The age of 3D printing, when every object so created can be personalized, will increase the need for tags to keep track of everything. Happily, the same 3D printing process used to produce an object can simultaneously generate an internal, invisible tag, say scientists at Carnegie Mellon University and Microsoft Research.
These internal tags, which the researchers have dubbed InfraStructs, can be read with an imaging system using terahertz (THz) radiation, which can safely penetrate many common materials. In proof-of-concept experiments, Karl Willis, a recent Ph.D. graduate in computational design at Carnegie Mellon, and Andy Wilson, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, have demonstrated several possible tag designs and the THz imaging and data processing steps necessary to read them.
The tags themselves come at no extra cost, Willis said, but THz imaging, still in its infancy, can be pricey. As this imaging technology matures and becomes more affordable, however, InfraStructs could be used for a number of applications beyond keeping track of inventory or making point-of-sale transactions.
For instance, they could help mobile robots recognize or differentiate between things. They might encode information into custom accessories used in game systems. Or, they might enable new tabletop computing scenarios in which objects can be sensed regardless of whether they are stacked, buried or inserted inside other objects.
Willis and Wilson will present their findings July 25 at SIGGRAPH 2013, the International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, in Anaheim, Calif.
Unlike conventional manufacturing, every single thing produced with digital fabrication techniques, such as 3D printing and laser cutting, can differ from the next, even in subtle ways. "You probably don't want to have visible barcodes or QR codes on every object you make," Willis said. Inserting a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag into each component would be a possibility, he acknowledged, but for now that would require interrupting the normal 3D printing process.
InfraStructs, by contrast, can be made with the same layer-by-layer process used for producing the object. In some cases, information can be encoded by positioning bubbles or voids inside the object; those voids reflect THz radiation. In other cases, materials that are reflective of THz radiation might be used to encode the information or create images inside the object.
"The ability to embed 3D patterns gives designers new opportunities in creating objects that are meant to be sensed and tracked," Wilson said. "One idea is to embed a code just under the surface of the object, so that a THz beam can recover its position on the surface, wherever it strikes the object."
THz radiation falls between microwaves and infrared light on the electromagnetic spectrum. It can penetrate many common plastics, papers and textiles but, unlike X-rays, does not harm biological tissues. THz imaging has yet to be fully commercialized. NASA famously has used it for inspecting the protective tiles on the space shuttle, detecting the same sort of voids Willis and Wilson have now used to encode information with InfraStructs.
Willis' work on InfraStructs occurred while he was an intern at Microsoft Research. Additional research on materials, fabrication processes and imaging techniques will be necessary if the tags are to be widely adopted. InfraStructs aim to take advantage of trends toward high-speed electronics at THz frequencies and the rapidly growing capabilities of digital fabrication.
For more information, visit the project website at http://www.karlddwillis.com/projects/infrastructs/ or the Microsoft Research Blog.
About Carnegie Mellon University: Carnegie Mellon is a private, internationally ranked research university with programs in areas ranging from science, technology and business, to public policy, the humanities and the arts. More than 12,000 students in the university's seven schools and colleges benefit from a small student-to-faculty ratio and an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. A global university, Carnegie Mellon has campuses in Pittsburgh, Pa., California's Silicon Valley and Qatar, and programs in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Mexico. The university recently completed "Inspire Innovation: The Campaign for Carnegie Mellon University," exceeding its $1 billion goal to build its endowment, support faculty, students and innovative research, and enhance the physical campus with equipment and facility improvements. The campaign closed June 30, 2013.
Byron Spice | EurekAlert!
Scientists develop machine-learning method to predict the behavior of molecules
11.10.2017 | New York University
A new method for the 3-D printing of living tissues
16.08.2017 | University of Oxford
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences