Equipment and techniques used in radio-frequency identification (RFID) would be extended, according to a proposal, to enable short-range, two-way communication between electronic products and host computers. In one example of a typical contemplated application, the purpose of the short-range radio communication would be to transfer image data from a user's digital still or video camera to the user's computer for recording and/or processing. The concept is also applicable to consumer electronic products other than digital cameras (for example, cellular telephones, portable computers, or motion sensors in alarm systems), and to a variety of industrial and scientific sensors and other devices that generate data.

Until now, RFID has been used to exchange small amounts of mostly static information for identifying and tracking assets. Information pertaining to an asset (typically, an object in inventory to be tracked) is contained in miniature electronic circuitry in an RFID tag attached to the object. Conventional RFID equipment and techniques enable a host computer to read data from and, in some cases, to write data to, RFID tags, but they do not enable such additional functions as sending commands to, or retrieving possibly large quantities of dynamic data from, RFID-tagged devices. The proposal would enable such additional functions.

An RFID System Extended as Proposed would enable a host computer to control a sensory device and retrieve data stored in the memory of that device.
The figure schematically depicts an implementation of the proposal for a sensory device (e.g., a digital camera) that includes circuitry that converts sensory information to digital data. In addition to the basic sensory device, there would be a controller and a memory that would store the sensor data and/or data from the controller. The device would also be equipped with a conventional RFID chipset and antenna, which would communicate with a host computer via an RFID reader.

The controller would function partly as a communication interface, implementing two-way communication protocols at all levels (including RFID if needed) between the sensory device and the memory and between the host computer and the memory. The controller would perform power management and other tasks essential to operation, and would encrypt data if necessary.

The RFID chipset would handle RFID communications (including implementing RFID protocols in cooperation with the controller). As in ordinary RFID tags, the RFID chipset would accept RF power received via the antenna, convert the RF power to DC power, and distribute the power both within itself and to any other circuitry as needed. The RFID chipset would interact with the controller to pass data from the sensor memory to the host computer and/or to pass commands from the host computer.

The host computer would control the RFID reader. The host computer would contain application software and/or firmware that would enable the user to communicate with the sensory device and process data received from the sensory device.

This work was done by Thomas Jedry and Eric Archer of Caltech for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at under the Electronics/Computers category.

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to:

Innovative Technology Assets Management JPL Mail Stop 202-233 4800 Oak Grove Drive Pasadena, CA 91109-8099 (818) 354-2240 E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Refer to NPO-43144, volume and number of this NASA Tech Briefs issue, and the page number.