the dedicated inbox on the contact detail, by adding a field on top of the previews message. Other people can be added to this message and copies of it also appear on their inboxes.

uni.me comprises of:

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1. Personal card

Each user is issued with a single ‘identifier’ that responds to all of his/her digital communication needs (voice, text). When initiating communication the caller/ sender uses a single ID and a distribution engine diverts it to the most convenient device according to the callee’s preferences.

Contact initiation can be done either by online invitation or card swapping. By accepting a uni.me card and approaching it to the phone, the receiver allows the link to be created. Each uni.me card has a RFID tag, that when in proximity to a NFC enabled device, validates the user in the card owner’s contact list.

2. Hot spots

uni.me also allows you to communicate their level of availability to different people according to your context and willingness to be reached. This definition can be done manually or automatically by defining different profiles that are activated during specific periods of the day, or by location awareness or other day to day events. RFID tags placed in different locations (working place, home, cinema, church, etc.) allow the phone to be aware of its environment and adjust accordingly.

Video scenarios.

56tyhy.jpgDrew Hemment created the Futuresonic International Festival in 1995. As AHRC Research Fellow at University of Salford, he developed Loca, a collaborative arts-based project on mobile media and surveillance. He is also a founder member of PLAN - The Pervasive and Locative Arts Network.

Together with José Luis de Vicente and Óscar Abril Ascaso, Drew Hemment curated the SonarMatica exhibition at Sonar this year.

Always On, Always Everywhere

Drew started by telling that, two years ago, he visited the Baja Beach Club, a club that represented the "cutting-edge of locative media." The Barcelona's club was the first in the world to use an RFID implant in place of VIP cards. Punters were invited to have the VIP VeriChip (the same kind of chip injected under the skin of pets) injected under their skin. Just by having your arm scanned, you can be recognised as a VIP, skip the queues at the door and pay for your drinks at the end of the night. That was the theory. When Hemment visited the club he found out that the whole story was more of a publicity stunt. Computers were not set up. It looked like a scam. VeriChip has often been associated with rather spectacular and somewhat dubious ideas such as the proposals to have migrants chipped or to tag the bodies of the victims of the hurricane Katrina.

Drew Hemment managed to interview Conrad Chase, the owner of the club (who later became a star of the Gran Hermano, the Spanish version of Big Brother.) The interview is online (i'm still wondering how he managed not to laugh during the interview). Conrad explains that the injection makes people very unique and positions them as trendsetters: "everyone has piercings and tattoos, not very many people have the VIP chip." Read also the whole story of Drew's visit at the club: Last night an Arphid saved my life.

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VIP Chip system in action and Conrad Chase + a friend

In some ways, the Baja Beach Club rfid experiment is the cutting edge of Locative Media: it is not happening in a gallery or a consumer electronics fair but in a night club.

According to Drew Hemment, we've arrived at a crucial moment. Locative Media technologies are now breaking out of the hacker gulag. In 2003, the technologies were mostly in the hands of programmers and artists. Some social and art project that were still conceptual a few years ago are now coming into the mainstream. Now the situation is evolving. He gave two examples from the UK: mobile phone operator O2 is now offering Streetmap. What was being discussed and done in small workshop (e.g. PLAN) is now developed on large scale and polished by a major mobile phone operator. The other example is satellite navigation: it was the must have item last christmas. Google Earth is now a concept that most people grasp.

It's important to be able to engage in this and we shouldn't leave the whole development in the sole hands of the people who want to make money out of these technologies.

Hemment then gave the example of a group of German activists: FoeBuD. A MIT study has revealed that the Germans were the most naturally resistant to the massive implementation of RFID.

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FoeBuD recently took the industry wrong-footed. The supermarket chain Metro set up the Future Store in Rheinberg to showcase how new technologies can re-shape the "shopping experience." They were offering shoppers cards that looked like normal loyalty cards but contained RFID chips. Without telling the customers about the presence of the chip. FoeBuD found out about it and wrote the supermarket chain who stepped back and added on the card a mention of the presence of the chip inside the card. FoeBuD had taken picture of the card before and after and issued a press release asking if customers could really trust a company that had lied to them. In Germany, there's thus a more mature debate that doesn't exist in other countries.

How can we respond to the technology? By showing different uses of it, by learning its limits and pushing them, by adding to the debate, etc. Being afraid of a technology is probably as bad as not knowing about it. We should try to embed social values into the RFID technology. The technology is still young, which leaves us with a small window of opportunities to get on, influence and propose alternative uses that were not foreseen right from the start. An example of something similar: Acid House: old technology used for something else. If we wait too long, some possibilites will be closed, others will be lost.

During Futuresonic, an international conference will explore the implications of RFID on July 21-22 in Manchester UK.

Images from the Barcelona club courtesy of Drew Hemment.

Fourth project from the IDII graduation show.

Stint, by Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, is a music sharing service that combines physical representions of links to people’s virtual music and a widget that talks to the main music application.

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Each “stint? represents one friend and is made of leather. By giving it to a friend, one links it to the main player, collecting the stints into a network. By pressing each one, a song from that person’s music collection that she has sent to you, is played. A song can be sent to a friend by holding both the stint containing that music and the one representing the friend we want to send it to.

The Stints with a richer interaction get used and worn, showing the history of a relationship. More details of this relationship can be obtained by checking the online widget. It will show the listening the origin of each song as well as who you have sent it to and how often, how long ago your friend has played a particular song. This visualization will help you choose more appropriate music for that person or to discover what their musical tastes are. Stint creates a meaningful relationship between the user, the container, the content and how they affect each other, allowing for richer and long-term relationships to exist with high-tech devices.

Technical description:
Each player comes with a set of tokens that have active RFID tags inside each one. The elements can be clipped to each other. The play function is activated whenever the element is pressed in its center and a soft snap is felt. When the user wants to pass a song on to another element he holds both of the stints down until a small chirp in his headphones signals him/her that a transfer has been made.

The main player represents the user’s own music collection and holds most of the main functionalities. A USB bit is hidden inside and the headphone jack is located on the “head? of the stint. The fast forward and backward buttons are also included on the surface of the stint in the shape of little “wings?. This leather element has 2 snaps at the bottom that allow for a change in functionality to occur when switching from an “open? channel where other people can listen in to what the person is listening to.

Her thesis blog. Images of her project at the show.

CALL A BALL is a pretty neat and very simple concept developed by three young Dutch designers: Janis Pönisch (now famous for his Dynamic Terrain), Sören Grünert and Kirsten Hüsig.

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You're in the street and feel a sudden urge to play football? Just walk over to the nearest of the CALL A BALL kiosk, a kind of ball dispenser. You then send an SMS detailing the kiosk's number to CALL A BALLs communication center, which then sends a message authorizing the dispensing of a ball. Thanks to the RFID chip embedded in the ball, the center knows at all times where the ball is.

If you want to find people with whom to play ball, all you have to do is register as a 'baseplayer' at one or more kiosks. Then send out an SMS containing the codeword 'Challenge' to the kiosks of your choice, which will then relay it to your teammates and opponents.

Video.

Via Bright.

A few days ago i was appalled to read that Scott Silverman, from VeriChip, had proposed implanting RFID tags in immigrant and guest workers. During an interview on "Fox & Friends," he suggested using their RFID implants to register workers at the border, and then verify their identities in the workplace.

In a related story, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe allegedly said he would consider having Colombian seasonal workers have microchips implanted in their bodies before they are permitted to enter the US for seasonal work.

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Today came the news that Texas plans to enlist web users worldwide in its fight against illegal immigration by offering live surveillance footage of the Mexican border on the internet.

The cameras will be trained on sections of the 1,000-mile (1,600km) border known to be favoured by illegal immigrants. Web users who spot a suspicious crossing will be able to alert the authorities by telephoning a number free of charge.

Meanwhile, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has sent National Guard soldiers to his state's border with Mexico to bolster security along the Mexican border.

Besides, a group of US civilian volunteers that has been patrolling the Mexican border began last week building a fence along a section of the frontier. The Minutemen group started erecting the fence on privately-owned land in Arizona on Saturday, saying it is "doing the job the federal government will not do".

Via quien vigila al vigilante, see networked_performance and space and culture for an english version of the story.

Image from Border film project.

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