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Slow Down, You're Moving Too Fast

RFID is giving new meaning to the term "snail mail."
By Andrew Price
Jun 05, 2007—By Beth Bacheldor

Most of us are guilty of dashing off an e-mail without thinking about either the content or the way it's written. Vicky Isley and Paul Smith, two computer artists in the United Kingdom, want to use RFID technology to put some thought back into communication. Their project, dubbed Real Snail Mail, was created for the Tagged exhibit in October 2006 at the Space Media Arts in London. It featured a computer model of RFID-tagged snails delivering e-mail.

RFID chips glued to the snails' shells deliver electronic messages in real snail time.
Now the artists are designing an RFID system using real snails with RFID tags affixed to their backs. Each tag will be encoded with a unique ID number that will be stored in a database. The snails will be contained in a large glass tank, with RFID interrogators positioned at either end.

At the Real Snail Mail Web site, visitors will be able to write e-mail messages that will be entered into a queue on the database. When a tagged snail meanders into the range of an interrogator, it will read the snail's ID, check the database and assign a message to it. If the snail makes it to the tank's other end, the interrogator there will read the tag and trigger the delivery of the e-mail message associated with it.

"We are hoping that Real Snail Mail adds weight and gravity to the messages that are sent," says Isley.
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