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« Identity thieves | Main | ID-Day »

Faking it

By Dave Birch posted Mar 4 2008 at 9:40 PM
[Dave Birch] I was in a discussion about this "internet of things" again today. It reminded me about my recent visit to the Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) European Centre of Excellence, which is in Halifax. They have a super facility with a shop, bank, hospital, town hall, library and main street set up on one floor of what I imagine to be a disused mill building. Their vision is to be able to demonstrate AIDC technologies (including some of our favourites such as biometrics and RFID) in "real" environments. During my tour, I came across a notable use of RFID tagging that flagged up -- once again -- just how widespread the use of RFID is likely to become and just how many niches there are for it to fill. I'm not skipping over the privacy issues. Nor, for that matter, are the European Commission...

One source told me that a requirement from the EU for consumers to positively opt-in to RFID in-store and for RFID tags to be decommissioned at the point-of-sale would kill RFID at item-level in Europe. Such a move, the source added, would put us internationally behind the curve, cost thousands of jobs in the RFID industry and be a terrible waste of a very useful opportunity.

[From Is the EU about to publish RFID privacy proposals? (Tune into RFID)]

Some form of RFID code of conduct -- such as the one that Toby Stephens wrote for Digital Identity Management -- is a good thing, but the opt-in and decommissioning ideas are not the right way forward.

Just to prove I was there, here's a picture of me visiting their bank, which may give you a clue as to the source of some of their funding! The bank branch is going to be kitted out by HBOS shortly.


Now here's a picture of a picture (and me).


This caught my eye as I was wandering around and I wanted to share it with digital identity denizens, because it's a fascinating case study of using RFID in the real/counterfeit problem space. The picture was painted by John Myatt. If you don't recognise the name...

From talented chart-topping songwriter, to Brixton prison for being involved in ‘the biggest art fraud of the 20th century’, John Myatt’s incredible life is now the subject of a Hollywood movie and his artistic talent the focus of a major TV series.

[From John Myatt the artist cited as the biggest art fraud for the 20th century]

The picture has RFID tags bonded to it, but in his case the purpose of the tags is to prove not only that the picture is a fake, rather than real, but that it's a John Myatt fake and not someone else's fake. So, basically, the idea is to use a combination of primary and secondary identification technologies to connect product and provenance in such a way as to prove that the picture is a fake! Great stuff.

A note to foreign readers: Halifax is a little off the beaten track (in fact, it is so far off of the beaten track that my N95 could not get a GPS fix) but it is near Leeds. There's no direct train service to London, which is tedious, so you have to change at Leeds or (as we did) get a car from Wakefield. But if you do get a chance to visit the AIDC Centre of Excellence sometime, please do.

These 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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