Printed Metal Tags to Transform Anything into Smart Device

Tuesday, 21 August, 2018 - 05:30
London - Asharq Al-Awsat

Printed metal tags can be installed on any of everyday life objects so that you can turn them into a smart device and use them as part of the Internet of Things technology.

The metal tags are made from patterns of copper foil printed onto thin, flexible, paper-like substrates and are made to reflect Wi-Fi signals. The tags work essentially like "mirrors" that reflect signals from a Wi-Fi router.

According to the German News Agency, when a user's finger touches these mirrors, it disturbs the reflected Wi-Fi signals in such a way that can be remotely sensed by a Wi-Fi receiver, like a smartphone.

Researchers from the University of San Diego explain that the tags can be tacked onto plain objects that people touch and interact with every day, like water bottles, walls or doors. These plain objects then essentially become smart, connected devices that can signal a Wi-Fi device whenever a user interacts with them, and used to remotely control different home appliances as part of the “smart home” technologies.

The Techxplore website cited Xinyu Zhang, professor at the San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering as saying: “Our vision is to expand the Internet of Things to go beyond just connecting smartphones, smartwatches and other high-end devices. We're developing low-cost, battery-free, chipless, printable sensors that can include everyday objects as part of the Internet of Things."

The research team named the technology "LiveTag." Researchers say that by changing the type of material they're made of and the pattern in which they're printed, they can redesign the tags to reflect either Bluetooth, LTE or cellular signals.

The tags have no batteries, silicon chips, or any discrete electronic components, so they require hardly any maintenance, no batteries to change, no circuits to fix.

The "Internet objects" means the possibility of connecting various objects in daily life via Internet to facilitate their use and service remotely.

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