A Beginner’s Guide to Scanning

(This is the text of my weekly Loose Wire Service column, written mostly for newcomers to personal technology, and syndicated to newspapers like The Jakarta Post. Editors interested in carrying the service please feel free to email me.) A lot of folk ask me whether they should buy a scanner: those things that take bits …

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An End to the Anonymity of Trash?

Britain is quietly introducing RFID (Radio Frequency Identity) tags to rubbish bins (trash cans) in a bid to measure the individual waste of each household and charge them accordingly. Some Britons are up in arms about this, saying that households have not been informed and calling it an abuse of privacy. Is it? The UK’s …

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The Barcode Revolution

Pacarc, the guys who brought the Mitsubishi Jet Towel to the U.S. are now bringing over another piece of Japan: The design barcode. The design barcode, in the words of Pacarc’s James Allard, “seemed so obvious – utilize the last one-inch square of (nearly) blank real estate on product packing for branding or company image …

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RFID — Ready For Imminent Destruction?

RFID (radio frequency ID) tags are soon going to be in everything. But do we really know what we’re letting ourselves in for? Last month some Dutch researchers said they had created a virus capable of infecting RFID tags, an assertion that was poo-pooed by quite a few security folk. The researchers said the virus …

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China’s Facial Recognition System

China is about to launch a new facial recognition system “which will be used in public places, such as airports, post offices, customs entrances and even residential communities”, according to today’s China Daily (no URL available yet.) The invention, developed by Su Guangda, an Electronic Engineering Department professor with Beijing-based Tsinghua University, has been approved …

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Cracking RFID With Your Phone

RFID tags and their security implications are returning to centre stage again. Adi Shamir, professor of computer science at the Weizmann Institute, has shown that it’s possible to crack passwords on RFID tags using a cellphone. In theory this could mean anyone with a cellphone could monitor traffic between a tag and a reader and …

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Pay Money, Scan Barcodes With Your Cellphone

ScanZoom, which allows camera phone users to scan barcodes to compare prices in stores and obtain other information and services, is now available. It will work with most camera phones, but there’s a catch: You have to pay $10 for the software, $10 for a special macro zoom lens, and another $5 or so to …

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RFIDs And Shoplifters

Could RFID tags be used by shoplifters? Robert Lemos of CNET’s News.com writes from Las Vegas that a German technology consultant believes the Radio Frequency Identification tags “could be abused by hackers and tech-savvy shoplifters”. He quotes Lukas Grunwald, a senior consultant with DN-Systems Enterprise Internet Solutions GmbH, as telling a discussion at the Black …

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A Dream Of Intelligent Luggage Tags

Something I’ve long dreamt of: An intelligent luggage tag. Here’s a concept for a Bluetooth luggage tag that lights up when it’s in range of your Bluetooth gadget, helping you to identify it on the carousel. The Bluebird tag would contain additional information, so should it go astray the luggage could be returned to you. …

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More On Camera Phones As Bar Scanners

Here’s more on a subject I looked at in December (and then promptly forgot about): Using your camera phone as a bar code scanner. Wired says there are at least four software companies that have released applications that let you take a photo of a bar code, which will then trigger the download of coupons, …

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