This technology is over 60 years old, which is [kinda cool](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thing_(listening_device).
I don’t want to take away from this work - I find it very innovative, but I think we at lobste.rs should de-click bait titles because in the process we can make them more accurate.
Let’s try “Researchers develop 3-D printed modifiable radio backscatter tags”
The article it self if pretty good, though it uses some questionable analogies, but it gets the job done.
Summary: The 3D printed objects have radio characteristics that allow them to act as backscatter tags generating an observable and interpretable signature in the presence of background radio fields. A key innovation is the addition of mechanisms that alter the backscatter tag by pressing a button or twisting something, allowing the passive tag to covey state information - my detergent is out, or my toothpaste is out.
There is no word yet on whether the Laundry detergent cap or the tooth paste cap will win out in the inevitable tussle for bandwidth.
Is it a sign of our times that the example application is ordering fresh laundry detergent from Amazon? Or perhaps I shouldn’t be so snooty and acknowledge that escape from the drudgery of housework has been a prime motivator for technological innovation. That and computer games.