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Exploring the shapes and forms of the readable volumes of RFID fields, and the magic of proximity-based interaction.

Touch is a research project that investigates Near Field Communication (NFC), run by Timo Arnall at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design in Norway. It is funded by the Norwegian Research Council. BERG has collaborated with the Touch project through workshops and product prototyping, and has produced a series of short films.

Near Field Communication is a technology that enables connections between mobile phones and physical things. It is based upon RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification), a method of identifying unique items using radio waves. An RFID “tag” – a small microchip containing data, connected to a flexible aerial – can be embedded or attached in items; the data in the tag can be read by an RFID reader.


A short film exploring interacting without touching. With RFID it’s proximity that matters, and actual contact isn’t necessary. Nearness plays with the problems of invisibility and the magic of being close. Read our blog post about Nearness.

Nearness has been watched well over 100,000 since its launch, and Timo Arnall has a summary of the online responses to Nearness over at the Touch blog.


Immaterials describes a series of experiments that seek to illustrate the readable area of an RFID reader not from datasheets or specifications, but by visualising the readable space of a field in space itself – “seeing RFID as it sees itself“. Read our blog post about Immaterials.

Immaterials has had over 110,000 views on Vimeo since launch, and, again, Timo has collected a selection of the responses to it over on the Touch blog.

The work on Immaterials has its roots in much earlier work that BERG conducted with Touch, which culminated in some work describing the shape of readable RFID fields in two dimensions with a field-activated pencil; on the BERG blog, Matt wrote some initial commentary, and Jack posted some longer notes on the workshop.

Update August 2011: This project is featured in the MoMA exhibition Talk to Me in NYC from 24 July until 7 November 2011.

Posts on Touch from the blog