back to article Something weird to deck the Xmas tree with: 3D-printed Wi-Fi baubles

In an effort to make objects more chatty, boffins at the University of Washington have developed a way to create 3D-printed plastic baubles that can communicate over Wi-Fi with other devices, without batteries or electronics. The technique, developed by UW doctoral students Vikram Iyer and Justin Chan, in conjunction with UW …

  1. frank ly Silver badge

    Why?

    "In an effort to make objects more chatty, ..."

    Oh why!

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: Why?

      "In an effort to make objects more chatty, ..."

      Oh why!

      Simples. The more data they collect, the better they can profile you for ads.

      Take the detergent bottle example.

      Now they can tell via your smartphone that you're low, and also when you're near a store, put the two together and:

      [ping-ding] Just a reminder that while you're here, you need to get more dish washing liquid!

      This store is currently running a special on Sudzik™ Dishwashing liquid, 10% off if you use your iPhone to purchase it in the next half hour!

      That's Sudzik dishwashing liquid! Professionals use it!*

      [ping-ding] Just a reminder that while you're here, you need to get more dish washing liquid!

      This store is currently running a special on Sudzik™ Dishwashing liquid, 10% off if you use your iPhone to purchase it in the next 29 minutes!

      That's Sudzik dishwashing liquid! Professionals use it!*

      [ping-ding] Just a reminder that while you're here, you need to get more dish washing liquid!

      This store is currently running a special on Sudzik™ Dishwashing liquid...

      *Professional Marketers use it to make big money selling it to you.

      1. vir Silver badge

        Re: Why?

        Or: "We noticed you've run your dishwasher 5 times without using the Sudzik dishwashing liquid you purchased on 11/6/2017. Would you like to complete a short (14 question) customer survey so that we can help improve your dishwashing experience? Also, we can recommend these other fine (sponsored) dishwashing products."

        Or even the social media feed: "Dave Rogers just used 4.8ml of Scope mouthwash!, Sandra Martin used 0.5 oz of French's mustard!"

    2. The elephant in the room

      Re: Why?

      Would you like some toast?

  2. Mike 16 Silver badge

    45bps?

    Crikey! If they can up that by 1% they'll be able to communicate to a WWI (or older) Teletype(tm) machine.

    (They are also nearly all mechanical)

  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Go

    S**t applications true, but really very clever tech.

    So they've repurposed a WiFi system to act as the driver for a passive RF device like the thing, although a couple of orders narrower bandwidth.

    And reading magnetic strips, like the MICR on a check? That really is quite impressive.

    But the key is that it's to the right level of technology.

    People have been talking "printed electronics" and "roll to roll" printed electronics for decades now and it's gone nowhere.

    While the record for printed transistor speeds has been creeping up it's in the (low) 10s of MHz. IOW an early 90's ARM or Z80. Nowhere near the 100s or MHz/Ghz needed for all those koooool wireless devices people fantasize about .

    And the "gearwheel" device ID? Very neat (actually generating unique n bit codes that can start at any point is a non trivial exercise).

    The attractive part of this is the with the tech in the wide others may come up with worthwhile uses of this tech.

    1. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: S**t applications true, but really very clever tech.

      Exactly. Talk about tying it in to worthless IoT shit isn't the important thing here, the actual idea is really very neat - a nearly passive, unpowered device can transmit useful information to a receiver over a decent distance using existing technology. There are all kinds of ways that could be extremely useful without having to get useless consumer tat involved. Things like flow meters in water and air systems that can be made all internal with no need for any power or data connections but can still be polled at will would seriously revolutionary.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: S**t applications true, but really very clever tech.

        You can also see the spooks drooling over this sort of thing…

  4. TRT Silver badge

    What's...

    the association with Christmas tree baubles again?

  5. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Ultrasound might be more reliable

    You could make that sensor hit a little "bell" which creates an ultrasound ring. Unlike this, it doesn't need to be in a field to create a "backscatter" signal, but could actively transmit a signal by siphoning energy from the squirting.

    Early remote controls in the US were made that way. You pushed a button and a little ultrasonic glockenspiel would go off. Later those were replaced by transistorized generators.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Re: Ultrasound might be more reliable

      Hypothetically an object 8.5mm could resonate at 40KHz.

      How many cellphone speakers and microphones have bandwidth to that frequency?

  6. ravenviz Silver badge
    Angel

    indicates the need for a refill at a certain threshold

    What, a black line drawn on by a marker pen?

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