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RFID Light Bulb

RFID Light Bulbs

The problem with RFID was that it required just a little bit too much infrastructure to get it going. That’s why there’s not really a consumer market for the technology at the moment: we can make plenty of products embedded with RFID tags, but we need the readers to be installed somewhere.
So what if we could use existing infrastructure from within our own homes or offices to leverage the technology, and create new capabilities?

Disney have explored this question and come up with a concept: the RFID Light Bulb. By nesting an RFID reader within the form factor of a lightbulb, and using the existing cabling to connect it, they’ve been able to create a flexible, connected control tower for RFID tags. By using Smart LED bulbs, the devices can communicate via colour, brightness, and flash frequency.

Check out the video below:


About RFID

How is RFID used?

Before answering the question, ‘What is RFID’, it’s probably easier to start by illustrating the problems RFID solves, and how it’s being used in industry today:

  • Borrowing books at the library
    When sliding a book across the checkout in a library, the systems are often using RFID to communicate
  • HOYTS DVD rental kiosks
    The super-simple DVD rental process is aided by RFID tags on the DVDs
  • PayPass / PayWave
    Typically, tap-and-go bank cards use RFID
  • Races
    Timing runners in marathons and races
  • Supply chain
    Tracking where individual components or items are in their journey through the supply chain

plus, any number of other creative applications.

What is RFID?

RFID stands for Radio-Frequency Identification. It uses radio waves to communicate between a tagged object and a reader (via an antenna).

An RFID system communicates over radio waves between a 'tag' and a 'reader'
An RFID system communicates over radio waves between a ‘tag’ and a ‘reader’


NFC (Near-Field Coupling) is just a subset within RFID technology. In short, it’s a branch of High Frequency RFID that is intended to be more secure. It’s unique ability to be both a tag and a reader enables peer-to-peer communication between enabled devices.



If you’re interested in learning more about some of the creative applications of RFID and NFC technology, check out this post on Examples of RFID Creative Technology.