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Holy Cow!

By davebirch posted Feb 20 2007 at 8:10 AM

[Dave Birch] This was an absolutely inevitable development. We spend a lot of time thinking about the identity of people, but the identities of animals (and things) are just as important to the future economy (and society).  Now that someone appears to have developed magnetic ink tattoos that can be read with a RFID reader, there's another building block in place for doing this.  There's also more pressure than ever to have some sensible and reasoned debate about the models for the deployment and use of such technology.

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The company, Somark, have injected and read a "Biocompatible Chipless RFID Ink tattooā€¯ within the skin of cattle and laboratory rats.  The technology is initially aimed at the livestock industry to help identify and track cattle, particularly with respect of (a.k.a. Mad Cow Disease) scares.

This reminded me of another recent story.  When I saw that some farmers in the US were complaining that there cows are going to have to have a GPS chip attached to their ears, I thought it sounded pretty interesting. Here in the land of the maddest cows, I'm sure such a chip would find a ready market: I can picture a screen at the Ministry of Agriculture (or whatever it's called now) showing the location of the nations cows much as the national air traffic control centre does for planes.  And while farmers might well moan that the scheme is an invasion of their rights and privacy, it didn't seem like a bad idea.  Perhaps it could be extended to turkeys.  So I decided to investigate further, and it turns out to be a very boring story after all.  Thanks to the miracle of the the web, I was able to find the actual presentation to the farmers.

If you read it, you'll see that there is, of course, no GPS in sight.  The tags are RFID tags storing a unique ID number only and with a range of a metre.  It's a non-story, but an illustration of how anything related to identity is not only misunderstood by technologically-challenged journalists but automatically assumed to be sinister in some way.

Meanwhile, back at the "Biocompatible Chipless RFID Ink", I think that a Bluetooth reader for this ink would be great, because then you could link it to your phone and if you met someone with an interesting or memorable tattoo, then you could just wave the reader over it and get a copy to use as wallpaper or for a picture message.

My opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public.
[posted with ecto]

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