Human memory is imperfect, so an RFID-enabled smartwatch that keeps track of the easily lost items in your world could be a boon. The tricky part is making sure the watch doesn't remember everything.

At his lab in Seattle, Gaetano Borriello and his University of Washington team have built a working prototype of a smartwatch that operates using radio frequency identification tags to help people keep track of their stuff. The device is destined to become an application for the memory-challenged but is being designed with privacy rights in mind.

Currently, the University of Washington team's "watch" consists of passive RFID tags which remain inert unless read by an RFID reader. The full setup requires an RFID reader, a reader antennae network and a personal server in addition to the 50-cent, 915-MHz tags.

Here's how the smartwatch works. When a tagged item passes a reader, the reader recognizes the item and sends radio energy to a personal server that checks it off the list of items present. If the item is missing and is part of a group of items programmed to be present at a given location, the watch will beep a warning that the item is not present, reminding the user to retrieve the missing item.

The current batch of equipment does not fit into any existing watch but the team, using the Microsoft Spot Watch as model housing, hopes to shrink components so that the eventual application will allow the user interface and the personal server to be combined into one device such as a cell phone or wristwatch.

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