Strange Days in Storageville

Beckham moves stateside and RFID goes Orwellian - is this for real?

January 12, 2007

1 Min Read
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5:45 PM -- Today really has been a day of surprises. I was only just getting over the shock of David Beckham's transfer to the L.A. Galaxy soccer team, when I came across what must be one of the strangest applications of technology I have ever seen.

St.Louis-based startup Somark Innovations is apparently developing a chipless RFID technology based on an ink tattoo.

When applied to the skin, the ink creates a unique ID that can apparently be identified by a reader device. The idea behind the technology is that it can be used to track the movement of cattle, a major issue for the livestock industry after the recent scares with mad-cow disease.

Longer term, Somark is looking to extend the reach of its product to tracking military personnel, dogs, cats, and even cuts of meat. This is serious stuff, though -- the startup, according to a note on its Website, is currently raising Series A funding.

Orwellian though Somark's technology is, it got me thinking. Beckham, as any reader of the British tabloids will be aware, is an avid collector of body art. The former England soccer captain has at least nine tattoos to his name, ranging from his wife's name written (and reportedly misspelled) in Sanskrit, to an angel on his back.With the LA Galaxy said to be paying the former England captain $50 million a year to ply his trade in the MLS, what better way for the team to keep track of their prize acquisition? Stick a tattoo, ideally the Galaxy logo, somewhere on his person, and away you go.

Finally, a use for RFID for those of us who can't bend it quite like Becks can.

James Rogers, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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