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Project explores the 'internet of things'

5 May 2010

A barcode

Researchers from UCL have developed a digital tool that allows people to attach memories to objects in the form of text, audio or video.

The team at UCL's Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) is part of the 'Tales of Things' project, a collaboration between five universities.

'Tales of Things' encourages users to 'tag' objects with digital media using the sort of technology found in Oyster Cards and bar codes.

Users can upload an image of the object and an associated memory in the form of text, audio or video to the project's website – talesofthings.com – or using a dedicated iPhone application.

Once the user has entered this information they receive a unique barcode which they can attach to the object.

Objects are tagged using RFID tags and QR Codes, which are used in products such as the Oyster Card and on consumer goods.

This code can be read by taking a photograph from a mobile phone or webcam, linking the object back to its entry on the website.

The tags will enable future generations to have a greater understanding of the object’s past and offer a new way of preserving social history.

Researchers hope the project will offer a new way for people to place more value on their own objects in an increasingly disposable economy.

The project explores the implications of the 'internet of things' – the idea of a network of objects traceable at anytime.

Dr Andy Hudson-Smith, from the UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, said: "CASA has built the technology for the project, allowing the construction of a database suitable for the 'internet of things'.

"It has developed the concept of making QR Codes read/writable for the development of memories and custom built an iPhone application to interact with any tagged object.

"UCL has tagged BBC Broadcasting House as part of the Radio 4 show Click On – the first building in the world to record the memories of its occupants.

"The project has notable potential, in terms of both global research and commercial opportunities."

The project is part of research run by TOTeM, a collaboration between UCL, Edinburgh College of Art, Brunel University, the University Of Dundee and the University of Salford.

For more information about Tales of Things, follow the link above.

Image: a barcode


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