25 July 2006

Welcome to America's Next Top Male Model Contest...
... otherwise known as my presentation to the Raleigh IEEE Embedded group.

The Presentation: or

Links mentioned in the presentation:
Bruce Sterling, "The Internet of Things" interview.
Metro Group, Store of the Future and Innovation Center.
Over 2000 RFID applications at IDTechEx's Knowledgebase.
Local RFID experts for help with your RFID project: http://www.rfidresolution.com/ , Morrisville, NC.
Tin foil wallet available at DIFRwear.com

RFID Trade Groups, for and against.
EPC Global: RFID industry group.
CASPIAN Consumer Group: anti-RFID group.

Sirit RFID Reader modules for embedding in you application:
Sirit Plug-n-play HF modules.
Sirit UHF Module .

Sirit IN510 Information (coming soon).

23 July 2006

Types of RFID tags.

TI HF tag.

TI UHF Gen2 tag:

Rafsec (Philips silicon) ISO18000-6B tag

Derived from samsys.com :

Frequency Range LF 125 KHz or 134 KHz
HF 13.56 MHz UHF 868 - 915 MHz Microwave 2.45 GHz & 5.8 GHz
Approx. Tag cost
greater $1
50 cents to $1
~$10 for active tags
Approx. Reader cost
$200 $1500 $1500
Max Read Range (Passive Tags) 1 ft or less
3 ft
16 ft 10 ft
Maximum Tag Populations

16 (w/ anti-collision tags)
50 500+ ?
General Characteristics Relatively expensive, even at high volumes. Low frequency requires a longer more expensive copper antenna. Additionally, inductive tags are more expensive than a capacitive tag. Least susceptible to performance degradations from metal and liquids, though read range is very short. Less expensive than inductive LF tags. Relatively short read range and slower data rates when compared to higher frequencies. Best suited for application that do not require long range reading of multiple tags. In large volumes, UHF tags have the potential for being cheaper than LF and HF tags due to recent advances in IC design. Offers good balance between range and performance - especially for reading multiple tags. Similar characteristics to the UHF tag but with faster read rates. A drawback to this band is that microwave transmissions are the most susceptible to performance degradations due to metal and liquids, among other materials. Offers the most directional signal, ideal for certain applications.
Tag Power Source Generally passive tags only, using inductive coupling Generally passive tags only, using inductive or capacitive coupling Active tags with integral battery or passive tags using capacitive, E-field coupling Active tags with integral battery or passive tags using capacitive, E-field coupling
Typical Applications Today Access control, animal tracking, vehicle immobilizers, POS application including SpeedPass "Smart Cards", Item-level tracking including baggage handling (Non-US), libraries Pallet tracking, electric toll collection, baggage handling (US) SCM, electronic toll collection
Notes Largest install base due to the mature nature of low frequency, inductive transponders Currently the most widely available worldwide, due mainly to the relatively wide adoption of smart cards Europe allows 868 MHz whereas the US permits operation at 915MHz, but at higher power levels. Japan uses 950 Khz.
Data Rate Slower Faster
Ability to read near metal or wet surfaces Better Worse
Passive Tag Size Larger Smaller

18 July 2006

RFID tags as virus carriers -- a bit of RFID FUD.

A recent paper has caused another round privacy and security fears of RFID.

From FreeMarketNews.com :

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 - FreeMarketNews.com

Another new front in computer viruses is on the horizon, all wrapped up in the efforts at "inventory control" at your local retailers. According to a BBC News story, the latest batch of malicious hackers might target Radio Frequency ID tags to attack
computer systems.
Expert security researchers have now successfully infected an RFID tag with a computer virus, thus demonstrating how vulnerable this technology might be to such hackers. They urged tag manufacturers to introduce safeguards to guard against RFID-borne bugs. Andrew Tanenbaum, one of the researchers in the computer science department at Amsterdam's Free University that did the work, reportedly said their efforts were "intended as a wake-up call. We ask the RFID industry to design systems that are secure."
When this story first made the rounds a few weeks ago, I googled around and found the referenced research paper.

It appears that the "virus" exploits a particular application software that interfaces to a particular RFID reader.

The "virus" is SQL database commands embedded in the user data space of an HF RFID transponder. The user data is to contain a data field such as a persons name. For example: instead of "Damon Corbin" the tag contains "Damon Corbin'; UPDATE ContainerContents SET..." or something like that, confusing the application causing unintended or malicious behavior.

The problem isn't with RFID, but with poorly written application code that fails to adequately validate it's input.