Technology
Touchatag RFID reader teardown photos

Touchatag (formerly TikiTag) is a very interesting looking consumer-level RFID (radio frequency identification) product. They can be used in many ways, from toilet paper inventory control to managing your Airwolf VHS tape lending library. I plan to get one soon to test out and do a proper review. (It probably won’t displace my iConveyor as my favorite RFID device!)
MAKE pal Kent Barnes send these photos of the device’s innards for us all to enjoy. Note the SIM card; what’s that doing there?

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22 thoughts on “Touchatag RFID reader teardown photos

  1. The RFID thing is cool, but I’d even more love someone to point me to a source for that fabulous little screwdriver shown in the 3rd picture. I received one as a present a few years ago, and it broke, and I have no idea where to get a replacement. Help!
    Thanks :)

  2. I’m personally very concerned by the presence of a SIM card here. Is this a method to uniquely identify consumer RFID products? Perhaps to log every tag read?

    I can’t think of a good reason for it to be there, and I’d really like to hear the manufacturer’s explanation!

  3. I haven’t looked closely yet at what they’re offering as far as functionality that would use the SIM card. They do mention Near Field Communication with some brands of cell phone. First I’ve heard of that; something to do with HF RFID. Maybe that explains the SIM card? Or is the SIM just another form factor of cheap memory?

    Kent sent along the hardware manufacturer’s spec .pdf if anyone’s interested: http://www.acs.com.hk/download/ACR122/API_ACR122U.pdf

      1. Thanks! Here’s the quote from that page:

        “The SAM or Secure Access Module is an additional feature in a Smart Card Reader that can enhance the level of security in your Smart Card based application. Normally card authentication is implemented in PC or application level. However with the presence of a SAM, key diversification and mutual authentication can be implemented between card and reader which means that the PC will not perform the authentication but it will
        be done via card to reader and reader to card authentication making your system more secure and less prone to hacking.”

        … so basically, the SIM is performing authentication instead of the PC, on the idea that the PC might get hacked. According to that link, here’s the reference manual for that card:

        http://www.acs.com.hk/download/REF_ACOS6.pdf

  4. @David,
    The screwdriver was from Orchard Supply Hardware 99 cent bin so I bought 4!
    OSH is owned by Sear’s so they may carry it too.

  5. My guess the SIM card is in there because it’s an OEM version of a Japanese FeliCa thingummy. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_FeliCa ) where it can authorize cash transactions and the like. The SIM card would be used to verify that the device is actually the one you say it is.

    So my guess is that the SIM card is used for good security, not evil privacy invasion. (What privacy could it invade? A SIM card is basically just a big serial number, it’s not connected to a transmitter in your fillings.)

  6. Agreed. A piece of hardware sitting there isn’t evil or good in and of itself. It’s how someone chooses to use it. It could be a beacon sending a message to the mother ship saying “Hi, I’m fine, weather’s great, wish you were here” or it could be reporting back tons of super secret info about me. Same hardware, different software and intention.

  7. It is NOT a SIM(Subscriber Identity Module) it is a SAM (Secure Access Module) in the reader.

    “A Security Authentication Module card or SAM card is a smart card in a reduced form factor similar to a Sim card. SAM cards are usually used to hold cryptographic keys inside point of sale terminal units.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAM_card

    “A Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) on a removable SIM Card securely stores the service-subscriber key (IMSI) used to identify a subscriber on mobile telephony devices (such as computers and mobile phones).” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subscriber_Identity_Module

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John Edgar Park likes to make things and tell people about it. He builds project for Adafruit Industries. You can find him at jpixl.net and twitter/IG @johnedgarpark

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