Moscow 4 August 1945. The European chapter of World War II was over, and the United States and the Soviet Union were considering their future relations.
At the US Embassy, a group of young boys from the Soviet Union’s Young Pioneer Organization presented a gift as a symbol of friendship between the two world powers.
He presented a handmade US seal to the then US ambassador to Russia, Avril Herriman. It was later known as ‘The Thing’.
Obviously, Herriman’s office may have discovered a decorative piece made of wood that had no secret equipment installed in it, but had no wires or batteries, so what could have hurt it?
As a result, Herriman placed the item on the wall of his study room at a prominent location, where he kept listening to his personal talk for the next seven years.
They could never have imagined that the device was made by Leon Thriman, one of the 20th century’s most intelligent minds.
He was known for his revolutionary electric instrument music in his name that could be played without touching.
He lived in the United States with his wife, Livinia Williams, but then returned to the Soviet Union in 1938. His wife later said that Leon had been kidnapped. Whatever the case, they were immediately put to work in a prison camp where they were forced to design ‘The Thing’, along with other listening devices.
Not long after, US radio operators found that the American ambassador’s talk was broadcasting on the waves. But these broadcasts were unpredictable: no secret device was found when searching the embassy to find out where the radio waves were broadcasting. The search for this secret was going to take a while.
The ambassador’s device was inside “The Thing”, a listening device. And it was a very simple antenna mounted on a silver membrane made of the mic, and hidden in a small box. It had no battery or any other source of energy because The Thing didn’t need it.
The device would have been active when Soviet scientists were throwing radio waves toward the US Embassy. It receives energy from the signals coming in and transmits the conversation back. This device would also be muted when the Soviet signal was switched off.
Like Theriamine’s mysterious instrumental music, The Thing may seem like a technological puzzle, but the concept of a device that sends information back and forth through its radio signals is much broader.
In the age of modern technology, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags are being used almost everywhere.
I also have a tag in my passport and a similar tag in my credit card that can be paid by turning around an RFID reader.
Library books also often have tags, while airlines often use them to track passenger luggage and to prevent shops from being stolen.
Some of them have a current source, but like Theriamine’s device, most of them get energy from a radio signal coming to them. This reduces their cost and the reason for their popularity is the low price.
During World War II, allied aircraft used the same form of RFID. When a radar throws waves on an aircraft, a device called a transponder sends a signal back to the radar, meaning, “We are your companions, don’t kill us.”
But as the size of silicone circuits began to decrease, the idea of tags that you could put on things far less expensive than the aircraft was also realized.
Like bar codes, RFID tags can also be used to quickly identify something.
But unlike bar codes, they can be automatically scanned and do not need to be adjusted to a certain light. Some tags can be read from several feet away, some may be read in the form of errors but also in collections.
And more than just a bar code can be saved so that not only something can be identified, but in this tag, it can also be saved where and for what day. Was created.
RFID tags were also used in the 1970s to monitor railroads and livestock.
But by the early 2000s, Tesco, Wal-Mart and the US Department of Defense began to demand that their suppliers impose tags on the goods supplied. As a result, RFID tags appeared everywhere.
Some enthusiastic people even applied RFID tags to their bodies, which made it easier for them to open doors or ride in the subway with just a hand gesture.
In 1999, Kevin Ashton, who worked at Procter & Gamble, a home-grown goods company, invented a new term for all the excitement surrounding RFID. He said that RFID will eventually take us to the Internet of Things (IoT), a world in which everything is connected to something else.
But soon all the excitement about RFID turned to glowing products, including smartphones, smartwatches, smart thermostats, smart speakers and even smart cars, introduced in 2007.
All of these products are innovative, have great computing power, but in addition, they are expensive and require considerable energy.
When we talk about the Internet of Things today, we are not talking about RFID, but rather those devices. It will be a world of sophisticated engineering in which your toaster blouse will be in contact with your fridge while remote-controlled sex toys will also know about your habits that we consider very personal.
We should probably not be surprised at living in an era that sociologists call Shoshana Zubov Surveillance Capitalism or ‘spying capitalism’. In this age, keeping track of people’s personal lives is a popular business model.
But amidst all this excitement and worry, RFID is quietly engaged in its work, and I can bet that its peak days are still ahead.
Ashton’s view of the Internet of Things was simple: computers need data if they want to understand the real world, not just the electronic world.
Humans have much better things to do than work with this data, so things will be created that will automatically provide the computer with the information that will make the real world more understandable in the digital world.
Many people now have smartphones but things don’t have smartphones. RFID can be a low-cost way to track these things.
If most tags would just say to your passing RFID reader that ‘I’m here!’, Then that would be enough for computers to learn about the real world.
Tags can open doors, track tools, tools, and even drugs, automate production, and make small payments quicker.
RFID may not have the same strength and flexibility as a smartwatch or a self-propelled car, but it is low cost and small technology, so low cost and so small that it can be used to tag hundreds of billions of things.
And it won’t even need batteries. Anyone who thinks that doesn’t matter should read about Leon Thieerman again.