An open source RFID suite can let you age in place

We need to build applications that live in the air, that protect us, lower the cost of living, and let us age in place. With open source, hopefully, we'll soon get them.

For several years I have written, off-and-on, about a concept I call the World of Always On.

This has nothing to do with Tony Perkins' Always On Network. Instead, the idea is that you use wireless networks as an application platform, connecting sensors and other RFID chips with software to monitor your health, your property, and your home.

Since then we have seen several application suites develop. Intel has pioneered the idea of using this scheme to monitor Alzheimer's patients, and it is moving into the market for aging-in-place.

What keeps innovation from happening, in my opinion, is a lack of support for do-it-yourself solutions. Cisco's release of an open source wireless router was helpful, but it really wasn't their idea, and it hasn't drawn marketing support.

With that as background let me now praise the work Pramari has begun at the University of Arkansas (Sooey Pig!) aimed at building a complete open source RFID suite. Primari's Rifidi, an RFID simulator, will be combined with Arkie's TagCentric, an RFID middleware platform.

The eventual result should be something companies and individuals can build on together.

Hobbyists might homebrew systems to monitor their nurseries, or water their gardens, or turn lights on-and-off at odd intervals while they're out for the night.

Start-ups might work to bring these and other ideas to market, integrating them into solutions which are built on top of one another, until you have something truly useful, and cost-effective.

That's my hope, anyway. We need to build applications that live in the air, that protect us, lower the cost of living, and let us age in place. With open source, hopefully, we'll soon get them.

 

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