University of Washington researchers are using 10-cent radio-frequency tags to turn pieces of paper into connected devices.

Share story

More and more household items are becoming connected to the Internet, and simple pieces of paper could be next.

Researchers at the University of Washington worked with Disney to create small stickers that can be pressed onto any piece of paper to give it sensing capabilities that let it connect to the digital world. A paper could be made into a wand, for example, and change the music in a room with a quick wave of the hand.

UW computer-science and engineering doctoral students, along with Disney Research and Carnegie Mellon researchers, created a way to attach small radio frequency, or RFID, tags onto pieces of paper. The sensor tags can then communicate with a reader device placed in the room to interpret gestures and perform commands.

The team behind the project hopes it will be useful for quick polls in classrooms and to spread digital connections to many items just by sticking or drawing RFID antennas on them.

ā€œA piece of paper is still by far one of the most ubiquitous mediums,ā€ lead author and UW student Hanchuan Li said in a statement. ā€œIf RFID tags can make interfaces as simple, flexible and cheap as paper, it makes good sense to deploy those tags anywhere.ā€

The UW is presenting its research Thursday at an Association for Computing Machinery conference in San Jose.