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A Truly Intelligent Home

Japan's Tagged World uses RFID to track occupants' activities, to reduce the chance they will leave a door unlocked, forget their wallets or lose their keys.
By Mark Roberti
Apr 01, 2011—Back in 2003, Yukihiro Shimada, president of GOV Co., a Japanese firm that develops software and sells computers and peripherals, was having dinner with Hiromitsu Shimakawa, a friend who is a professor at Ritsumeikan University, in Kyoto. They were talking about ubiquitous computing, and came up with the idea of a wearable radio frequency identification reader that would record each object someone touched within a home.

"We realized that if we could achieve this, we could use computers to analyze the logs of what was touched and guess what the person wants to do," Shimada says. "With other ubiquitous tools, users manipulate computers in various places. Our goal is the realization of a system where services are provided according to the context of each user, without the users doing anything extra."

A wearable RFID reader could recognize the tagged objects a person touches and anticipate his needs. (Photo courtesy of GOV Co.)
The two friends obtained the support of the university, GOV and other Japanese companies—Uchida Yoko, Octopath and Hitachi Industrial Equipment Systems—to launch Tagged World, which seeks to show how RFID could be used to provide health- and safety-related services within the home.

One such application involves the elderly. Shimada and the project team created a prototype in which they deployed RFID tags within a home, then equipped the occupant's clothing with RFID readers designed to read tags within close range. The readers pick up the IDs in the tagged objects and send them to a host system via a Bluetooth wireless connection. Then, software developed by Ritsumeikan University analyzes the individual's activities. "How much walking an elderly person does is a very good barometer of the person's health," Shimada says.
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