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RFID Brings Italian History to Life

An interactive exhibition in Turin uses HF passive tags and readers to enable users to select topics that interest them, and to then access additional information at home.

By Claire Swedberg

Feb. 3, 2012—One way in which Italy has celebrated the 150th anniversary of its unification is with an exhibit employing a very modern technology, radio frequency identification, to access historical information about the nation. Launched last year in the city of Turin, the exhibit, known as "Fare gli italiani. 150 anni di storia nazionale" (Making Italians: 150 Years of National History), was a success with visitors, and will thus run for another nine months in 2012.


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Each visitor receives an RFID card that he or she can use to personalize the visit, and to create a record of the sections of the exhibit that interest that individual, by tapping an RFID card against a reader.

'The program brings Italian history to life for visitors, via photographs, video and text, and enables a user to personalize and create a record of his or her experience, based on each particular exhibit at which that person taps an RFID card against a reader dedicated to that exhibit. The technology, provided by systems integrator Softwork. using RFID readers from Feig Electronic, allows exhibition visitors not only to access data and media that interests them, but also to create a record of those topics, which can then be forwarded to an e-mail address upon request, enabling them to browse through additional information at home. What's more, RFID tags on books and photo plates enable users to learn more while at the exhibition, simply by placing an item of interest on a reader, thereby prompting the playing of video or text and pictures.


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Visitors insert tagged slides into an easel to view various videos related to Italian farming.

Last year marked the 150th anniversary of the joining of the peninsula's various independent states into a single, unified nation, and commemorative events were held throughout Italy, many located in Turin, the country's first capital city. The Making Italians exhibition, installed at Turin's Officine Grandi Riparazioni, was put together by Studio Azzurro Praduzioni, an Italian artistic studio, and was financed by the city. It tells a story of Italy's past century and a half, through a series of interactive exhibits featuring different aspects of the nation's history. That includes not only screens containing video, text and photos, but also interactive exhibits offering greater detail about specific individuals and eras that users can select. The exhibit opened in March 2011 and received a total of 420,000 visitors before closing last November. It is slated to reopen in March of this year, and will remain in operation until November 2012.

The RFID system consists of a total of 63 readers, says Paola Visentin, Softwork's marketing and communication manager. Upon arrival at the exhibit, a visitor first receives a Softwork Memo150 card made with an NXP Semiconductors I-Code SLI passive 13.56 MHz chip compliant with the ISO 15693 standard. The tag's unique ID number is stored in Studio Azzurro's software, residing on the exhibition's database. Once inside, the ticket holder can then use the card to learn more about the exhibits he or she finds of interest, by tapping the card against a reader.

 
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To view additional information at an exhibit, a visitor can place an RFID card next to the reader.

The first half of the exhibit takes the visitor along a display of chronological events from 1861 to 2011, spanning the establishment of the unified nation through both World Wars and on to the present. Each of sixty locations along the exhibit's first half contains a Feig MAX50.10-RE RFID interrogator, using a power-over-Ethernet cable connection.

 
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Studio Azzurro's Paolo Rosa
To view additional information at an exhibit, a visitor can place his or her card next to the reader, as instructed by signage at that location, and the device will capture the tag's unique ID number and forward that information to the database, where it is then stored and linked to the interrogator's ID, thus indicating that the display interested that person. At the same time, by tapping the card against the reader, the user prompts the displaying of video content.
 
The second portion of the exhibit is divided into 13 thematic islands, each representing a different sector of Italian life. RFID readers are also deployed at two of those islands, known as Farmer's World and The Mafia. At Farmer's World, the signage prompts each user to select a slide depicting a specific part of farming life in Italy, and to place that slide into a frame situated on an easel, into which a Feig Classic Pro Reader module (CPR.MO2 RFID) is installed. A Softwork passive 13.56 MHz RFID tag made with an I-Code SLI chip is attached to each slide. When the slide is placed on the easel, the reader captures the unique ID encoded to that tag, and the related video is then displayed on two large screens.

At the Mafia exhibit, four tables have been set up, each containing a reader antenna installed beneath the table's top. In addition, shelves display a selection of books, each with the name of a particular Mafia crime victim printed on the front, and a Softwork RFID tag affixed inside its cover. The book can be placed on a table, where a reader captures that book's ID number and displays related information on a wall screen.

In using the technology, says Paolo Rosa, Studio Azzurro's cofounder, "our aim was to create sensitive environments where narration, space and technology interweave, so the visitor becomes part of the narration with his presence and his activity."
 
Pub Time : 2012-02-04 09:41:28 >> News list
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