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MIT and Disney Researchers Create Faster RFID Toys

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Maybe it was not Disney’s best idea to get into publishing digital games, but that doesn’t mean the company has decided to call it quits when it comes to researching the best ways to make those.

Disney researchers have partnered up with researchers from MIT and Carnegie Mellon, and they have come up with a solution that would make RFID-based toys and games significantly faster, as well as more efficient.

How? They simply got rid of the need to include batteries just to monitor objects. For those unfamiliar with RFID, let us explain; it’s not exactly a novelty that some toys and games make use of the ‘radio wave based wireless technology’ – also known as RFID.

For exemplification, Skylanders and some of Nintendo’s games, like Amiibos, can be included in this category, seeing that they utilize the NFC technology – a subset of RFID.

But RFID has some drawbacks when it comes to games because it requires some amount of power to broadcast its state or presence. Including a battery sounds like the easiest solution, but it increases costs and bulks the objects.

Alternatively, RFIDs can do without the battery by passively receiving energy from a RFID reader. However, the disadvantage here is that the produced delays are significant, up to several minutes, because of the low power transmitted.

Knowing the context, the solution of Disney Research’s “RapID” can be better understood. They attempted not to introduce a new type of RFID, but utilize algorithms to decrease the delay.

Thanks to the Monte Carlo sampling and to probabilistic modeling, the RapID experiences delays to only 200 milliseconds at most. But in practice, such a short delay translates into near instantaneous reactions from the console or computer that uses the RFID reader.

This discovery could have huge implications for toys, games, and other interactive systems. For one, the shelf RFID tags – which can be used for any purpose – gets rid of the need to buy custom tags or whatnot.

At the same time, such objects won’t need any battery to boost the reading accuracy and speed. Consequently, RFID tags proved useful “for real-time games of tic-tac-toe ping-pong, using real-world objects that get represented digitally in real time.”
Image Source: Tech Crunch

About Wayne Murphy

Writer and specialized in Mobile Phones (iOS, Android, BB etc), who was with the TND team since it's inception. Other than Blogging, he is also pursuing his graduation on Business Management at CA, California University. All posts by Wayne

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