RFID Playing Card Reader

I found out about a man who became blind later in life and wanted a way to still play cards with his wife. Some tactile symbols on the cards could definitely be an option. Alternately I was curious how quickly and cheaply I could set up an electronic RFID reader to tell him what the cards were. Not sure how optimal of a solution it is, but here’s where I got in an hour. Speakers are used for this demo, but in actual use headphones would be preferred.

One way of electronically identifying objects is with RFID tags like these that I used.
Those particular ones have the form factor of stickers, making them easy to attach.

You can pretty affordably get an RFID tag reader like this one, that can be easily used with an Arduino or Raspberry Pi.

Special thanks to Adafruit for the easy quality parts, great tutorials, and easy to grab and modify code. That made putting together this quick test super easy. One great tutorial relevant to this project is here.

This project runs on a Raspberry Pi, connects to an RFID reader breakout over SPI to read the RFID tags attached to the playing cards, and then speaks the name of the card it detected. To do the text-to-speech on a Raspberry Pi there are many options, some of which listed here. The option I used in the video was Google’s text to speech option, which requires an internet connection, but sounds pretty good. Another option I tried was espeak, but it sounded a little too robotic for my taste, at least with the default settings.

You can find the final code I used here.


4 thoughts on “RFID Playing Card Reader

  1. Hi, I am a bridge pro player ( a card game), in recent years we got cheating scandals for top players exchanging information with their partner using body signals, one way to avoid it would be to put partner away from vision and detecting which cards he plays to show them on a screen,

    This would also help with automatic broadcasting of games played at top level.

    Do you think this would be possible?

    1. Hello. My apologies for the very delayed response. Hopefully you have already found the info you need. In general it is possible with RFID tagged cards and the right reader. Or alternately, with a computer vision setup to read the cards.

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