When the fubball is bugged

"Active RFID"Now the tags are sparking back

Whether supermarket labels or travel passports: not only cows are now marked with RFID. The technology has long since moved beyond the purely passive chip, which lives only from the interspersed radio energy: advanced radio transponders are equipped with their own battery or even rechargeable batteries.

When you think of soccer and RFID, the first thing that comes to mind are the tickets for the Soccer World Cup that are tagged with identification chips. But it’s not just the tickets that are "bugged", The ball is also: In order to determine beyond doubt whether the round ball has really landed in the square or just rolled over the sideline, the soccer balls are to contain their own transponders – and so are the players.

When the fubball is bugged

Electronic golf: Demo by the Fraunhofer Institute at the 2005 Consumer Electronics Fair

In this way, the matches of the soccer world championship can be followed up to the now undisputed foul in the 89th minute. The tickets can be replayed as a computer simulation in the first minute. And in the future, it will be impossible for fans to take home a souvenir of a soccer ball that was accidentally kicked into the audience, and the question of where the substitute was left will be quickly resolved. However, the popular discussions and scolding of the referees will not take place. Hopefully this will not take the fun out of the game for all the self-proclaimed golf experts.

In a football you can hide even a complete pirate transmitter; the only technical problem is the resistance to shaking. Golf balls are trickier, but the Fraunhofer Institute has now also successfully equipped them with integrated sensors and transmitters connected to them, which can cover a distance of five meters in the ISM and WLAN bands at 2.4 GHz. They were first presented at the International Radio Exhibition 2005 in Berlin and are not used to retrieve golf balls that have been played into the botany, but to measure the force and speed of impact. Thus, no golfer can talk his way out of a strong headwind when the weibe Corpus delicti once again landed in a coffee cup of a golf course resident.

When the fubball is bugged

That too: intelligent golf balls

The necessary lithium-ion batteries, which Bullith Batteries originally developed for the medical market and is now installing in sports equipment, are expected to cost less than two euros in the long term, as the trade journal Markt technology reported. In addition, these are also supposed to be resistant to deep discharge, unlike today’s commercially available rechargeable batteries; if it rains for three weeks and the golf ball is left in the cupboard, this cannot damage the battery.

The concept of RFID is also changing: car keys, which identify themselves by radio and open the doors remotely, are now part of this, as are wireless tire prere sensors, which light up a warning on the dashboard if there is not enough air in the tire, without requiring a wire connection from the tire to the electronics, which is naturally difficult to realize. The "Snuffle chips" are used in retail not so much to check out purchases at the checkout, for which they are still too expensive anyway – they had to cost less than a cent to be generally introduced – as to optimize internal warehousing and identify delivered pallets of goods.

View of the "listening device" in the golf ball

Chips are also used in ski lockers and for access to parking garages or hotel rooms. Patients are to be monitored fully automatically in the hospital or during walks, with cups, toothbrushes, medicine boxes, chairs or toilet seats transmitting whether and when they are being used.

The electronics should become cheaper by the fact that polymers printed on paper or foil result in antenna, chip and also battery. The result is not as powerful as the devices known today, but it is much cheaper. But what the consequences will be if, at some point, the purchasing departments are able to talk to each other and to the budgetary authorities remains an open question.