TagMe makes everyday objects respond to touch

MIT’s Fluid Interfaces group has created a wearable device called TagMe which allows users to make everyday objects respond to touch. The device consists of a wristband, an accompanying app for phones or tablets and the use of RFID tags that can be attached to surfaces and objects. The user can program a number of responses if the object is touched, or if it is not touched within a certain timeframe.

In a research paper, the TagMe project is described as “attempts to make it easy and convenient for end users to extend their interfaces to the objects and surfaces around them. What is different in our approach is we combine the idea of social awareness systems with ubiquitous computing, wearable devices and RFID tagged objects. Thereby, it becomes easy for people to build systems to stay in touch with others in low effort ways.”

In a practical sense, this creates a personal approach to the Internet of Things by offering the user an easy way of programming RFID tags to place in their environment. The first time the 3D printed bracelet reads a tag, the user needs to select what action is to be taken when that tag is read or not read. The user specifies a message to be sent, a means to send it (such as a text or Facebook message, Tweet or email) and an addressee (which can be chosen from the user’s contact list).

Examples of the technology are to switch lights and other appliances on or off by placing an RFID tag anywhere that is convenient to the user, reminding users to do something at a certain time (such as to take a prescription pill with an RFID tag on the bottle) or logging the behaviour of people or animals.

The MIT team plan to make the wearable technology smaller (such as a ring) and more powerful.