Information Systems Frontiers

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 281–300 | Cite as

Taxonomy, technology and applications of smart objects

  • Tomás Sánchez LópezEmail author
  • Damith Chinthana Ranasinghe
  • Bela Patkai
  • Duncan McFarlane


Deployment of embedded technologies is increasingly being examined in industrial supply chains as a means for improving efficiency through greater control over purchase orders, inventory and product related information. Central to this development has been the advent of technologies such as bar codes, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) systems, and wireless sensors which when attached to a product, form part of the product’s embedded systems infrastructure. The increasing integration of these technologies dramatically contributes to the evolving notion of a “smart product”, a product which is capable of incorporating itself into both physical and information environments. The future of this revolution in objects equipped with smart embedded technologies is one in which objects can not only identify themselves, but can also sense and store their condition, communicate with other objects and distributed infrastructures, and take decisions related to managing their life cycle. The object can essentially “plug” itself into a compatible systems infrastructure owned by different partners in a supply chain. However, as in any development process that will involve more than one end user, the establishment of a common foundation and understanding is essential for interoperability, efficient communication among involved parties and for developing novel applications. In this paper, we contribute to creating that common ground by providing a characterization to aid the specification and construction of “smart objects” and their underlying technologies. Furthermore, our work provides an extensive set of examples and potential applications of different categories of smart objects.


Smart object Intelligent product RFID Sensors Classification 


  1. Armenio, F., et al. (2007). The EPC global architecture framework, resource document. EPCglobal, Accessed 9 March 2009.
  2. Batalin, M. A., & Sukhatme, G. S. (2002). Sensor coverage using mobile robots and stationary nodes. In Proceedings of scalability and traffic control in IP networks 2002, 31 July 2002 (Vol. 4868, pp. 269–276). Boston, USA.Google Scholar
  3. Caruso, M. J., & Withanawasam, L. S. (1999). Vehicle detection and compass applications using AMR magnetic sensors. Resource document, Honeywell technical documentation. Accessed 9 March 2009.
  4. Castillo-Effer, M., Quintela, D. H., Moreno, W., Jordan, R., & Westhoff, W. (2004). Wireless sensor networks for flash-flood alerting. In Proceedings of the fifth IEEE international caracas conference on devices, circuits and systems, 3–5 November 2004 (pp. 142–146). Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.Google Scholar
  5. Cayirci, E., Tezcan, H., Dogan, Y., & Coskun, V. (2004). Wireless sensor networks for underwater surveillance systems. Elsevier Journal on Ad-hoc Networks, 4(4), 431–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Connor, C. O. (2005). Growers sow the seeds of success. Resource document. RFID journal online. Accessed 30 October 2008.
  7. Duarte, M., & Hu, Y.-H. (2004). Vehicle classification in distributed sensor networks. Journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing, 64(7), 826–838.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Duckworth, G. L., Gilbert, D. C., & Barger, J. E. (1997). Acoustic counter-sniper system. In: Proceedings of SPIE international symposium on enabling technologies for law enforcement and security, 19 November (p. 262). Boston, USA.Google Scholar
  9. Dutta, P., Grimmer, M., Arora, A., Bibyk, S., & Culler, D. (2005). Design of a wireless sensor network platform for detecting rare, random, and ephemeral events. In: Proceedings of the 4th international symposium on information processing in sensor networks, 25–27 April (Article no. 70). Los Angeles, USA.Google Scholar
  10. Edwards, J. (2007). Cold chain heats up RFID adoption. Resource document. RFID journal online. Accessed 30 October 2007.
  11. Emery, K. (2005). Distributed eventing architecture: RFID and sensors in a supply chain. MPhil thesis, MIT University.Google Scholar
  12. EPCglobal Inc (2005). Class 1 generation 2 UHF air interface protocol standard version 1.0.9: ‘Gen 2’. Resource document. EPCglobal. Accessed 9 March 2009.
  13. EPCglobal Inc (2005). EPC TM tag data standards. Resource document. EPCglobal. Accessed 9 March 2009.
  14. EPCglobal Inc (2007). EPCglobal tag class definitions. Resource document. EPCglobal. Accessed 9 March 2009.
  15. European Parliament (2002). Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council. Official Journal of the European Communities, L31/1L31/24.Google Scholar
  16. Gilbert, A. (2004). HP developing ‘smart rack’ to ease data center work. Resource document. CNET news. Accessed 30 October 2008.
  17. IEEE Standard for Information Technology—Telecommunications and Information Exchange Between Systems—Local and Metropolitan Area Networks (2006). 802.15.4, specific requirements Part 15.4: Wireless medium access control (MAC) and physical layer (PHY) specifications for low-rate wireless personal area networks (WPANs). Resource document. IEEE Computer Society. Accessed 9 March 2009.
  18. ISO/ICE (2006). Information technology –radio frequency identification (RFID) for item management application protocol: Encoding and processing rules for sensors and batteries. Technical document draft, ISO/ IEC WD 24753.Google Scholar
  19. ISO/IEC (2007). Information technology –radio frequency identification for item management—part6: Parameters for air interface communications at 860MHz to 960MHz. Technical document, Working draft, ISO/ IEC WD 18000-6REV1.Google Scholar
  20. Kevan, T. (2004). Theft and terror threats push sensors into supply chain. Resource document. Frontline Solutions. Accessed 30 October 2008.
  21. Kim, S., Pakzad, S., Culler, D., Demmel, J., Fenves, G., Glaser, S., et al. (2006). Wireless sensor networks for structural health monitoring. In Proceedings of the 4th international conference on embedded networked sensor systems, 31 October–3 November 2006 (pp. 4270-428). Boulder, USA.Google Scholar
  22. Konstantas, D., van Halteren, A. T., Bults, R. G. A., Wac, K. E., Jones, V. M., & Widya, I. A. (2004). Body area networks for ambulant patient monitoring over next generation public wireless networks. In Thirteenth IST mobile and wireless communications summit, 27–30 June 2004 (pp. 181–185). Lyon, France.Google Scholar
  23. Kuck, M. (2007). The chill-on project: Novel technologies for a safe and transparent food supply. Resource online. Accessed 30 October 2008.
  24. LandMarc Research Center (2007). Integrated sensor radio frequency identification (ISRFID). Accessed 15 April 2007.
  25. Lee, K. (1999). A synopsis of the IEEE P1451- standards for smart transducer communication. Resource document. National Institute of Standards and Technology. Accessed 9 March 2009.
  26. Levis, P. (2006). TinyOS 2.0 overview. Resource document. Accessed 20 October 2008.
  27. Li, G-H., Zhao, J., & Wang Z. (2006). Research on forest fire detection based on wireless sensor network. In Proceedings of the WCICA 2006, 21–23 June 2006 (275–279). Dalian China.Google Scholar
  28. Mainwaring, A., Polastre, J., Szewczyk, R., Culler, D., & Anderson, J. (2002). Wireless sensor networks for habitat monitoring. In Proceedings of the WSNA’02, 28 September 2002 (pp. 88–97). Atlanta, Georgia.Google Scholar
  29. McFarlane, D. C., Sarma, S. E., Chirn, J. L., Wong, C. Y., & Ashton, K. (2002). The intelligent product in manufacturing control. Journal of EAIA, 54–64.Google Scholar
  30. Mitsugi, J., Inaba, T., Patkai, B., Theodorou, L., Sung, J., Sanchez Lopez, T., et al. (2007). Architecture development for sensor integration in the EPCglobal network. Auto-ID Labs White Paper, White Paper Series 2007.Google Scholar
  31. Nochta, Z., Oertel, N., & Spiess, P. (2005). Relocatable services and service classification scheme. Resource document. Project CoVIs. Accessed 9 March 2009.
  32. Patkai, B., Theodorou, L., McFarlane, D., & Schmidt, K. (2007). Requirements for RFID-based sensor integration in landing gear monitoring—a case study. Technical report, AerospaceID Technologies Programme, University of Cambridge.Google Scholar
  33. Ranasinghe, D. C., & Cole, P. H. (2008). Networked RFID systems. In Networked RFID systems and lightweight cryptography: Raising barriers to product counterfeiting (pp. 45–58). Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Roberti, M. (2004a). BP leads the way on sensors. Resource document. RFID journal online. Accessed 9 March 2009.
  35. Roberti, M. (2004b). Navy revs up RFID sensors. Resource document. RFID journal online. Accessed 9 March 2009.
  36. Ruhanen, A., et al. (2008). Sensor-enabled RFID tag handbook. Resource document. BRIDGE project. Accessed 9 March 2009.
  37. Sample, A. P., Yeager, D. J., Powledge, P. S., Mamishev, A. V., & Smith, J. R. (2008). Design of an RFID-based battery-free programmable sensing platform. IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement, 57(11), 2608–2615.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sha, K., Shi, K., & Watkins, O. (2006). Using wireless sensor networks for fire rescue applications: Requirements and challenges. In Proceedings of the 6th IEEE international conference on electro/information technology, 7–10 May (pp. 239–244). East Lansing, USA.Google Scholar
  39. Srini, V. P. (2006). A vision for supporting autonomous navigation in urban environments. IEEE Computer, 39(12), 68–77.Google Scholar
  40. Stoianov, I., Nachman, L., Madden, S., & Tokmouline T. (2007). PIPENET A wireless sensor network for pipeline monitoring. In Proceedings of the information processing in sensor networks 2007, 25–27 April (pp. 264-273). Cambridge, USA.Google Scholar
  41. Theodorou, S. (2006). A classification approach for RFID-based sensor integration. A thesis for the degree of Master of Philosophy, Hughes Hall, Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge.Google Scholar
  42. Welsh, M. (2005). CodeBlue: A wireless sensor network for medical care and disaster response. Resource document. Accessed October 30 2008.
  43. Wong, C. Y., McFarlane, D., Zaharudin, A. H., & Agarwal, V. (2002). The intelligent product driven supply chain. In Proceedings of the IEEE international conference on systems, man and cybernetics, 6–9 October (Vol. 4, 6 p.).Google Scholar
  44. Yoo, S., Kim, J., Kim, T., Ahn, S., Sung, J., & Kim, D. (2007). A2S: Automated Agriculture system based on WSN. In Proceedings of the ISCE2007, 20–23 Jun (pp. 628–633). Dallas, Texas.Google Scholar
  45. ZigBee Alliance (2006). ZigBee specification. Technical document 05347r13.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tomás Sánchez López
    • 1
    Email author
  • Damith Chinthana Ranasinghe
    • 2
  • Bela Patkai
    • 1
  • Duncan McFarlane
    • 1
  1. 1.Engineering Department, Institute for ManufacturingUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.The School of Computer ScienceThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

Personalised recommendations