Dispatches from Andyland "Your reality, sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever!" — The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

May 23, 2009

I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in. It stops my mind from wandering (where it will go..)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrew @ 10:00 am

My wife just said to me: “You have all of these ideas. If only the could be used for good rather than evil. Actually, I never see them used for evil either, but if they could wind up being used for good…”

It all started last night when my mother-in-law called saying she misplaced her mobile phone and her keys, again. (I know there are limits to how much I can I can laugh at this.) I was thinking “well a thin RFID tag could probably be taped to the back of her phone.What’s the range of a RFID reader.” Apparently not far enough. I see 10mm and 20mm versions for an unpowered RFID tag, and I’m afraid that a powered tag will run out of battery just when we really need it. So I started asking Michelle if she new what RFIDs were and described them. (they are different than security tags, explained how they can be used in the supply chain, a bit about privacy concernts, etc. Not quite what she was expecting for breakfast conversation, if she has any expectations of what I might come up with anymore.)  But the distance thing was a problem to still solve. Then it came to me, The iRobot Create! Its basically a Roomba without the vacuum cleaner parts. It can wander around the house with the RFID reader and stop when it is close to the lost item. Michelle then points out that the keys may have been outside while gardening, and my response to that was that I’d just need a different sort of device to wander outside.

OK, so now my plan is to have , if not quite an army at least a tactical team of special purpose robots scouring the property for a set of missing keys and a mobile phone. At this point, I’m willing to concede my wife’s original point.  Especially since its been done before and failed like in WoZ , and several products currently on the market.

The phone was found. It was underneath the drivers seat of the car. (when those luxury car ads boast on how quiet they are, they are usually describing how little of the engine and traffic noise gets from outside the car in, not how you can’t hear a phone ringing inside the car when you are outside.) And probably enough metal betwen it to thwart a low power RF reader. Hm, the phone probably has bluetooth built in, that can give it a bit more range. I’ve seen apps for Bluetooth proximity detection before, but usually the other way (set the computer screensaver on when the phone (and the person holding the phone) goes away from the computer.) For that matter, as long as the phone’s battery is still good (which is what has thwarted me in the past) the phone itself is a long range communication device and aGPS, we could just leveage geolocation stuff that people are already working on… (and here we go again.)

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