[extropy-chat] RFID smartcard passports and driver's licences

Adrian Tymes wingcat at pacbell.net
Wed Apr 6 23:40:27 UTC 2005

--- Hal Finney <hal at finney.org> wrote:
> The newer RFID chips can be read from many feet away and will be used
> for remote sensing of products in warehouses, and possibly many other
> applications.

> RFID chips are unpowered until brought into the vicinity of the
> reader.
> So they can't do too much monitoring of routine activities.  The main
> thing they could store is a record of when and how they had been
> activated
> in the past.

Random thought: how small can readers get?  Could, say, you combine a
small solar panel and an extremely dumb reader into a piece of smart
dust?  For small enough/low power enough devices, even standard light
bulbs give enough power to solar panels to power the device.  Each of
these grains of smart dust would be just capable of powering any nearby
RFIDs, and of sending signals of what RFIDs it got an echo from to the
nearby smart dust; network back to a controller far away from the RFID,
or to a relay box attached to standard Ethernet or other 'Net feed to
put it in communication with an even further distant controller.
Result: your position is *very* well known...at least within the smart
dust's space, but if the dust is cheap enough, that could cover quite a
volume, no?

Though I wonder how well that would scale.  Monitoring the insides of a
restricted-access government building is one thing.  It might cost
about as much to cover the sidewalks of a single city block.  Multiply
by the number of blocks in a large city, then probably at least triple
it to cover the roads, parks, libraries, and other public spaces, and I
wonder if it would still be affordable?  If not, then it's a non-issue,
but if so, then whoever could see the network's reports would have
GPS-grade-or-better position information on anyone with a RFID tag not
on private property.  (Negotiations to put the tags on private property
might be problematic, but a city already has right of access to its
sidewalks, roads, parks, libraries, et cetera.)

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