What are Smart Objects?


A smart object is simply any physical object that includes a unique identifier that can track information about the object. There are a number of technologies that support smart objects: radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, quick response (QR) codes, and smartcards are some of the most common. Objects that carry information with them have long been used for point-of-sale purchases, passport tracking, inventory management, identification, and similar applications. RFID tags and smartcards “know” about a certain kind of information, like how much money is available in a user’s account and how to transfer the correct amount to a retailer for a given purchase, or which book is being checked out at a library, who the patron is, and whether that patron has any currently overdue materials. QR codes can be read by many camera-enabled mobile devices and can call up a wealth of information about the object tagged with the code.

Smart objects connect the physical world with the world of information. They can be used to digitally manage physical things, to track them throughout their lifespan, and to annotate them with descriptions, opinions, instructions, warranties, tutorials, photographs, connections to other objects, and any other kind of contextual information imaginable. Thus far, smart objects are awkward to tag and difficult to scan for the everyday user, but that is beginning to change as manufacturers create user-friendly systems for tagging, scanning, and programming smart objects.

ALT-C Next Steps:

Please capture the discussion of your groups around this question in the space below:

How can we maximise the ability of Higher and Further Education institutions and their learning technology innovators to take advantage of this emerging technology and its applications?

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

  • Enter a response from you team here ....
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Work of the Advisory Board previous to Sept 5


INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - alan alan Jan 27, 2010

(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • your response here
  • another response here

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • your response here
  • another response here

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, research or information management within the next five years?

  • One can imagine QRCodes on lecture theatre and room doors, allowing easy access to timetabling or other booking information. - andy.powell andy.powell May 18, 2011
  • another response here

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project sharing form.