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Tags that can Turn Everyday Objects into ‘Smart’ Devices

The tags can also be fashioned into thin keypads or smart home control panels that can be used to remotely operate WiFi-connected speakers, smart lights and other IoT appliances

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Printable tags can convert plain objects into 'smart' devices. Pixabay

Researchers have developed printable metal tags that can be attached to everyday objects and turn them into ‘smart’ Internet of Things (IoT) devices by reflecting WiFi signals.

The metal tags named “LiveTag”, made from patterns of copper foil printed onto thin, flexible, paper-like substrates, are designed to only reflect specific signals within in the WiFi frequency range.

“Our vision is to expand the IoT to go beyond just connecting smartphones, smartwatches and other high-end devices,” said senior author Xinyu Zhang, Professor at the University of California San Diego.

“We’re developing low-cost, battery-free, chipless, printable sensors that can include everyday objects as part of the IoT,” Zhang added.

The tags can be tacked onto plain objects that people touch and interact with every day, like water bottles, walls or doors. These plain objects then essentially become smart, connected devices that can signal a WiFi device whenever a user interacts with them.

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The team envisions using “LiveTag” technology to track human interaction with everyday objects. Pixabay

The tags can also be fashioned into thin keypads or smart home control panels that can be used to remotely operate WiFi-connected speakers, smart lights and other IoT appliances.

As a proof of concept, the team used “LiveTag” to create a paper-thin music player controller complete with a play/pause button, next track button and sliding bar for tuning volume.

The buttons and sliding bar each consist of at least one metal tag so touching any of them sends signals to a WiFi device, suggests the study presented at the recent USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation Conference.

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The researchers also adapted “LiveTag” as a hydration monitor and attached it to a plastic water bottle and showed that it could be used to track a user’s water intake by monitoring the water level in the bottle.

On a broader scope, the team envisions using “LiveTag” technology to track human interaction with everyday objects. For example, “LiveTag” could potentially be used as an inexpensive way to assess the recovery of patients who have suffered from stroke. (IANS)

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Google Photos Now Lets Users Manually Tag People in Photos

The says it doesn't share this information between accounts, according to The Verge

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The Google name is displayed outside the company's office in London, Britain. VOA

Several months after confirming that manually tagging people on Google Photos will become a reality, the company has finally rolled out the feature in which users will be able to manually add in many of the faces that its algorithm misses out on.

Those hoping that the feature would allow you to point at any area in an image and add a tag to it, will be disappointed.

Face tagging feature still relies on the tech giant’s algorithm and its ability to detect a person or pet’s face to begin with, Android Police reported on Wednesday.

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A man walks past a Google sign outside with a span of the Bay Bridge at rear in San Francisco, May 1, 2019. VOA

To manually tag people, open Google Photos, look for any picture with people or pets in it, and swipe up or tap the overflow key on the top right. This brings up the updated EXIF panel with the People section, recognised persons’ avatars, and an edit icon or pen on the right.

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As far as privacy is concerned, Google will automatically scan users’ photos for faces if they have the “face grouping” feature turned on.

The says it doesn’t share this information between accounts, according to The Verge. (IANS)