Microsoft Research working on embedding coded tags in 3D printed objects

Microsoft has already announced that Windows 8.1 includes native support for 3D printers, Now there's word that Microsoft Research is looking to extend the uses of 3D printed object beyond just the making of quick prototypes.

The Microsoft Research website has the first word on this new project, called InfraStructs, which is being presented as a paper during this week's SIGGRAPH 2013 conference. The idea is that 3D printed objects could have embedded coded tags that are put in place inside these objects. The code could be anything from serial numbers to even simple programs and would eliminate the need to physically put in a electronic chip for the same purpose. The code could then be read and decoded by a terahertz scanning device. Such a device could sense code or imagery inside a 3D printed object. The paper that introduces this concept was co-authored by Microsoft principal researcher Andy Wilson, who thinks it could have many uses:

He sees the concept applied in future applications such as customized game accessories with embedded tags for location sensing; tabletop computing with tangible objects sensed through other objects beneath them; and, when the technology becomes more portable, mobile robots with THz range finders that can recognize objects in the surrounding area.

InfraStructs will be one of 19 papers that Microsoft Research will present at SIGGRAPH 2013 this week.

Source: Microsoft | Image via Microsoft

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Why do I get the feeling this has more to do with tracking things like printed guns than anything else. Relax fanboys, no need to jump to their defense, just speculating.

That could be part of it, though from what I've heard if you can afford a 3D printer capable of making an untraceable gun, you'd be able to pay for one anyway. No, I think this is heading towards anti-piracy for commercial models/designs. Personally it annoys me greatly how so many firms are desperately trying to commercialise 3D printers because that's just not how it works in "hacking" communities where they are most popular, but that's just me.

Hahaiah said,
Why do I get the feeling this has more to do with tracking things like printed guns than anything else. Relax fanboys, no need to jump to their defense, just speculating.

That was my first thought too. Guess it's the times we live in, and the fact that I recently found out that pretty much all colour laser printers, print tiny yellow tracking dots across the entire page of every document you print (if that document contains an image)