Tradional sticky notes turn digital with RFID tags


Written on Monday, February 11, 2008 by Gemini

Indian inventor creates sticky notes with RFID tags that can not only SMS you your reminders, but can also help you locate books and key-chains from around your home!!!

Imagine you scribbled a sticky note about an upcoming doctor’s appointment. You place the note on your home desktop computer, only to forget about the appointment. But guess what? The note reminds you about your appointment via a friendly text message on your mobile phone.

Indeed, such technology will soon be possible, thanks to Pranav Mistry, an alumnus of IIT-Bombay.

Sticky notes are one of the most ubiquitous and convenient items in our daily lives. By simply scribbling and sticking them on a surface, they help us manage our ‘to-do’ lists and capture short reminders or information that we may need in the near future. But with our lives going digital, pen and paper are fast losing their place of importance.

“I love sticky notes,” says Mistry, a graduate student at the US-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab. “They are handy and quick. But I wanted them to be active, remind me of my appointments, and help me manage my world better; so I just made them a little smart.” Mistry, who hails from Palanpur in Gujarat, is the inventor of ‘Quickies’ – intelligent sticky notes that can be digitally searched, located, and can send reminders and messages.

The goal of Quickies is to bring one of the most useful inventions of the 20th century – the sticky note – into the digital age, says Mistry. Quickies connect remotely to a computer, collaborate seamlessly, and update you via various sources, such as sending an SMS on your mobile phone.

How does it work?

The process is simple: As the user notes down a reminder on a physical sticky note, the information is simultaneously captured and stored as a digital note on a computer. A computer program, coupled with digital-pen hardware, enables this capturing. The computer program processes the digital note, recognises and converts the hand-written text into digital text, and applies some computational methods to understand the context and the content of the information.

The program is also smart. For example, in a scenario where a note was written about an appointment, it updates the user’s calendar and also reminds him of the scheduled appointment via an SMS on his mobile phone. The Quickies can also be used as location tags for items such as books. “One of the most interesting features is ‘findability’. At the back of each of the Quickies is a unique RFID tag, which makes it possible to locate them in the house or office,” Mistry says.

But wouldn’t the Quickies be rendered useless without the digital pen? Not so. “The core innovation that drives ‘Quickies’ lies in the algorithms and intelligence,” Mistry says. “Although there are many digital pens which can be used with the technology, a small scanner would eliminate their need, and a normal pen could be used in that setup. Just to let you know, we have a version where you don’t need to be near a computer.”

And what would the cost be?

“At present, the system costs us around $75 (Rs 3,000), although that can be cut by half,” he says.

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