GB2485846A - A tactile-membrane switch for a radio-frequency identification tag (RFID) - Google Patents

A tactile-membrane switch for a radio-frequency identification tag (RFID) Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2485846A
GB2485846A GB1020195.2A GB201020195A GB2485846A GB 2485846 A GB2485846 A GB 2485846A GB 201020195 A GB201020195 A GB 201020195A GB 2485846 A GB2485846 A GB 2485846A
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United Kingdom
Prior art keywords
reid
switch
reid tag
tag
user
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Withdrawn
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GB1020195.2A
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GB201020195D0 (en
Inventor
Edward John Hayes-Holgate
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INTERWAY COMP CONSULTANTS Ltd
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INTERWAY COMP CONSULTANTS Ltd
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Application filed by INTERWAY COMP CONSULTANTS Ltd filed Critical INTERWAY COMP CONSULTANTS Ltd
Priority to GB1020195.2A priority Critical patent/GB2485846A/en
Publication of GB201020195D0 publication Critical patent/GB201020195D0/en
Publication of GB2485846A publication Critical patent/GB2485846A/en
Application status is Withdrawn legal-status Critical

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06KRECOGNITION OF DATA; PRESENTATION OF DATA; RECORD CARRIERS; HANDLING RECORD CARRIERS
    • G06K19/00Record carriers for use with machines and with at least a part designed to carry digital markings
    • G06K19/06Record carriers for use with machines and with at least a part designed to carry digital markings characterised by the kind of the digital marking, e.g. shape, nature, code
    • G06K19/067Record carriers with conductive marks, printed circuits or semiconductor circuit elements, e.g. credit or identity cards also with resonating or responding marks without active components
    • G06K19/07Record carriers with conductive marks, printed circuits or semiconductor circuit elements, e.g. credit or identity cards also with resonating or responding marks without active components with integrated circuit chips
    • G06K19/073Special arrangements for circuits, e.g. for protecting identification code in memory
    • G06K19/07309Means for preventing undesired reading or writing from or onto record carriers
    • G06K19/07345Means for preventing undesired reading or writing from or onto record carriers by activating or deactivating at least a part of the circuit on the record carrier, e.g. ON/OFF switches
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01HELECTRIC SWITCHES; RELAYS; SELECTORS; EMERGENCY PROTECTIVE DEVICES
    • H01H2215/00Tactile feedback
    • H01H2215/004Collapsible dome or bubble

Abstract

An apparatus and method for providing security for passive RFID tags, includes a tactile-membrane switch 101 coupled to the RFID's electrical circuitry. The switch allows the user to enable or switch-on the device only when required. The switch provides feedback that the enablement operation has been completed. The feedback may include an audible sound. The switch may be embossed to aid location. The switch could also have a raised profile or be recessed into an enclosing body.

Description

t V.' INTELLECTUAL ..* PROPERTY OFFICE Application No. GB 1020195.2 RTM Date:16 March 2011 The following terms are registered trademarks and should be read as such wherever they occur in this document: Vostro, Bluetooth, Windows Intellectual Properly Office is an operating name of the Patent Office www.ipo.gov.uk

TITLE

Passive REID tags.

EIELD OE INVENTION: This invention relates to a passive radio-frequency identification (REID) tag.

BACKGROUND:

[0001] A passive REID tag comprises of an antenna connected to an integrated circuit ( "chip").

Using the antenna in an REID tag a separate REID reader or writer can communicate with the integrated circuit on the passive REID tag via radio waves.

[0002] An REID tag ("REID label" ) can also be semi-passive or active. Pure passive REID tags require energy from the REiD reader or writer to power or enable the REiD tag's chip and transmit information back. However a semi-passive tag is considered to include an alternative source of power, other than the REID reader or writer, such as an embedded battery, to power or enable the tag chip, but still relies on the signal from an REID reader or writer to stimulate a response. Active REID tags are deemed to use an alternative source of power, such as an embedded battery, to power the REID tag's chip ( "integrated circuit" ) and send a signal to the REID reader or writer.

[0003] Data held on REID tags can either be read-only, write-once or read-write many.

[0004] REID tags generally form part of a system comprising other components, such as REID readers, and possibly REID writers as well, connected to electronic systems to process the data held on the REID tags. These electronic systems may comprise of both software and hardware, or just hardware. The use of software however provides for a more flexible system.

[0005] Passive REID tags are already combined with personal items such as credit cards, pre-payment cards and passports, as well as for tracking commodities.

[0006] The security of information held on passive REID tags may be of particular importance, especially when related to personal financial data, security access or personal details such as that included on an e-passport.

PROBLEM SOLVED BY THIS INVENTION: [0007] The problem is that unauthorised REID readers or writers, that are not part of an intended system, can attempt to communicate with passive REID tags at any time when within range, via radio waves, without the holder or user being aware, in an attempt to acquire information from the REID tag, or track the REID tag and any items associated with it, for example, a user of a passport with an embedded REID tag.

PRIOR ART:

[0008] Various different mechanisms have been employed in attempt to solve this.

[0009] Any discussions of the prior art throughout the specification should in no way be considered as an admission that such prior art is widely known or forms part of common general knowledge in

the field.

[0010] One existing invention has incorporated a piezo electric element, to enable the RFID tag at certain times, as described in a U.S. patent entitled "Integrated circuit and method to secure rfid tag", publication number US2010039265 filed August 14 2008 published February 18 2010.

[0011] Disadvantageously, the pressure on a piezo-based switch would need to be cycled, applied and un-applied, in order to provide extended operation.

[0012] Disadvantageously, the piezo element based switch described in U.S. patent US2010039265 also requires other discrete electrical components as well as the mechanical components of the piezo element itself in order to implement a switch that controls the flow of electricity generated by another source.

[0013] Disadvantageously, a piezo based switch, as described in U.S. patent US2010039265, doesn't provide any well defined or definite tactile feedback that the RFID tag has been activated.

[0014] Some other inventions have included the use of material to inhibit the receiving of radio waves by the RFID tag, using the faraday cage principal, such as US patent publication number 20100263179 entitled "Lining for blocking wi-fi, ultra-sound, laser, vhf, uhf, blue tooth, and rfid tag signal" filed May 8 2006 published October 21 2010 or US patent publication number 7830672 entitled "Electromagnetic shielding carrying case for contactless smartcards and personal articles" filed June 27 2008 published November 9 2010.

[0015] Some passports with embedded RFID tags have been designed to incorporate a thin metal lining to inhibit access to radio waves, while closed.

[0016] Disadvantageously, radio wave shielding may add substantially extra bulk, as the extent of the shielding will partly depend on the thickness of the shield.

[0017] Disadvantageously, radio wave shielding not permanently attached to their RFID tag, may be lost.

[0018] Disadvantageously, the act of removing and replacing an RFID tag from its radio wave shielding, may become cumbersome for the user or holder.

[0019] Disadvantageously, RFID tags removed from their radio shielding in order to operate, but which are not automatically returned through inaction by the user or holder into their radio wave shielding, have a chance the user or holder will forget or not bother to return the RFID tag into the shielding, which would leave the RFID tag potentially open to access via radio waves from an unauthorised source.

[0020] Other existing methods and associated apparatus have attempted to increase the security of the embedded information in the RFID tag by encrypting the stored information or by using an encrypted communication protocol.

[0021] For example, a mechanism called Basic Access Control (BAC), uses Machine Readable Zones (MRZ) on a passport, which are read optically, to provide a symmetric encryption key for communication) requiring physical access to the passport.

[0022] However with the BAC mechanism the key can be physically read, by anyone with visual access. Once the key has been read, there is no mechanism to revoke permission to access the information.

[0023] In addition to the BAC mechanism is the Extended Access Control (EAC) mechanism which uses public-key cryptography for secure communication and allows the RFID chip to verify that the RF1D reader (inspection system) is authorized to read its data.

[0024] Disadvantageously, encryption schemes, in general, have the possibility of being cracked by numerous methods, for example by, but not limited to, brute force attacks, side channel attacks and timing attacks.

[0025] Disadvantageously, storing encrypted data requires the additional overhead of key management in order to decrypt it.

[0026] Disadvantageously, the location of encrypted data in itself may still have the possibility of being tracked.

[0027] Disadvantageously, adding more transistors to implement sophisticated encryption algorithms increases the complexity, cost and power requirements of the integrated circuit in the RFIG tag.

[0028] US patent publication number 2010123581 entitled "RFID security in an RFID-Enabled Medium" filed November 14 2008 published May 20 2010 describes inclusion of a touch-sensitive switch to control enablement of an RFID tag. There are two main types of touch switch A capacitance touch switch and a resistance touch switch. A capacitance touch switch needs only one electrode to function and uses the human body's capacitance in order to trigger a result. A capacitance touch switch can be placed behind a non-conductive layer. A resistance touch sensitive switch requires the human user to complete the electrical circuit between two exposed contacts using a conductive part of their body.

[0029] Disadvantageously, a resistance touch-sensitive switch with exposed contacts would be susceptible to getting dirty or eroded over time due to the external environment, or inadvertently triggered by a conductive surface other than provided by the human user.

[0030] Disadvantageously, a resistance touch switch or capacitance touch switch provides no tactile feedback that it has been closed.

[0031] U.S. patent publication number US2009230197 entitled "Method and apparatus for a contactless smartcard incorporating mechanical switch" filed on Mar 14 2008 published September 17 2009 and Canadian patent publication number CA2592188 entitled "Contactless card with membrane switch made of elasto-resistive material" filed June 15 2007 published December 16 2007 describe the addition of a mechanical pressure switch into the circuitry of an REID card.

[0032] Disadvantageously, the invention described in US patent US2009230197 does not provide any feedback, by touch, sound or sight, to the user that the switch has been closed.

[0033] Disadvantageously, the invention described in U.S. patent US2009230197 provides no apparatus, or methods for adjustment, to specifically protect, against accidental activation through external pressure.

[0034] Disadvantageously, the invention described in U.S. patent US2009230197 provides or describes no apparatus or method to provide feedback to the user that they have activated their REID tag, so if there was a problem, for example caused by an excessive distance between an REID reader and the REID tag, then the user may not be sure whether they had pressed the switch hard-enough, whether they were out of range, whether they were pressing in the best place on the card or whether the REID reader was not working.

[0035] Disadvantageously, the invention described in Canadian patent CA2592188 provides no apparatus, or methods for adjustment, to specifically protect, against accidental activation through external pressure.

[0036] Disadvantageously, the invention described in Canadian patent CA 2592188 does not provide any apparatus or method for providing feedback, by touch, sound or sight, to the user or holder that the switch has been closed.

[0037] Disadvantageously, the invention described in Canadian patent CA 2592188 does not provide any method of locating the switch through touch alone.

STATEMENT OETHE INVENTION:

[0038] According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided an apparatus as described in claim 1.

[0039] According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a method as described in claim 17.

ADVANTAGES OETHE INVENTION: [0040] The present invention overcomes the problems associated with the prior art, as described below.

[0041] Advantageously, by inclusion of a tactile membrane switch, in the REID tag's electrical circuitry, as provided in an embodiment of the present invention, the user or holder of an unauthorised RFID reader or writer would now need physical access to the REID tag, in order to close an open switch and allow communication with the REID tag, whereas a passive REID tag that implements only an encryption based scheme for protection would be available for communication through its antenna all the time.

[0042] Advantageously, according to an embodiment of the present invention, the inclusion of a tactile membrane switch is of particular benefit as it is a biased switch which is open by default when not activated. The user or holder will therefore not be required to remember to deactivate it, as the act of removing activation pressure from the tactile membrane switch will allow automatic opening of the switch, and disablement of the REID tag, whereas use of radio wave shielding alone requires the user or holder to manually place back the REID tag back into the shield.

[0043] Advantageously, inclusion of a tactile membrane switch, as provided in an embodiment of the present invention, does not require the additional cost and power requirements associated with additional integrated circuitry in an REID tag's integrated circuitry as an encryption-based protection scheme has.

[0044] Advantageously, inclusion of a tactile membrane switch, as provided in an embodiment of the present invention, does not require the additional cost, weight or bulk of a pocket of material to inhibit the transmission of radio waves, around the REID tag's antenna, as would a solution based on the faraday cage principle.

[0045] Disadvantageously, a non-tactile membrane switch, however, can generally be made thinner than a tactile membrane switch, as it does not contain a domed actuator, and so may be preferred on that basis, by inventors, for incorporation into thin packaging such as credit, debit cards or pre-payment cards.

[0046] Advantageously, according to an embodiment of the present invention, the inclusion of a tactile membrane switch, allows the poles of the switch to remain closed to the environment and away from any contaminants that would erode the poles of the switch, as opposed to a resistance touch switch with exposed contacts.

[0047] Advantageously, according to an embodiment of the present invention, the inclusion of a tactile membrane switch means the switch cannot accidently be triggered by a conductive medium solid, liquid or gas) or its ability to operate reduced by being wholly or partly covered by non-conductive residue in the environment, as opposed to a resistance touch switch with exposed contacts.

[0048] Advantageously, according to an embodiment of the present invention, the inclusion of a tactile membrane switch, provides some protection against an electrostatic discharge ( ED) event, for example from the build up of static electricity on the user or holder of the REID tag, due to the dielectric strength of the layer between the user or holder and the switch contacts of a membrane switch, as opposed to a resistance touch switch with exposed contacts that does not have a dielectric barrier.

[0049] Advantageously, according to an embodiment of the present invention, the inclusion of a tactile membrane switch, may allow the switch to be pressed with a finger while wearing non-conductive gloves, such as leather gloves, or while fully enclosed in a non-conductive flexible pouch, whereas with a resistance touch switch you would be substantially inhibited. The ability of a capacitance-based touch switch to work would be dependent on the thickness and material of the gloves or pouch.

[0050] Advantageously, according to an embodiment of the present invention, the inclusion of a tactile membrane switch, means the switch can be held closed in order to maintain activation, whereas a piezo element based switch, as per US patent 2010039265, would require continual pressure cycles of the piezo element in order to maintain activation.

[0051] Advantageously, according to an embodiment of the present invention, a tactile membrane switch that relies on a flexible substrate, made with a polyester or metal dome actuator, can be actuated over 1,000,000 times in a tactile membrane switch (See LGlnternational's description of Tactile Membrane Switch Actuators' on their website).

[0052] The apparatus described in CA 2592188 relies on the return strength of a compressible material, such as quantum tunnelling composite ( QTC), between two electrodes in order to separate the poles of the switch, after the pressure to activate the switch is released.

[0053] Advantageously, according to an embodiment of the present invention, the inclusion of a tactile membrane switch that has an air gap between the poles of the switch, coupling the REID tags antenna to its integrated circuitry, would help provide additional protection, when not activated, by providing additional resistance to any high voltage, induced in the antenna by strong radio waves, for example when generated by a malicious or accidental source, that would damage or destroy the REID tag's electronics, as compared to an REID tag without incorporating an air gap in its electrical circuitry, such as patent CA 2592188 that suggests the use of quantum tunnelling composite ( QTC) to separate the poles of a pressure switch. A problem reported with QTC ( see Peratech's discussion on QTC Science' under the section Influence of voltage on QTC' on their website www.peratech.com) is that at a high enough voltage QTC will switch into a conductive state. Eor general switching applications, using QTC, the voltage is generally kept below 40 volts. The dielectric breakdown strength of dry air, however, at Standard Temperature and Pressure (STP) between spherical electrodes is around 33 kilo volts per centimetre ( See Sparks in the air' section of Wiki page for High Voltage' : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_volgate). The actual breakdown voltage will also depend on the electrode shape and size.

[0054] Advantageously, according to an embodiment of the present invention, an insulator between conductive layers of a tactile membrane switch, comprising a dielectric ink, can have a dielectric strength of 1000V DC per 0.0254 millimeters (See Parlex's presentation notes, under section Eabrication Technology: Dielectric inks' ) as protection against high voltages.

[0055] Advantageously, according to an embodiment of the present invention, the inclusion of a tactile membrane switch, provides a tactile response that allows the user to receive feedback and thereby assurance through touch that the operation to activate the REID tag has completed. A crisp snap of a tactile membrane switch would provide reassurance that they had activated their REID tag, as opposed to guessing whether they had applied enough pressure to a switch without tactile feedback.

[0056] The REID tag in US patent 2009230197 or Canadian patent CA2592188 do not provide any positive feedback from the REID tag itself that the device has been enabled.

[0057] Advantageously, according to an embodiment of the present invention, the inclusion of a tactile membrane switch, does not require the user or holder to be able to visually see the REID tag in order to receive feedback that it has been enabled. This means the user or holder can both receive feedback and visually concentrate on something else in their surroundings at the same time, for example if the holder or user was on the move at the same time. It also means the user or holder could still receive feedback while the REID tag was out of sight to the user or holder, such as in a pocket, or in a dark or poorly light environment, or if the user or holder was blind or a partially blind person.

[0058] Advantageously, being able to activate the switch and receive feedback, out of sight of other users, such as in a pocket, as provided in an embodiment of the present invention, may be useful for other reasons apart from security, such as privacy. Eor example you might have a system that uses the selective activation of an REID tag to place a vote on behalf of the user or holder, by allowing an REID reader connected to an electronic system to read an REID tag's unique identification number, that is uniquely associated with the user or holder, and by being able to read the user or holder's unique identification number treat that as a vote placed by the user or holder. In such a voting based system it may be required to allow the voting act to be performed in secret or with a level of privacy, although other onlookers or voters may be in the vicinity. Allowing the user or holder to receive feedback from activation of the REID tag, while out of sight, in for example a pocket, and therefore out of sight to the user or holder as well, would provide a certain degree of privacy in the voting act.

[0059] Advantageously, according to an embodiment of the present invention, the inclusion of a tactile membrane switch, would provide tactile feedback that would be substantially harder for a person operating an unauthorised REID reader or writer to visually see when the switch had been activated, and therefore when the REID tag had been enabled, as the feedback response is by touch.

The person operating an unauthorised REID reader or writer may want to notice when the REID tag is enabled in order to operate their unauthorised REID reader or writer for as little time as possible in order to avoid detection.

[0060] u.s. patent 2009230197 doesn't provide any crisp or snappy tactile feedback to assure the user or holder that the switch has been closed. In U.S. patent 2009230197 the user or holder would need to increase the pressure in order to close the switch, but may not know when enough pressure has been applied in order to close the switch, by touch alone, especially if also concealed in a flexible pouch with its own resistance. The user may then worry whether they had pressed the switch hard enough and lead the user or holder to over exaggerate the activation pressure, or to press the switch several times, which may not be appropriate for the chosen application.

[0061j According to an embodiment of the present invention, by also optionally embossing the region around or on the surface of the tactile membrane switch or recessing the membrane switch into the packaging would allow the user or holder to locate where the switch is by touch, without looking at it first, so the user or holder could visually concentrate on their surroundings instead, for example if the user or holder was on the move. This would also be of benefit if it was dark, or if the user or holder was a blind person or partially blind person, or if the REID tag was out of sight of the user or holder, such as in a pocket or pouch.

[0062] u.s. patent 2009230197 does not provide any tactile means to locate the switch or the best part of the switch to press, by touch.

[0063] Advantageously, according to an embodiment of the present invention, by being able to both locate the tactile membrane switch and receive tactile feedback during activation of the tactile membrane switch, out of sight, such as in a pocket or flexible pouch, would inhibit a person, operating an unauthorised REID reader or writer, to see clues about what type or make of REID tag was being used, for example if the REID tag was part of a branded credit card, which in turn might have possibly then provided subsequent clues, to the person operating the unauthorised REID reader or writer, as to how best to interrogate the REID tag remotely, via radio waves, in order to gain access to the REID tag's information. Generally, the less information provided to an unauthorised interrogator the less chance they have of successfully stealing information.

[0064] Advantageously, according to an embodiment of the present invention, the inclusion of a tactile membrane switch, may optionally provide aural feedback, for example, by appropriate choice of a metal actuator in the switch, to provide assurance to the user that the switch has been closed, by a different means of feedback apart from touch.

[0065] Advantageously, according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention, by optionally placing a parallel set of low powered light emitting diodes, to allow current to flow in two directions, in serial with the tactile membrane switch you could also potentially provide visual feedback that the REID circuit is active.

[0066j Advantageously, according to an embodiment of the present invention, by optionally surrounding the switch with a raised profile, recessing the switch into the packaging of the REID tag or increasing the activation pressure, you can inhibit accidental activation of the tactile membrane switch.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

[0067] A preferred embodiment of the invention will now be described solely by way of example and with reference to the accompanying drawings in which: [0068] Figure 1 shows the electrical circuit of an RFID tag incorporating a tactile membrane switch 101 affecting the flow of electricity between the RFID's antenna 100 and the RFID's integrated circuit 102, in accordance with a preferred embodiment.

[0069] Figure 2 shows a graph providing an example comparison of the difference types of force profile, that may be experienced by the user, over distance travelled, in applying activation pressure to a tactile membrane switch and non-tactile membrane switch.

[0070] Figure 3 shows the electrical circuit of an RFID tag with the tactile membrane switch 101 embedded in the RFID's antenna 100 to inhibit electrical current to the RFID's integrated circuit 102, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0071] Figure 4 shows the electrical circuit of an RFID tag with the tactile membrane switch 101 integrated into part of the RFID's integrated circuit 102 to inhibit electrical flow between the RFID's antenna 100 and RFID's integrated circuit 102, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0072] Figure 5 shows a cross-sectional side view of the parts you may find comprising a tactile membrane switch, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0073] Figure 6 shows a cross-sectional side view of a tactile membrane switch surrounded by a raised profile, in accordance with a preferred embodiment.

[0074] Figure 7 shows a cross-sectional side view of a tactile membrane switch with a sunken profile, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0075] Figure 8 shows a plan view of the layout of an RFID's antenna 100, RFID's integrated circuit 102 and tactile membrane switch 101, in a card shaped package, in accordance with a preferred embodiment.

[0076] Figure 9 shows a block diagram of an example system incorporating an RFID tag, as provided by an embodiment of the present invention.

[0077] Figure 10 displays the steps of an example method for enhancing the functionality of an RFID tag by incorporating a tactile membrane switch into its electrical circuitry.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0078] The overall purpose of the present invention is to give the user the ability to restrict the time when an unauthorised RFID reader or an unauthorised RFID writer can communicate with the RFID tag.

[0079] Figure 1 provides a preferred embodiment for the present invention for the RFID tag's electrical circuit, comprising an antenna 100, tactile membrane switch 101 and integrated circuit 102 that are arranged such that applying pressure to the tactile membrane switch 101, closes the switch, and in doing so the switch 101 provides feedback via touch to a user applying the activation pressure that the switch 101 has been closed, and in closing the switch this also allows electrical current to pass between the antenna 100 and RFID tag's integrated circuit 102, thereby allowing the RHO tag to communicate with an RFID reader or RFID writer via its antenna 100, and then when releasing pressure on the tactile membrane switch 101, the switch opens, thereby inhibiting the ability of the RFID tag to communicate with an RFID reader or RFID writer.

[0080] Figure 2 shows an example of the type of difference, in change in resistance 200 over distance travelled 202, that may be experienced by a user applying pressure to a switch, in order to close a switch, between a tactile membrane switch 203 and for a non-tactile membrane switch 201.

[0081] Other possible examples of incorporating the tactile membrane switch 101 into the electrical circuitry of an RFID tag are given in figure 3 and figure 4.

[0082] In the example in figure 3 the tactile membrane switch 101 is inserted into the antenna 100, thereby dividing it in two, whereby pressing the switch, closes the switch and allows electrical current to flow between the antenna 100 and integrated circuit 102, and when the pressure is released, the switch is opened and the electrical current is inhibited from flowing between the antenna 100 and integrated circuit 102.

[0083] In the example in figure 4 the tactile membrane switch 101 has been coupled directly into part of the RFID tag's integrated circuit 102, such that closing the tactile membrane switch 101 allows the RFID tag's integrated circuit to respond to a signal, that has been induced in the antenna by radio waves from the external RFID reader or writer, and whereby opening the tactile membrane switch 101 inhibits the RFID tag from responding.

[0084] Figure 5 shows an example of the parts you may find comprising a tactile membrane switch 101: a graphic layer 401 that holds the surface decoration of the switch, thereby enabling control of its look and feel, for example by being embossed as per this example, in order to help the user or holder locate it by touch, whereby the embossed area over the tactile actuator 400 can flex when the activation pressure 408 is applied two poles of the tactile membrane switch 101, that are represented by 406 and 407, which may, for example, be printed with conductive ink, are attached to the static layer 404; a separation layer 403, which, for example, may be made of a non-compressible, non-conductive, thick die-cut material, which separates the graphic layer 401 from the static layer 404, but with holes to hold the tactile actuator 400 in place and to allow the tactile actuator 400 to short circuit the conductive poles 406 and 407 on the static layer 404, when the activation pressure 408 is applied to the tactile actuator 400 and the embossed graphic layer 401, and that will allow the electrical circuit to open when the activation pressure 408 on the graphic layer 401 and tactile actuator 400 has been removed; a tactile actuator 400, which, for example, may be made of metal, such as stainless steel, that is able to flex when the activation pressure 408 is applied and provide tactile feedback to the user, when the user is applying the activation pressure 408, via a change in resistance to being pressed; and a static layer 404, that can support itself, but may optionally be supported by an additional rigid layer, that is not shown.

[0085] The non-flexing parts of each neighbouring layer 401, 403 and 404 may, for example, be bonded together with adhesive.

[0086] Other options to provide tactile feedback may be achieved by adding a membrane layer between the graphic layer 401 and separation layer 403, removing the tactile actuator 400, and embossing the membrane layer into a polydome, with a conductive ink printed on the underside, that would short the conductive poles 406 and 407 on the static layer 404. A polydome, for example, can be made of polyester.

[0087] Accidental activation may be reduced by surrounding the tactile membrane switch with a raised profile, as per the example shown in figure 6, or a sunken profile, as per the example shown in figure 7, or by increasing the activation pressure. Activation pressure can, for example, be affected by using different sizes of metal domes or polydomes.

[0088] It is also possible to choose an actuator 400 in the construction of a tactile membrane switch 101 that can also provide aural feedback as well, when the switch is activated.

[0089] Figure 6 shows a cross-sectional side view of the preferred embodiment for the present invention for the structure of the tactile membrane switch comprising: a layer 401 for providing an interface between the external environment and internal workings of the switch, that is also providing a surface for switch decoration, and which has been embossed in order to help the user to locate the switch by touch, and surrounded by a raised profile in order to prevent accidental activation, and flexible in parts, such that applying activation pressure allows layer 401 to make contact with the actuator 400; a rigid layer 404 for holding the conductive poles of the switch, 406 and 407; a layer 403 for separating and holding layers 401 and 404, and for positioning actuator 400 over the poles of the switch, 406 and 407, and for providing a space for the actuator 400 to flex in, in order to short circuit the poles of the switch, 406 and 407, when pressed, and provide an open circuit when the activation pressure has been released; and poles of the switch, 406 and 407, that allow the switch to be coupled with the RFID's electrical circuit.

[0090] Figure 8 shows an example layout of an RFID's antenna 100, RFID's integrated circuit 102 and tactile membrane switch 101 inserted into packaging the shape of a card 700, based on the electrical circuit in figure 1, in accordance with a preferred embodiment.

[0091] Information held on an RFID tag according to an embodiment of the present invention, may relate to financial information, such as the user's bank account number, passport information, such as the user's date of birth, security access information) such as data allowing the user access to their place of employment, or personal information, such as the user's state of health, or a reference to any of the aforementioned types of information.

[0092] Information held on an RFID tag according to an embodiment of the present invention, may form part of a system with additional components that can communicate with the RFID tag through a wireless radio link and process the data held on the RFID tag.

[0093] Figure 9 shows a schematic view of an example system comprising: an RFID tag 900, with an embedded tactile membrane switch, as per an embodiment of the present invention, that can communicate via radio waves with an RFID transceiver 901; wherein the RFID transceiver 901 can be an RFID reader or RFID writer or a mixture of both an RFID reader and RFID writer, connected to an electronic system 902, for example by a USB connection; wherein the electronic system 902 can process data held on the RFID tag 900, which may be implemented with a mixture of software and hardware, such as a computer server with hard disk and microprocessor board, or just hardware. Input devices, such as a keyboard or mouse, and output devices, such as a computer monitor, may be attached to the electronic system 902 in order to allow human interaction with the electronic system 902.

[0094] For example, a system used to control access to a building, may incorporate RFID readers at every access point to the building, that will allow reading of the unique information on an RFID tag, once enabled by closing the tactile membrane switch in the RFID tag's circuitry, where each RFID tag is linked to a particular user, and in who's possession the RFID tag is in, in order for a computer system, connected to the RFID readers, to authenticate them, for example by examining a list of accepted RFID tags in a maintained database, and then check if a particular RFID tag and its associated user is authorised to gain access, for example by querying another database, before deciding whether to unlock a security door, and thereby allow the user holding the RFID tag access to the building.

[0095] Advantageously, attaching a tactile membrane switch to an RFID tag, as per an embodiment of the present invention, to control enablement of an RFID tag, may allow the user or holder to selectively decide when the RFID tag is able to communicate with the RFID reader or writer, as opposed to relying purely on whether the RFID tag is in range of an RFID reader or writer, for other reasons other than security, such as the ability for the user or holder of the RFID tag to be able to selectively identify themselves out of a group of other RFID tags also in range of the RF1D reader or writer, which lends itself to other applications, such as a voting system based on using hand-held RFID tags, where the user can enable their RFID tag by closing a switch, in order to trigger a vote, while already being in range of an RFID reader, rather than relying on moving the RFID tag in and out of range of an REID reader, to trigger a vote.

[0096] Although the apparatus of the present invention has been described in connection with the preferred embodiment, it should be understood that various modifications, additions and alterations may be made to the invention by one skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.

[0097] Eigure 10 provides an example of the method for enhancing the functionality of an REID tag so that a user can control the flow of electricity between the antenna 100 and the integrated circuitry 102 of an REID tag by (step 1000) separating one of the electrical connections between the antenna 100 and integrated circuit 102 of the REID tag, thereby producing two open-ended electrical connections; and then (step 1001) electrically attaching one pole of a two-poled tactile membrane switch 101 onto one of the open-ended electrical connections, produced in the previous step, and attaching the other pole of the switch onto the other open-ended electrical connection, produced in the previous step, in order to allow electricity to flow between the antenna 100 and integrated circuitry 102 when the switch is closed and inhibit the flow of electricity when the switch is open.

[0098] An example of one way to electrically attach an open electrical connection to the pole of a tactile membrane switch is by stripping any insulation away from the ends of the open electrical connection and soldering the two parts together with a soldering iron and solder.

[0099] Eigure 10 provides the preferred method for incorporating a tactile membrane switch into an REID tag.

[0100] Another example of a method, for implementing an example of the apparatus for the present invention, for incorporating a tactile membrane switch into the electrical circuitry of an REID tag is by: a) attaching a Phidget's REID reader part number 1023 version 206 to a Dell Vostro 1720 laptop running Microsoft Windows version 7 via a USB ( Universal Serial Bus) port; b) installing the Phidget Control Panel software, Phidget2l version 2.1.6, and associated drivers onto the computer, and running the Phidget Control Panel software, that will allow the tag data, to be read by the Phidget REID reader, and displayed on the computer screen; c) opening up the packaging to a low frequency (125khz to 134.2khz) REID disc tag, type EM4102, from CoreREID Ltd's low frequency Tags Multipack, to expose the electrical circuitry; and d) breaking the electrical connection between the REID's integrated circuit and its existing antenna coil; e) soldering one end of a custom-made-for-Solarbotics enamelled copper coil, product code CMH, from Active Robots to one of the electrodes on the REID tag's integrated circuit, that will take the place of the old antenna for the REID tag; f) soldering a separate piece of wire to the other electrode on the REID tag's integrated circuit; g) connecting the loose end of the coil to connection 1 of an Apem membrane keyboard manufacturer's part number AC3559 ILL, Radio Spares part number 693-2388; and h) connecting the other end of the separate piece of wire to connection 5 of the Apem membrane keyboard, whereby placing the coil over the REID reader and pressing the tactile membrane key furthest from the membrane keyboards connection strip will enable the REID's integrated circuit to be electrically coupled with the coil, thereby allowing the REID reader to read the information in the REID's integrated circuit and display the results on the computer screen using the Phidget's Control Panel application.

[0101] The system provided as an end result of the example method above, comprising: a Phidget's based REID reader; a Dell Vostro 1720 laptop running Windows 7 attached via a USB cable to the REID reader and running Phidget's based software to read the REID data from the REID reader and display the results on the screen; an EM4102 REID tag; and an Apem tactile membrane switch coupled to the electrical circuit of the REID tag, also provides an example of a system incorporating an REID tag, as provided in an embodiment of the present invention.

[0102] The spirit of the present invention provides a breadth of scope that includes all methods of combining the components into the apparatus described by the present invention. Any variation on the theme and methodology of accomplishing the same that are not described herein would be considered under the scope of the present invention.

Claims (17)

  1. CLAI MS1. A passive radio-frequency identification (REID) tag, comprising: an electrical circuit; and a tactile membrane switch associated with the electrical circuit and actuable, in use, to activate and deactivate said REID tag.
  2. 2. An REID tag according to claim 1, wherein the switch generates a sound when pressed.
  3. 3. An REID tag according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the switch is embossed to aid location by touch.
  4. 4. An REID tag according to claim 1, 2 or 3, wherein the switch has a raised profile in order to inhibit accidental closure.
  5. 5. An REID tag according to claim 1, 2, 3 or 4, wherein the switch is recessed into an enclosing body in order to inhibit accidental closure.
  6. 6. A system comprising: an REID tag as claimed in any preceding claims; an REID transceiver for communicating with the REID tag via radio waves; and an electronic system associated with the REID transceiver for processing data held on the REID tag.
  7. 7. An REID tag according to claim 1,2,3,4,5 or 6, wherein the REID tag holds financial information.
  8. 8. An REID tag according to claim 1,2,3,4,5 or 6, wherein the REID tag holds passport information.
  9. 9. An REID tag according to claim 1, 2,3,4,5 or 6, wherein the REID tag holds security access information.
  10. 10. An REID tag according to claim 1,2,3,4,5 or 6, wherein the REID tag holds personal information.
  11. 11. An REID tag according to claim 1,2,3,4,5 or 6, wherein the REID tag holds a reference to financial information.
  12. 12. An REID tag according to claim 1,2,3,4,5 or 6, wherein the REID tag holds a reference to passport information.
  13. 13. An REID tag according to claim 1,2,3,4,5 or 6, wherein the REID tag holds a reference to security access information.
  14. 14. An REID tag according to claim 1,2,3,4,5 or 6, wherein the REID tag holds a reference to personal information.
  15. 15. A system according to claim 6, wherein the REID tag is part of a system to enable the user to be selectively identified through activation of their REID tag.
  16. 16. A system according to claim 15, wherein the REID tag is part of a system to enable the user to submit a vote through activation of their REID tag.
  17. 17. A method for enhancing the functionality of a passive radio-frequency identification ( REID) tag, comprising: incorporating a tactile membrane switch into the radio-frequency identification device's electrical circuitry to allow the user to control the flow of electricity.
GB1020195.2A 2010-11-29 2010-11-29 A tactile-membrane switch for a radio-frequency identification tag (RFID) Withdrawn GB2485846A (en)

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Citations (5)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
CA1155889A (en) * 1981-02-18 1983-10-25 Link Forte Keyboard switch with recessed actuating means
JP2003223829A (en) * 2001-11-21 2003-08-08 Yazaki Corp Dome switch
US20060187040A1 (en) * 2005-02-04 2006-08-24 Philip Morris Usa Inc. Controllable RFID card
US20060289657A1 (en) * 2005-06-25 2006-12-28 Outland Research, Llc Methods and apparatus for user interaction with RFID cards
US20070152828A1 (en) * 2005-08-31 2007-07-05 Mohalik Swarup K Methods and apparatus for tag activation

Patent Citations (5)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
CA1155889A (en) * 1981-02-18 1983-10-25 Link Forte Keyboard switch with recessed actuating means
JP2003223829A (en) * 2001-11-21 2003-08-08 Yazaki Corp Dome switch
US20060187040A1 (en) * 2005-02-04 2006-08-24 Philip Morris Usa Inc. Controllable RFID card
US20060289657A1 (en) * 2005-06-25 2006-12-28 Outland Research, Llc Methods and apparatus for user interaction with RFID cards
US20070152828A1 (en) * 2005-08-31 2007-07-05 Mohalik Swarup K Methods and apparatus for tag activation

Non-Patent Citations (1)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Title
Shenzen Hochuen Technologies, Membrane Switches, RFID Label Tag *

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