If you need information, the Internet offers a wealth of resources. But if you're hunting down a person or a thing, a computer's not much help. That may soon change. Electronic tags promise to create what some call the "Internet of things," in which objects and people are connected through a virtual network.
To see what this future world would be like, a pilot project involving dozens of volunteers in the University of Washington's computer science building provides the next step in social networking, wirelessly monitoring people and things in a closed environment. Beginning in March, volunteer students, engineers and staff will wear electronic tags on their clothing and belongings to sense their location every five seconds throughout much of the six-story building. The information will be saved to a database, published to Web pages and used in various custom tools. The project is one of the largest experiments looking at wireless tags in a social setting.
The RFID Ecosystem project aims to create a world that many technology experts predict is just on the horizon, said project leader Magda Balazinska, a UW assistant professor of computer science and engineering. The project explores the use of radio-frequency identification, or RFID, tags in a social environment. The team has installed some 200 antennas in the Paul Allen Center for Computer Science and Engineering. Early next month researchers will begin recruiting 50 volunteers from about 400 people who regularly use the building.
Question is - is this the type of future we really want to be heading towards? Or an inevitable progression of present technological trends?
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