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RFID Adds Security, Sophistication to Multitouch Exhibit Tables

Ideum is incorporating the technology into its latest multitouch display tables, providing improved administrative access and on-the-fly application switching.
By Amy Lipton
Jul 17, 2012Ideum, a manufacturer of custom multitouch exhibit tables for museums, universities, research labs, corporate boardrooms and other large, interactive environments, is building radio frequency identification technology into its fourth-generation models, thereby bringing functionality previously unavailable to the multitouch table market.

The Corrales, N.M.-based company expects to begin shipping its new RFID-enabled Pro and Platform touch tables by the end of this month, according to Jim Spadaccini, Ideum's CEO, "including units to the National Park Service, the state of North Dakota and Boeing Corp., which has been a client of ours since generation 2 of the tables."

Ideum's Pro touch table supports up to 40 simultaneous touch points.

An RFID reader is integrated into the side of each new model, says Jesse Sherr, Ideum's exhibit technician, and every customer receives one or two key fobs containing an RFID tag. "The fob works like a switch," Sherr explains. "It's customizable. You can set certain levels of access so, for instance, the computer in the table won't start unless the tag [in the fob] is in proximity."

"We use the ID Innovations ID-12 RFID reader, which reads passive tags at 125 kHz using EM Microelectronic's EM41xx or compatible format," says John Butler, Ideum's software developer. "The reader has a built-in antenna, but has a pin-out for an external antenna to increase range. The internal antenna is rated at about 12 centimeters."

The technology is brand-new to this line, Sherr notes. "We're the first in the market to add RFID [to multitouch tables]. We can see hundreds of potential uses, [mainly] in public environments, especially in adding an extra layer of security."

The customizable RFID system could also be programmed to activate additional layers of viewer information, Sherr says—in a map on an interactive surface of the display, for example—or to zoom in on a participatory portion of the screen.

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