Saturday, November 29, 2008

RFID is everywhere

Apple's latest DRM will restrict your wardrobe

You've heard, of course, of digital rights management - used to control how you play, copy or otherwise use media files like music.

Now Apple wants to apply that concept to your sporting wardrobe. In US patent application 2008/0218310, the company details a way to stop us using unauthorised training shoes with the in-sole sensors it sells as part of the Nike + iPod kit. The shoe sensors work as pedometers, sending the data to your iPod as you run.

Apple's patent explains that "some people have taken it upon themselves to remove the sensor from the special pocket of the Nike shoe and place it in inappropriate locations - shoelaces, for example - or place it on non-Nike shoes".

They seem to consider this beyond the pale. The patent details a way of "pairing a sensor and an authorised garment", such as "running shoes, shirts or slacks". Companies like Nike could authorise their garments by burying an RFID chip inside it. That chip is required to activate the sensor. No longer will you be able to use the sensor you paid for with any shoe of your choosing.

Apple's idea sounds mean-minded to me. What do you think?

The company has previous form, though. Last year they tried to patent a system that would prevent you from recharging a music player if you ever use it with unauthorised software.

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