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Hardware Technology

Microchips Now In Tombstones, Toilets, & Fish Lures 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the snake-oil-the-next-generation dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Steve Johnson writes in the Mercury News that microchips are going into a staggering array of once decidedly low-tech items — from gravestone markers and running shoes to fish lures and writing pens. In the future, 'where won't we find chips?' asks analyst Jordan Selburn. 'The answer is pretty close to nowhere.' For example, one company sells a coin-size, stainless steel-encased microchip for gravestone markers that tells the dead person's story in text, photos, video or audio histories, which visitors can access by pointing their Internet-enabled cell phones at it. The company says it has sold thousands of 'Memory Medallions.' There's AquaOne Technologies, who sell a toilet containing chips that automatically shut off the water when it springs a leak or starts to overflow, but Japanese company Toto goes one better with an intelligent toilet that gathers health-related data from the user's urine. Pro-Troll puts a chip in its fish lures that 'duplicates the electrical nerve discharge of a wounded bait fish,' prompting other fish to bite it."
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Microchips Now In Tombstones, Toilets, & Fish Lures

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@@@gmail...com> on Monday December 20, 2010 @04:33PM (#34620328) Journal

    Pro-Troll puts a chip in its fish lures that 'duplicates the electrical nerve discharge of a wounded bait fish,' prompting other fish to bite it.

    Hmmm, I seem to remember hearing about this gimmick and also hearing that it varies in effectiveness with the bigger fish being a little bit more responsive (although I wish someone would bust out some statistics so I know this isn't snake oil).

    Anyway, my point is that I was unaware this used either an integrated circuit or microprocessor (which is sorta what I expect when someone says "chip"). Took a peek at the patent [google.com.br] they reference on their site (which was last updated in 2007) attached to their "Echip." What you got there is closer to a mechanical device that generates an electric field via a piezoelectric crystal inside an electrically conductive sealed rigid container.

    Am I missing something? Did they update their product? And if so, what on earth do they need an integrated circuit for on something that is just a tiny voltage generator? To my knowledge, it has no power source other than the crystal inside the container. Did I miss something here or is pickens stretching to sell the Echip as more than it is? I think the marketing name took hold of the submitter and editor here ...

    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Monday December 20, 2010 @04:48PM (#34620522) Journal

      No I think you're completely right in exactly what these things do, and to better answer your question, I believe the public view of what a "Chip" is - is anything that has circuitry so tiny its difficult or near impossible to see. Not that there has to be any actually computing take place.

    • by Oriumpor (446718)

      It's a twist on the old "Transistor radio" bit. Most of em only needed the one transistor (or two on the "modern" designs) but they had 7 or 8 for advertising purposes. The upshot for the geeky customer was they could desaughter the transistors and use em for hobby work.

      • by vlm (69642)

        It's a twist on the old "Transistor radio" bit. Most of em only needed the one transistor (or two on the "modern" designs) but they had 7 or 8 for advertising purposes. The upshot for the geeky customer was they could desaughter the transistors and use em for hobby work.

        I don't think you're going to fit a whole superheterodyne in 2 transistors. Maybe, just maybe, a TRF but they haven't manufactured those in at least 80 years, have they? I have a 1930s tube type superhet console in my house, a nice looking piece of furniture that actually works. Anyway, you're gonna need an RF stage amp, an oscillator, at least one IF stage amp, and at least two for a simple class AB audio amp. Plus some diodes for mixers and product detectors and AGC voltage control. You can make a s

        • by Genda (560240)

          This is way cool. I built (when I was just a young'n and still have) a 3 tube regenerative radio with 6 hand wound air coils providing me with 5 shortwave and 1 AM broadcast band of reception. I also have an old crystal set around the house somewhere. Old radios are almost more fun than the law should allow. I also have a project kit laying around someplace for receiving long wave transmissions to locate and record lightning anywhere in the world. With the sun becoming a bit more active the shorter SW Bands

        • Yeah, you cannot make any kind of a reasonable receiver with just two transistors. Especially not if you want FM. And of course there's no way any manufacturer would include unnecessary parts, especially transistors back in the day when they were expensive.

          That said here is the story of a Japanese POW camp AM radio [zerobeat.net] that was cobbled together using a single vacuum tube. That's a basic regenerative receiver, AM only.

      • Off topic, but on a similar note, I used to have a Sony Discman that proudly boasted a "1-bit DAC".

        WTF is a 1-bit DAC?

        • "1-bit DAC" is basically PDM (Pulse DensityModulation). Calling it "1-bit" is a confusing marketing term.

          It's hard to make an accurate DAC, since the weightings of the inputs have to be perfect powers of two which is hard to pull off. So instead, they use a very high frequency and use an on/off signal in the time domain to indicate the desired voltage. For example, to indicate "one fiftieth" you just leave the signal on for one fiftieth of your chosen time interval. This is very easy to do accurately us

    • by 517714 (762276)

      Pro-Troll puts a chip in its fish lures that 'duplicates the electrical nerve discharge of a wounded bait fish,' prompting other fish to bite it.

      Hmmm, I seem to remember hearing about this gimmick and also hearing that it varies in effectiveness with the bigger fish being a little bit more responsive (although I wish someone would bust out some statistics so I know this isn't snake oil).

      It isn't snake oil. Snake oil is far more effective as a lure enhancer.

    • by Aeros (668253)
      Why not just produce a lure so when it detects a fish within 3 feet shoots off an nice electrical charge killing anything in its perimeter. But im not sure how long it take how the fish to float to the top to become a delicious meal.
    • by n_djinn (1883738)
      Were talking about fishermen, a select set of mainly men that are at the same time highly technically proficient and low tech.
    • Fishing lures are meant to lure the fisherman into buying them, more so than luring the fish to bite.
    • "I think the marketing name took hold of the submitter and editor here"

      Yet more confirmation of my theory that expensive fishing lures are designed to catch wallets, not fish.
  • Unmanned mowers: Belrobotics of Belgium offers a computerized mower that autonomously trims lawns. It's equipped with a sonar system so that when it approaches an obstacle, it slows to a point where it makes "very slight initial contact," and then turns away. The mower's blades can't inflict serious wounds, the company insists, and pets get so used to it they "consider the robot almost as a companion."

    They've had these for quite a while now. By previous boss, who retired and moved to Florida about five year

    • You know there is a version of this that doesn't require any fossil fuels or electricity. One brand is called Sheep, another is called Goat.
      • And their byproducts are methane, urea and turds, and they are illegal to keep in many dense urban areas. I'll take the robots thanks.
        • by Bucky24 (1943328)

          And their byproducts are methane, urea and turds.

          You mean of course the included handy auto-fertilizing unit?

    • by luder (923306) *

      The mower's blades can't inflict serious wounds, the company insists

      By previous boss, who retired and moved to Florida about five years ago, had one when he was still working.

      Guess the wounds are kind of serious after all.

  • by mlts (1038732) * on Monday December 20, 2010 @04:39PM (#34620406)

    The same technology that is used to give a decent bidet clean and check the urine for problems can be easily used as evidence for job termination, or even probable cause for search warrants should it find certain chemicals in the pee stream.

    • by couchslug (175151) on Monday December 20, 2010 @04:46PM (#34620496)

      "The same technology that is used to give a decent bidet clean and check the urine for problems can be easily used as evidence for job termination, or even probable cause for search warrants should it find certain chemicals in the pee stream."

      Better put one in the sink then. :)

    • Easily fixed - get you and your co-workers to start dumping odd chemicals in during bathroom breaks. One week, dump in enough corn syrup to warrant the company hiring a nurse specializing in diabetes. Next week, bring on the gasoline. Week after that, break out those oils that your missus likes to perfume the house with.

      I figure in a month, they'll either stop monitoring the thing, or they'll have to call in a hazmat team.

      • by vlm (69642)

        Next week, bring on the gasoline.

        That's the only one you really need, that and a match and a taco bell bag to plant as fake evidence.

  • by knghtrider (685985) on Monday December 20, 2010 @04:41PM (#34620430) Homepage

    As an avid fresh and saltwater angler, I can say right now that the 'microchip' in the lure is a long line of 'gimmicks' that will catch no more fish than any other 'gimmick' like that, such as the 'Laser Lure'. Yes, Virginia, it has a laser diode in it that lights it up when underwater; and it's even touted by professional angler Mike Iaconelli [mikeiaconelli.com].

    Fish respond first and foremost to the environmental conditions that induce them to feed, followed by sight, scent and vibration. There are other factors as well, such as 'matching the hatch' (meaning that your lures better be very close in color, size and shape to the forage in the area), weather, and yes even the phase of the moon to a certain degree.

    I don't know about the other items, although the memory module for the headstone doesn't seem to be a bad thing;

    • by publiclurker (952615) on Monday December 20, 2010 @04:53PM (#34620598)
      As an avid angler you should know that the only "bite" that is important to a lot of these lure manufacturers is the one where the fisherman decides to buy the ting.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Obfuscant (592200)
      Yes, Virginia, it has a laser diode in it that lights it up when underwater; and it's even touted by professional angler Mike Iaconelli

      Once upon a time, we (I) were involved in an experiment measuring waves breaking on the shore on the Oregon coast. We had the idea of putting a laser with a line generator pointing at the bottom, monitored by a camera, and we could monitor the erosion or accretion of the beach. It wasn't bright enough (the laser, not the idea) to see in the daylight, so we waited patientl

    • As an avid fresh and saltwater angler, I can say right now that the 'microchip' in the lure is a long line of 'gimmicks' that will catch no more fish than any other 'gimmick' like that, such as the 'Laser Lure'.

      Well duh. Did you not see the company's name?

      Pro-Troll puts a chip in its fish lures...

    • by n_djinn (1883738)
      Agreed; as a resident of Hawaii and Alaska, I spend an inordinate amount of time harvesting from the ocean. Fish will bite at their bait, where is very important and what is less so. You choose to fish, you will catch something unless there are no fish. I don't consider it sport, its food for me. I can limit every time I fish for salmon because I know where to go.
  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Monday December 20, 2010 @04:44PM (#34620458) Journal

    On behalf of myself and the rest of your distant ancestors, I'd like to (sorta) apologize for the huge pile of steamy and unintelligble shit you're going to be stuck with having to untangle, if you ever figure out what an RFID tag/chip was. You thought DRM was bad? Hah! good luck with this one, campers.

    You're going to see these little critters everywhere, in everything, and not know WTF they do. No, we're not doing it to screw with you... well, not overtly, anyway.

    Either case, with a little luck, maybe you'll figure it out. We're sorry about the migraines it'll create anyway.

    (...what, you say nobody will be able to read this by that time? Feh - /. will still be around by then, no sweat. It'll be in the crusty-but still-running server powered by grits. Hot grits, to be precise. And uname -a on it will *still* cough up a version 2.4 kernel.)

  • by captaindomon (870655) on Monday December 20, 2010 @04:45PM (#34620482)
    The "Memory Medallion" for gravestones is not a microchip, it's a 2D barcode.
    • by saihung (19097)

      Yep. Either way, the concept is neat but pointless. In 50 or 100 years, no one is going to have the ancient tech necessary to read this and the company that maintains the web sites won't exist. If it were self-contained it might have a slightly longer shelf-life, but seriously: does anyone believe that mobile phones (in whatever form they'll exist) will have bluetooth in a few decades? When's the last time anyone has seen an Ir transceiver on a new mobile phone?

      • by 517714 (762276) on Monday December 20, 2010 @05:51PM (#34621414)

        Yep. Either way, the concept is neat but pointless. In 50 or 100 years, no one is going to have the ancient tech necessary to read this

        With the trends in the education system the average person will be equally unable to decode the name and text etched into the gravestone.

      • by timeOday (582209)

        In 50 or 100 years, no one is going to have the ancient tech necessary to read this and the company that maintains the web sites won't exist.

        In the vast majority of cases, nobody will care about the corpse in 50-100 years, either.

        However, including GPS coordinates in burial records absolutely makes sense, and would allow a visitor with a GPS and Internet-enabled device to automatically pull up biographical information. (Granted, GPS wouldn't narrow it down to the *exact* gravesite in many cases, but se

        • Give it a few decades in seismically active regions, and you will find that everything moved enough to make that GPS system useless. Unless maybe if you measured relative to a fixed point on the yard.
    • by Lanteran (1883836)
      something about that makes me think of the graves at the end of serenity, with the deceased's face in video on top of the grave.
    • Sorry, but the source [infoswebs.com] is in French.

      It's solar-powered, autonomous, bluetooth enabled, high-tech tombstone, which can show you the former life of deceased persons as seen through the social web.

      And, for the french read, obligatory Boulet reference [bouletcorp.com].

  • Reminds me of 2050 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zero0ne (1309517) on Monday December 20, 2010 @04:47PM (#34620520) Journal

    Reminds me of the 3 part series that was done on Science Channel called "The year 2050" The first episode was about medical advancements and the wired home, second one was about the wired city with a old 2000's virus like outbreak, and the 3rd was about space.

    Had some pretty good insights... One of which was the toilet that would analyse your urine and shoot the report to your health care provider. The guy in the scenario was using fake pee in the toilet to "pass" the screening because he didn't want the health provider to know about his binge drinking [or drug use] he did the night before.

  • I personally used to refer to a chip as something that contained a couple of gates at least, or has some sort of binary logic capabilities, and relies directly on other components. A 'chip' could not function alone (such as with RFID) nor can a chip be something that you hook something up to to get an ID of a product. A chip would be some little 'black' component with at least 8 wires coming out. Yes, I know that is antiquated, but my experience dealing with these things for 20 years has biased what I th
    • by Coren22 (1625475)

      There are RFID devices that compute as well. Not those stupid stickers, but much larger keychain style ones.

      • by carcomp (1887830)
        Correct, those I would consider a chip, but it seems like the general consensus is anything with silicon is a chip. I don't agree.
  • I hear that soon they'll have the Internet on computer chips!

  • So, when will microchips replace bacteria as the most successful lifeform? The certainly have done a good job getting their host (us) to replicate them and distribute them among all the plethora of creations we turn our hands to.
    • by vlm (69642)

      So, when will microchips replace bacteria as the most successful lifeform?

      Six billion Microchip Inc PIC processors shipped is a recent news release. Six billion bacteria is the toilet seat in the bathroom here at work. Got a lot of catching up to do before the 10F222 surpasses e. coli.

  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Monday December 20, 2010 @05:16PM (#34620882) Homepage

    Yo dawg, we heard you like micro-chips, so we put micro-chips in yo micro-chips so you can root while you root

  • by GPLDAN (732269) on Monday December 20, 2010 @05:18PM (#34620914)
    Is the PERFECT Baby Boomer technology. I mean, PERFECT.
  • When I die, my tombstone will double as an arcade machine.

  • If they are at the point of putting chips inside the lure, might as well add a mini tazer,
    and stun the fish to stop fighting...would be more practical!

    • If they are at the point of putting chips inside the lure, might as well add a mini tazer, and stun the fish to stop fighting...would be more practical!

      Actually there IS a fish taser. More of a remote control for fish, actually. It's based on the reactions of fish muscles and/or nerves to pulsed DC currents in the water.

      At a low threshold the fish starts to twich, in a way that turns it to face the positive electrode. At a somewhat higher threshold it involuntarily swims toward the electrode. At a third

      • Typoed the link:

        Much info here. [bshttp]

        Interestingly, the Electric Eel has its positive pole near it's head and delivers appropriate pulses to pull off this stunt. Perhaps it doesn't just use its pulses to detect and stun its prey, but actually forces fish to swim toward its head?

        (The electric catfish has the poles arranged the other way. Oh, well...)

      • I meant more like a tazer inside the lure, so that it is not illegal, as the fish has already eaten the lure, and you are not affecting any other fish except the one that ate your bate. Then when you feel the pull, send the remote to charge the lure, and voila floats to the top paralyzed, long enough for you to bring him in, and place him inside a container.....although I have a hard time keeping them alive, cuz afterwards I don't want to kill them.

  • The headstone devices cannot be allowed for two reasons:

    • There is simply no way for the Australian Government to censor the material being transmitted across the evil Internet thingy.
    • There is some difficulty for the RIAA/MPAA attempting to sue for royalties. This is, of course, a far lesser problem because the RIAA/MPAA have fewer qualms about pursuing the dead for "what's rightfully owed." Such action would have to be for the life of the headstone in advance (copyright terms will soon be longer than th
  • If this has ever happened to you know, you know how much damage it can generate, especially if its on the 2nd level of a house and goes unnoticed for any length of time. They could also perhaps increase the tank capacity back to reasonable levels and only use as much water as necessary to appease the water conservation freaks (the residential toilets sold now have jokingly low capacities and therefore weak flushes due to federal laws passed in the 1990s)

  • It's a QR code. and anyone can have a QR code etched into a tombstone making his "product" useless.

    And it's a dumb idea. 100 years from now that website will be defunct, and that is what is the usefulness of such a thing would be. Better would be a induction powered transmitter with about 1 meg of storage that is not a flash but a mask rom so it can survive at least 200 years without problems.

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