The RFID Ecosystem is a large-scale project with participants from various research groups at the University of Washington's Department of Computer Science and Engineering. The project investigates user-centered RFID systems in connection with technology, business, and society. Past research on user applications of RFID has been limited to short-term technology and user studies in restricted scenarios. In contrast, the RFID Ecosystem provides a living laboratory for long-term, in-depth research in applications, databases, privacy, security, and systems.

   A central question in this research is in the balance between privacy and utility. Are there user-centered RFID applications that are truly useful? If so, how can they be designed to minimize loss of privacy? Finally, if these applications are indeed useful, does the utility outweigh the potential loss of privacy? We seek to answer these questions through careful, long-term user studies in which participation is optional and participants have control over their data and may opt out at any time.

   To this end, we have deployed a permanent, building-wide RFID test-bed in the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering that includes hundreds of RFID readers and thousands of tags. The overarching goal of the project is to inform the community (including businesses and policy makers) of the risks, benefits, and challenges of user-centered RFID systems while proposing technological solutions whenever possible - and to do so before such systems become commonplace.

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*  The RFID Ecosystem Project is funded by National Science Foundation (NSF) Award Titled “RFID Ecosystem” (NSF CRI grant CNS-0454394) as well as NSF CRI Grant CNS-0454425, NSF Grant IIS-0713123, Gifts from Intel Research, Microsoft Research including a gift under the SensorMap RFP and Balazinska's Microsoft Research New Faculty Fellowship, The University of Washington's College of Engineering.

* Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.