Live Forever with RFID Technology

For those of you who'd take your mobile phone with you to the grave, John Bottorff, General Manager of Objecs LLC, may have the next best thing.

Personal RosettaStone RFIDThe Personal RosettaStone is a small tablet mounted on a headstone that uses a microchip to access a person's life history. Anyone visiting the grave with an NFC-RFID cellphone simply taps the phone on the headstone and the data is displayed on their interface. NFC phones, although available overseas, are not expected to be available in America until late 2010, but American users can still access the information loaded on the stone by snapping a photo or manually entering a short url.

“Objecs purpose in life is the exchange of information between people and objects at the personal level.” says, Bottorff. What started out as a heady mission of connectivity, has shifted focus to (of all things) headstones. Historically, Objecs primary source of revenue has been object hyperlinking for the purposes of point-of-need learning, the act of accessing information at the time and place of need. This methodology is effective because the desire to learn is most heightened in the context of a real-world need. Imagine that you are trying to fix an air conditioner. You have disassembled the unit and come across an unfamiliar component; you simply scan the barcode or 2D barcode on the item with your mobile phone and the part's function and schematic appear on your screen— this is one application of object hyperlinking. Object hyperlinking can be accomplished through multiple media such as 2D barcode, direct dial, hardlink, image recognition and RFID, all services which Objecs provides.

The Personal Rosetta Stone itself is the result of Bottorff putting two and two together. A client in Portugal contracted Objecs to install object hyperlinks on the dilapidated, 600 year old headstones on his property as a means of identifying them via cellphone— an easy enough request since accessing information via hardlinks is more common in Europe. Around this same time John and his wife lost a family member and found themselves underwhelmed by what the memorial market was offering. After exploring multiple technologies, they came up with what is now the Personal RosettaStone solution.

The Personal RosettaStone is a tablet about the size of an iPhone engraved with six symbols chosen from a library of over 600, to represent that person's life. The tablet can be kept as an heirloom or professionally installed on the headstone itself. The owner adds up to 1,000 words and one photo to the database via a website. The information is then available by tapping any NFC enabled phone to the tablet, manually entering the URL on any web-enabled phone or using image recognition. The tablet uses the elecromagnetic field of the phone to power the microchip for about a second, the time necessary to transmit the information, making batteries unnecessary and contributing to the longevity of the the technology. Sometime After 90 days on the database, the information begins to solidify and becomes more difficult to change transforming to a permanently archived state in multiple locations that may include Canada, the US and Egypt. So if Objecs goes out of business, your life history won't be threatened. This is one major point of difference between Personal RosettaStone and traditional memorial websites whose data is commonly proprietary and would disappear with them.

Objecs also offers a Rosetta Stone product that is a 55mm disc, like a large coin, installed directly into a headstone, park bench or other statuary. This product version is not available directly to the public, but through headstone providers globally.

Breakthrough Technology

The technology behind the Personal Rosetta Stone earned Objecs one of ten finalist spots in the commercial track of the NFC Forum's Global Competition. The Near Field Communication Forum was formed to advance the use of Near Field Communication technology by developing specifications, ensuring interoperability among devices and services, and educating the market about NFC technology. NFC is a short-range high frequency wireless communication technology which enables the exchange of data between devices up to about 10 centimeter distance. It is an extension of RFID that combines the interface of a smartcard and a reader into a single device.

The Personal RosettaStone's unpredicted success has thrown the five person staff at Objecs into a frenzy, forcing them to adjust to a new business model and operations almost overnight. “We floated a small, local IT press release, and that single release generated an almost immediate global response.” Says Bottorff. Objecs has had to step out of the realm of being solely a software company and into the realm of fixed assets and tools. Since they are manufacturing the tablets themselves, they had to contract outside help. A second generation stone mason has come onboard, and allowed them to install a microchip inside a rock. “We've been fortunate to make connections with key individuals who are great at what they do with the rock. There are real challenges involved when working with granite and a microchip. Challenges that almost looked like deal breakers, but they've found a way around it.” continues Bottorff.

The Mobile Movement

The success of the product is indicative of a cultural shift occurring around the way we exchange and archive information. How long has it been since we've seen even the slightest change in the memorial market? Breaking into this sacred and seemingly unchanging industry speaks volumes about the mobile movement and the new ways in which humans are ready to receive and process information. As Bottorff puts it, “Those in the memorial industry have not had much need for mobile technology, so I get to witness a true Aha! Moment when I hand them my phone, they're playing with it, they touch it to a rock and instantly see an obituary or family tree. This is the face of progress.”

For more information on Objecs and the Personal Rosetta Stone, visit: or call 1-888-692-7009, Ext 701.{jcomments on}