Friday, July 17, 2015

NFC Tags in the Garden

I had this hair brained scheme to NFC tag the plants in our garden. The thinking was, it would be easier to keep track of them if all I had to do was hover my phone over a tag and recite a status update. So I ordered some basic NFC tag stickers from eBay, stuck them to Popsicle sticks, labeled them with a permanent marker, and placed them next to the plants I wanted to track. Here's how the setup looked a little over a week ago:

Today, here are the same two tags:

Keep in mind, that over the last week we've had a number of major rain storms. It's pretty amazing, other than the stickers wanting to peel off a bit, they are in fine shape. They still scan just fine and the Sharpie writing is still visible. I'm actually quite impressed. The eBay seller promised they were water proof and they appear to be.

I've also stuck some of these stickers to jars to test out tracking some vodka infusions we're doing. The sticker that I didn't flub up (see below) is working well. It's inside a cabinet, so no big surprise there.

There have been, however a number of lessons learned:

  • Don't stick the stickers on anything metal. In hindsight, this is obvious, but my first move was to stick the NFC tag to a metal jar lid. Of course it doesn't work. Which leads me to my next gotcha...
  • Don't expect to peel these off and re-use them. I tried to salvage the NFC tag that I stuck to the top of the jar, and I was mostly able to peel it off. But it's nowhere near as reliable as the one that I just stuck to the glass side of the jar in the first place. Placing the stickers on popsicle sticks works fine.
  • Don't try to back the stickers with duct tape. I figured I could get the tags to stop peeling if I filled in the edges with duct tape. I can't explain the properties of duct tape (or perhaps the glue?) that makes the tags not work, but I can tell you, they don't work. Or they didn't work for me. I ran a few other tests and found that I could turn a strip of duct tape into a stylus for my touch screen, so something is definitely up with it.

All in all, the tags are surviving well and I'm finding the logging to be painless. Will they last for months? Time will tell, but so far, so good.