Thirteen years ago, in an article for Scientific American, the late Mark Weiser, then my colleague at Xerox PARC, outlined his bold vision of "ubiquitous computing": small computers would be embedded in everyday objects all around us and, using wireless connections, would respond to our presence, desires and needs without being actively manipulated. This network of mobile and fixed devices would do things for us automatically and so invisibly that we would notice only their effects. Weiser called such systems "calm technology," because they would make it easier for us to focus on our work and other activities, instead of demanding that we interact with and control them, as the typical PC does today.
In a home equipped with this kind of technology, readers strategically placed in the bedroom, the bathroom door frame, the stairwell and the refrigerator would detect the identifying data in microchip tags sewn into your clothes and embedded in the packaging of foods and send the data to a home computer, which would take action based on that information.
This article was originally published with the title RFID: A Key to Automating Everything.