Coca-Cola Freestyle RFID

edited June 2016 in RFID/NFC
I want to be Fanta.

Coca-Cola's Freestyle machines use rfid technology to keep track of information that relates to the drink cartridges. This information includes the contents of the cartridge, the expiration date, the remaining volume of the cartridge, the date the seal was pierced by the machine, etc.

I do not yet know what frequency or ISO the tags use, whether or not it could be easily cloned, or how easy it would be to simply coat the existing tag in silicone. Do any of you know anything about the specifics of these tags?


  • A quick bit of research shows that the RFID components used in these machines are made by a company called Impinj.  Further research shows these guys seem to mainly do UHF, so I'm betting it is a UHF tag.  Beyond that, I have nothing else to contribute.
  • @trybalwolf Like aviin says, most likely UHF. The readers for these are expensive and the development kits for writing even more so. There are some readers that claim to also write for $100-$175 on Amazon, eBay, and Aliexpress, but I've never tried those. Readers with copy/clone function appear to be the high end development kits. 

    I've been pondering how to use these UHF RFID tags (LINK) as an implant to emulate inventory codes since it's tiny, sturdy, and safely used in livestock tagging and medical implants. I thought it might be fun to be scannable as a lawn tractor. I just haven't been able to move forward because of the cost of the readers.
  • Oh... I am having a UHF reader shipped to me for a job thing... Anyone have a suggestion how I should go about playing with it to help?
  • I've used the freestyle machines before but as I recall you simply use a touch interface and push a button. As far as I can tell, the RFID is attached to each drink cartridge and is used to track how much of each beverage is dispensed as well as making sure the correct beverage is dispensed. I don't believe one would be able to directly interface with the machine considering the reader is internal to the unit and it wouldn't automatically select your favorite drink flavor using the ID you coded.

    Interesting technology though. Truly.
  • That's not actually what I am intending to do. You are correct, reading a tag to select a flavor is completely outside of the programming of the freestyle machines.

    Regarding the UHF (if that is indeed what frequency these machines use) being internal, you are somewhat correct. There are readers on the interior that read the tags, but there is also an additional reader on the front of the unit which can be used to open the lower door by scanning the tag, or to read the information stored on it (though it may be that Coka Cola's network stores all the information, and the tag is only a unique identifier to connect the data to a given package). 

    What I want to do is be able to tap my arm to the reader on the front of the unit and have the lower door open. In addition, if you were to scan the tag using the "rfid information" function located within the service menu, you would be able to see the unique information associated with the tag (which I described in part above).

    To beat anyone else to it, yes this idea is completely useless. But that doesn't mean that it wouldn't be hilarious to tell a restaurant employee that the Fanta was out, only to swipe your arm, have the door open and show that you are indeed Fanta.
  • Hahaha this is great I love it.
  • @Meanderpaul Would you care to be Dr. Pepper? :3
  • Im looking at this for the universal studios refill cups. When you got a family of 9 !! it might be a bit more practical to see if there is a way to edit the cups yourselves with a bluetooth RFID writer and your iphone ? Has anyone gone down this route yet?

  • @bleemster I actually am unfamiliar with those refill cups... Will have to do some research... My guess is they have a good IT team who has set up safegaurds against exploits, but you never know.

    I actually walked into Panera Bread after they installed their NFC table numbering system. Turns out all the tags in the table were unlocked. So I typed up a message inviting people who were interested in RF tech to contact me to talk abt it, and wrote that, and my contact info to every tag in the table...

    You'd think they would have locked the tags...

    Just a quick story to say that sometimes even large corporations overlook seemingly large details like whether or not a tag can be changed.

  • @bleemster I found this.

    "I can really only use the Coke Freestyle cup for the day?

    Yes and no.

    We say “yes” because the Coke Freestyle cups can only be used the day you purchase them for free refills at the Coke Freestyle stations. Universal is able to track this because each cup has an RFID chip inside it (RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification). The first time you use your cup, the Coke Freestyle station registers it using the RFID chip for use that day. If you return days later with the same cup, the station will read the chip, see that it’s expired, and it will not dispense what you desire.

    We say “no” because you have the option of purchasing additional days of Coke Freestyle access for the discounted price of $8.99, plus tax. (Note: the days do not have to be consecutive.)"

    The main question is whether or not Universal Studios pre-registers all their cups in a database prior to sale, and they are only "activated" at first fill. The other possibility is that the cups serial IDs are not previously stored in a database.

    If the second situation is the case, you could potentially exploit their system by determining what type of tag is used on the cups, and what data the cups RFID tags are expected to contain. You could potentially walk into the park with a series of tags, and scan those, rather than the tags on the cups.

    That said, if the cups IDs are added to a database before they are filled, I think your only option would be to use a skimmer, and clone tags from cups that have not yet been sold.

    I won't debate the ethics here... But that's how I could see their system working.

    ...that said, we could also debate the ethics of the park charging $15.99 for a cup that allows free refills when the soda itself costs ~$0.12 a fill, and the cup probably around $1.00. At that rate, you would need to consume nearly 125 cups worth of soda before they started to lose any money.

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