The premier industry event for radio frequency and related connectivity and communication technologies, RFID Journal LIVE!, is here again and our RFID reader development platform for OEMs – Mercury xPRESS – has been selected as one of the ten finalists for the 2014 RFID Journal Best in Show award! The award is given to the company that exhibits the best new RFID product or service at the show. RFID Journal Founder and Editor, Mark Roberti, praised the finalists, citing the breadth and scope of the offerings as they illustrate how far companies have come in using RFID technology on a large scale.
ThingMagic introduced the Mercury xPRESS Platform earlier this year, hitting a market at just the right time. Since introducing the xPRESS Platform, we’ve seen customer interest grow quickly. Regardless of comapny size or embedded RFID project, developers are demanding products that will enable them to create and deploy RFID applications more quickly and easily.
This interest stems in part from the barriers driven down by the innovative Mercury 6e Series of modules, which are supported by the platform. These modules enable OEMs to build smaller yet more powerful devices and solutions. With the Mercury xPRESS platform, developers can now focus on designing the next generation of application-specific readers, handhelds, mobile devices and more – solutions that will bring innovation, automation and process improvement to markets that, until now, have yet to realize the true value of RFID.
The Mercury xPRESS platform includes hardware, software and reference documentation that enable more efficient development of low-cost, high-performance application-specific RFID solutions. With the platform, developers can bring up a fully functional RFID reader in minutes and demonstrate proof of concept using sample applications from the software library almost immediately. This means rapid integration of RFID with a wider variety of products and complementary wireless communication technologies. And, to support ongoing innovation, the integrated development tools, device drivers and application software of the Mercury xPRESS Platform will be enhanced with updates that expand capabilities and enable development of a wider range of end products.
The broad range of product and solution development that is possible through the Mercury xPRESS Platform is something we’re looking forward to exploring with everyone at this year’s RFID Journal LIVE!
ThingMagic is pleased to announce that its Micro and Micro-LTE UHF RFID modules now operate within the recently ratified 920 MHz ultra-high frequency (UHF) standard in Japan. The ratification by Japan to expand the nation’s UHF standard to 920 MHz is further proof of what we’ve seen happening for some time now – RFID is going global.
Japan’s move to a standard that is compatible with much of the rest of the world’s radio frequency range represents a significant lowering of barriers to RFID implementation. It will now be easier to integrate high performance RFID features into products that can change how industries in Japan operate and become more productive. The shift in Japan from a 955 MHz band to a 920 MHz band, in part, represents an opportunity for a market that was valued at just over $637 million (66.7 billion Yen) in FY2012 to grow to a projected $940 million (98.4 billion Yen) in FY2017 (according to Yano Research Institute in Japan).
For developers and OEMs using ThingMagic products, this means they can now support the Japanese market with the industry-leading products they’re already using today. Organizations looking to deploy solutions in Japan are now able to use the ThingMagic Micro and Micro-LTE modules – known for their high performance and read distance in a form factor – in a host of markets, ranging from healthcare to retail to manufacturing and more.
At ThingMagic, we’ve developed some of the most advanced embedded RFID reader modules on the market, and now developers and OEMs are able to move forward in providing progressive solutions in Japan without limitation.
Founded in 2006 and headquartered in Carlsbad, Calif., MEPS® Real-Time, Inc. (mepsrealtime.com) is now a leading provider of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) solutions for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. Its suite of Intelliguard® Management Systems offer healthcare providers unprecedented real-time visibility of medical and pharmaceutical inventory to reduce supply chain costs, improve patient safety, increase efficiency of pharmacy and nursing staff and eliminate human error.
MEPS Real-Time® was established originally as a division of Safety Syringes Inc. which was recently acquired by BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) (NYSE: BDX). The company is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Howard Energy Co., Inc. based in Traverse City, Michigan.
Thanks to Paul Elizondo, Director of Engineering and R&D at MEPS for sharing his insights into the use of RFID in the healthcare market and for his thoughts on ThingMagic's embedded RFID technology and development tools.
Q. MEPS products are positioned as “RFID Solutions for Critical Inventory”. Please comment on the types of inventory your products are used to manage and the value RFID enabling your products provides your customers?
A. Our solutions are focused on high-value, critical dose, controlled drugs and processes. This is where we find the value proposition exists for our hospital customers. When you have a drug that costs hundreds and even thousands of dollars per dose, there is an obvious value to reduce inventory levels and manage expiration dates.
Reducing inventory of high-value drugs can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars freed up for the hospital. But, the drugs must always be there when required for a patient. Our systems provide real-time visibility of inventory, can provide immediate notification of minimum PAR levels, and are perfect solutions for a vendor managed inventory program.
These high-value drugs can also be an expiration risk. Typically, inventory is manually rotated by pharmacy personnel as new inventory arrives so that the first to expire is the first to be utilized. But, that doesn’t always occur. Additionally, inventory can be stored in multiple locations throughout a hospital. Our solutions provide real-time visibility to expiration dates and provide alerts when a drug becomes short-dated so pharmacy personnel can take appropriate action.
Another key value proposition is critical processes within the pharmacy where time-consuming tasks are performed. One of these critical processes is the replenishment of pharmacy kits, trays and boxes distributed throughout the hospital. Once used on a procedure (surgical or emergency), it is returned to the pharmacy. Some trays contain more than 150 drugs. The missing and used items must be identified, replaced and then each drug must be looked at to find the first-to-expire drug. It is a process filled with human error potential and can take 30 minutes or more. Our solution reduces the time to three to five minutes and with complete accuracy.
Our Intelliguard® Solutions include:
Intelliguard Medication Management – Features an Automated Dispensing Cabinet (ADC) that provides real-time, item-level visibility of pharmaceuticals with single and double-drawer options including Cold (2° - 8°C) storage.
Intelliguard Inventory Management – Features Controlled Temperature Cabinets that enable continuous temperature monitoring and real-time inventory visibility of high-value, critical-care medications. Cabinets have preset temperature settings for Cold (2° - 8°C) or Controlled Room (20° - 25°C) storage. Available sizes are from small under-counter to large-capacity models.
Intelliguard Kit and Tray Management Systems – Features countertop unit or an all-in-one cart to automate tray inventory, replenishment and approval processes while significantly reducing required labor. Leveraging advanced RFID technology, enables scans of more than 150 medications in high-density trays, multi-layer tackle boxes and overlapping kit labels in a matter of seconds.
Q. Throughout its history, MEPS products have supported various RFID frequencies including 13.56 MHz high-frequency and 2.45 GHz passive, before settling on settling on EPC Gen 2/ISO 18000-6c UHF. Can you share lessons learned with each technology and the advantages Gen2 UHF offers?
A. In the year 1999, we employed 13.56 MHz RFID technology in our first attempt to track medication in small enclosures. The complexity of the read antenna systems, resulting from the inductive coupling nature of the 13.56 MHz frequency, along with the non-deterministic, multi-tag read algorithm made it difficult to develop an accurate, repeatable and cost-effective system.
In 2003, MEPS decided to change frequencies and replace 13.56 MHz RFID technology with the recently developed 2.45 GHz RFID technology. This frequency offered the advantage of small read antennas, small RFID tags, high data rates, and a deterministic multi-tag read algorithm. While MEPS was able to develop and successfully deploy a refrigerated medication tracking product, reliability issues associated with the new technology and the lack of a worldwide standards made it difficult to move forward with commercial products.
In 2008, MEPS began the process of developing medication tracking solutions based on the newly ratified EPC Gen2 / ISO 18000-6c UHF RFID standard. The new air protocol standard offered high data rates, reliable RF communication, deterministic multi-tag read algorithm, noise mitigation, control of modulation type and control of other parameters for customizing the RFID identification process for challenging applications. In addition, this world standard at the UHF frequency has benefited integrators and end users by creating competition around a single air protocol resulting in higher performing tags and readers while reducing cost of ownership.
MEPS Real-Time has developed a large portfolio of intellectual property including trademarks, patents and patents pending.
Q. The adoption of UHF RFID in healthcare seems to be growing. What is MEPS experiencing and what are your expectations for the future of UHF in this industry?
A. The business is experiencing huge growth and interest in our Intelliguard RFID Solutions. We believe this has occurred because technology is quickly being identified as one of the only ways to reduce healthcare cost, improve quality of care, help prevent medication errors and increase staff efficiency. These are the key drivers in healthcare today.
We believe UHF RFID is an excellent enabling technology for many solutions in the hospital.
Today versus several years ago, customers are able to identify and purchase solutions instead of technology. As other RFID/Wireless solutions are successfully implemented with a positive ROI, such as RTLS/asset tracking solutions, customers consider additional opportunities to expand the benefits.
Research shows this trend continuing at a more rapid pace. New regulations such as the Drug Quality and Security Act (DQSA) will increase demand. Costs will be reduced and capabilities will increase for UHF readers, antennas, inlays and smart labels because of the adoption in retail and healthcare. This will open up more opportunities with pharmaceutical manufacturers to selectively replace barcode with RFID where there is a need for greater visibility of inventory.
Q. What do you see as the greatest barriers to integrating RFID into products and solutions?
A. Barriers that were there several years ago, are no longer there. UHF has all of the capabilities of HF and has greater long-term opportunities to expand and develop. It is a great solution for supply chain and MEPS has demonstrated that in all of our technology solutions as well as with our business partners.
The hardware, database and inlay/tag solutions are available. The biggest barrier is overcoming the inertia of (hospitals, medical clinics, etc.) continuing to operate in the same historical manner. The challenge is not so much in getting the “tag cost lower,” which has been a barrier in the past, but in demonstrating the value added and cost savings of employing true tracking and inventory systems.
Q. ThingMagic recently released our Mercury xPRESS Platform to simplify the integration of UHF RFID into products and solutions. As an early adopter of the Platform, what has MEPS’ experience been and which features do you think will assist your development efforts the most?
A. MEPS is developing several enclosure solutions for tracking medication in the healthcare market. These solutions require a small or headless computer system that can be configured for connection to a database wirelessly, by Ethernet or USB interface. The Mercury xPress Platform provides this flexibility as well as allowing the use of either the M6e or M6e Micro readers depending on the application. In addition, the Mercury xPRESS platform delivers an array of digital inputs and outputs for process control.
Q. A key feature of the xPRESS Platform is its extensible architecture, giving developers the flexibility to design for the future using a single platform. For example, over time, the xPRESS Platform will include a variety of communication interfaces such as Wi-Fi, POE, GPRS, GPS, 4G/LTE and a library of market and application specific sample applications. How do you feel this will support the development of RFID products in general and benefit MEPS® future development?
A. MEPS is developing RF-enabled enclosures for tracking medication in both stationary and mobile applications. As these solutions expand to address new tracking applications, the flexibility of the xPRESS Platform will facilitate the reconfiguration of products for new RF antenna systems, user interfaces, and control systems.
MEPS®, MEPS Real-Time® and Intelliguard® are registered trademarks and RFID Solutions for Critical Inventory™ are trademarks of MEPS Real-Time, Inc.
We all know our world is more connected than ever, as is evidenced by the millions of smart phones cradled in the hands of people all over the word. But beyond this, there is a vast world of connected devices that is projected to far exceed smart phones. From toll booths and parking spots to refrigerators and thermostats, many places and common place 'things' can and will be connected. This is what the Internet of Things is all about.
The Internet of Things has stealthily crept its way into our everyday lives, promising to create ease and efficiency in everything we do. In the years since the term “Internet of Things” was coined at the Auto-ID Center at MIT, its definition has evolved in some interesting ways. For example, Intel's tagline The Iternet of Things Starts with Intelligence Inside indicates their heavy focus on embedded technology. Cisco’s newly formed Internet of Things business unit has a vision to turn what were once physical products into services by enabling those products to deliver data. Their vision is broad, taking the Internet of Things a step further to The Internet of Everything. Just recently, SalesForce.com has begun defining its vision of IoT as The Internet of Customers. What ever the Internet of Things is or will eventually become, reserch firm Gartner predicts it is growing rapidly. By the year 2020, the Internet of Things market as defined by Gartner will grow to 26 billion units, representing an almost 30 fold increase from 2009.
While the Internet of Things may have expanded to inclue technologies and applications well beyond its roots in RFID, we believe RFID still plays a defining role, particularly as an embedded solution. We’re seeing this manifested in the growth of the RFID industry, with new applications of embedded RFID increasing at a rapid pace across a variety of industries and product categories.
To help drive this growth, ThingMagic recenlty announced the Mercury xPRESS Platform. The Mercury xPRESS Platform is the first of its kind development platform that will make new application-specific RFID product development faster, easier and less expensive.
Leveraging over 10 years of RFID technology advancements and development expertise from ThingMagic, we expect the Mercury xPRESS platform will revolutionize the way that RFID readers and embedded solutions are brought to market, inevitably strengthening RFID’s role in the Internet of Things.
To learn more, please attend our webinar: Innovating With Embedded RFID: Introducing ThingMagic's Mercury xPRESS Platform
We are excited to share the possibilities this new platform offers for designing the next generation of application-specific RFID readers, handhelds, mobile devices and more!
Image source: IEEE
Apprehension developers may have with embedding RFID in new solutions does not come from a lack of perceived value – that value has been proven time and time again.
Like many embedded technologies however, RFID has a history of challenging complexities; often requiring a deep understanding of both RF hardware and application software development.
To answer these challenges, we’ve introduced a comprehensive platform that allows developers to build RFID-enabled solutions with the backing of over a decade of ThingMagic RFID technology expertise and resources!
The first of its kind Mercury xPRESS Platform includes hardware, software and reference documentation to enable the rapid development of low-cost, high-performance application specific RFID readers and embedded RFID solutions. By simplifying the integration of RFID into new and existing solutions, the Mercury xPRESS Platform results in unit cost savings, deployments with a stronger ROI, and an overall positive bottom line impact in many deployments.
With the platform, developers can bring up a fully functional RFID reader in minutes and testing and proof of concept using sample applications from the software library can start almost immediately. No longer do developers need to have significant RFID domain expertise. This means rapid integration of RFID with a wider variety of products and complementary wireless communication technologies. And, to support ongoing innovation, the integrated development tools, device drivers and application software of the Mercury xPRESS Platform will be enhanced with updates that expand capabilities and enable development of a wider range of end products.
Key components of the Mercury xPRESS Platform include:
- Hardware kit with microcontroller-based motherboard, including:
- Integrated ThingMagic UHF RFID module (Micro, Micro-LTE, or M6e)
- USB interface
- Ports for up to 2 additional plug-in data transport interface modules
- MCU preloaded with sample keyboard wedge application
- An optional Bluetooth plug-in module
- Software toolkit and SDK
- Reference design files including schematics, layout files, Gerber files, bill of material, component data sheets
The growth of RFID has been fueled in part by innovative hardware like our M6e series of modules, which has eroded one major barrier to RFID adoption: having a module that is small enough and powerful enough to fit in readers and other devices that are continually required to be built smaller yet still operate with high performance.
Now with the Mercury xPRESS platform from ThingMagic, developers can focus on designing the next generation of application specific readers, handhelds, mobile devices and more – solutions that could bring innovation, automation and process improvement to markets that until now have not had the resources in place to realize the true value of RFID.
Like athletes constantly searching for the right combination of training and nutrition to make them stronger and faster, developers are always looking for new tools and techniques that make it easier to more quickly build smarter, more powerful applications. For both, it’s about maintaining that competitive edge that will set them apart from others. Developers are finding that the convergence of more efficient and advanced embeddable technology is enabling them to change the wireless industry with a new class of applications.
Embedded RFID has emerged as an extraordinary growth technology. Research shows RFID, contactless, RTLS and similar technologies are enabling a growing number of auto-ID, location, sensing, M2M and Internet of Things applications. According to VDC Research, the market for these applications could grow to over $8 billion within the next five years. And as embedded RFID module innovation continues - with more application-specific options and ease of use features making their way into products - the technology is becoming more desirable for integration.
As a manufacturer of RFID reader modules, we know the hardware is only part of the battle. Our M6e series of modules has pushed the industry standard for size and performance to a point where nearly any engineer or OEM can include RFID as a product feature. But what separates the ideal embedded RFID solution from competing options is a combination of hardware, software and development tools. The importance of having an advanced software capabilities and a robust set of design tools can’t be overstated. This is what will truly drive the growth of embedded RFID.
ThingMagic’s commitment to ease-of-use with our family of advanced RFID modules runs deeper than most. With all ThingMagic RFID modules comes a set of development tools designed to simplify the process of creating an RFID-enabled solution.
These include the ThingMagic RFID module developer kits, our Universal Reader Assistant utility for initializing readers and selecting application-specific performance settings, and our Mercury API SDK with sample applications and source code to help developers get started demonstrating and developing RFID functionality.
And we’re continually enhancing these tools, as the process of programming and implementation is hardly a static one. Most recently we added a set of enhancements to
the Mercury API, including Android OS Support. According to VDC Research, nearly one million developers will be developing applications for embedded systems and M2M applications using Android by the end of 2015. Now, with a sample
Android application and project files, developers can build ThingMagic RFID-enabled Android applications with an easy “out of the box” solution!
Embedding RFID, like integrating any technology, comes with its challenges, which is exactly the reason it’s necessary to drive down these barriers from every direction. RFID exists to simplify the data collection processes and improve business process, but if it’s not simple to implement an RFID solution, it may be hard for some to justify. It is possible to embed RFID with ease, and requires only that a developer find a partner whose offerings can turn them into a championship-level performer.
> Download our Embedded RFID Module Brochure
Let us know how ThingMagic can help you embed RFID with ease!
How mobile computing devices have changed our personal lives is obvious, but enterprises and business professionals today are being similarly affected by the 24/7/365 nature of being connected. The enterprise presents its own challenges for mobility, one in particular being that there are environments mobile devices are now being used in that come with their own risks. We’re talking about settings that can be remote, have harsh operating conditions, are security threats to sensitive information or present dangerous weather, among others things. These mobile computers could be with construction workers hanging steel beams, firefighters in remote mountains, miners miles underground or soldiers in a combat theatre. In these situations, the users need to know that these devices are rugged enough to handle extreme heat, cold, moisture and take a heavy pounding. Like the old Timex watch tagline says, these devices need to be able to “take a licking and keep on ticking.”
It should not come as a surprise that RFID is a growing customer requirement for these devices as it is for many other mobile computing solutions.
To support these requiremnts, last year, Trimble's Mobile Computing Solutions and ThingMagic divisions partnered to create an RFID Reader accessory for the Trimble Nomad handheld. The UHF RFID Reader accessory includes a mounting kit which allows users to add UHF RFID capability to their Trimble Nomad handheld computers – devices with the ruggedness and durability that have made it the handheld computer of choice for users with both physically and technically demanding tasks. Using the Trimble Nomad with an RFID scanner, building contractors for example, can perform a variety of functions such as asset check-in, check-out, transfers and inventory validation much faster than traditional bar code scanning. When integrated with the Trimble® AllTrak™ Asset and Tool Management System, contractors can more easily track and manage all of their jobsite assets and tools resulting in improved equipment monitoring and asset utilization.
One of our more recent opportunities in this space has been with two leading auto-ID companies, DAP Technologies and Omni-ID. DAP and Omni-ID partnered to launch a series of mobile tablets for harsh environments that incorporate both active and passive RFID capabilities – an industry first. As a result, a single device can track and manage assets, collect information, synchronize systems, report data and receive and respond to messages. These rugged tablets include ThingMagic’s high-performance UHF RFID reader module, the Micro, for reading tag information on critical assets and equipment and transmitting that information for management and inventory purpose. The size of the Micro makes it unobtrusive for embedding in mobile devices that still require high performance.
Another industry that’s jumped at the opportunity to apply these kinds of solutions is oil and gas production. Oil and gas companies are now investing in tools that enable them to achieve the vision of the “Digital Oilfield revolution.” Simply put, the Digital Oilfield is defined by a focus on how the petroleum business can deploy information technology to support its main business drivers, namely: maximizing and discovering oil reserves, optimizing hydrocarbon production, improving safety and protecting the environment. And of course much of this work takes place in hard-to-reach, harsh working environments.
Similar to opportunities for productivity enhancement in other industries, the key to almost all the activities associated with the Digital Oilfield is the real-time capture and analysis of data. The auto-ID functionality of today’s mobile computing devices, when coupled with their ruggedized form factor and intuitive interfaces, allows asset tracking and data collection to be a more simple and consistent process, almost becoming an afterthought when in the field. This means fewer manual processes and the opportunity to generate new data for business process improvement.
Opportunities for the wireless and contactless technology industries are growing as auto-ID, sensing, M2M and Internet of Things applications are being developed at a rapid pace. RFID is playing a particularly important role in this growth. RFID tag volumes are shipping in the billions and according to several research firms, the global market for RFID products and services is projected to approach $10 billion in the not so distant future.
There is enormous pressure for technology companies to innovate these days, as a newer and better solution is always right around the corner. This pressure exists in parallel with a need to continually drive down both the size and cost of hardware components, as these are two metrics that can make or break a product development project. Fortunately, this challenge we face also provides an enormous growth opportunity, as the importance of embedded technologies have become clearer than they’ve ever been.
In October of last year ThingMagic introduced the Micro as the best RFID module ever, showing what pushing the boundaries of size and power could mean for embedded RFID. Now, we’re a creating a family of the smallest high-performance RFID modules on the market with the introduction of a new Low Tag-read Enabled Micro. This newest addition to our Mercury6e Series of embedded UHF RFID modules, the Micro-LTE, is optimized to read small tag populations, opening doors for organizations that in the past may have faced size, performance, or cost barriers to RFID adoption.
As a leader in the space, it’s important we understand not only where RFID can be of value, but also what barriers to adoption exist that are keeping organizations from being able to tap into the efficiencies RFID can create. We built the Micro-LTE with different markets in mind, optimizing it for small tag population and making it ideal for mobile printers, handheld devices, RFID readers, portals, mobile device accessories and other emerging solutions. With embedded RFID readers like the Micro-LTE, device manufacturers and solution providers can now more easily develop and customize solutions by application, making it a valuable technology for a wide variety of industries.
We’ve already communicated our belief that the Micro is the best RFID module ever, but the addition of the Micro-LTE to the breadth of our UHF RFID module portfolio has created a family of embedded RFID modules that leaves no market, industry or application unattainable.
Simplified Printing and Encoding
Zebra Technologies recently announced the ZD500R UHF desktop printer that takes advantage of the small form factor and optimized read rate of the ThingMagic Micro-LTE RFID module. The ZD500R is ideal for space constrained retail and healthcare environments that require accurate, on-demand printing and encoding. The ZD500R is Zebra’s smallest and lowest cost UHF RFID printer to date.
Powerful Handheld Devices
ThingMagic RFID modules are a popular choice for handheld device manufacturers. For example, VerdaSee Solutions introduced a new mobile device for first responder and military applications. By utilizing all four antenna ports of the ThingMagic M6e RFID module, this portable and ruggedized handheld provides users with an extended read distance required by mission-critical applications.
Leveraging the small form factor and high-performance features of the ThingMagic Micro, ACURA Global offers the Smart AB-700 handheld reader for use in several commercial and industrial markets.
Innovation Across Industry
Other ThingMagic partners are embedding our RFID modules into products and solutions used in a variety of markets. For example, the AdvanPanel from Keonn Technologies integrates the ThingMagic Micro to read RFID-enabled Kanban cards in just-in-time inventory systems. Venture Research integrates ThingMagic modules into smart shelves, waste management solutions, fork lift readers, industrial portals and several other RFID-enabled systems. With similarly diverse customer bases, partners Beijing Silion in Asia and ACURA Global in South America use ThingMagic embedded RFID modules to develop retail, supply chain, logistics, transportation, and healthcare solutions.
Where do you see embedded RFID headed next? Are the form factors, price points, and applicaiton optimization of today's RFID modules making it easier to implement the technology?
Summer is in full swing and with it comes all of the warm weather activities. Naps in the hammock, lemonade by the pool and if you’re like us, getting caught up on our summer reading list.
While vacation it most certainly a time for leisure reading, it can also be a good time to catch up on tech trends and industry news. To help, we’ve gathered some of our most popular blog articles. Adding a little twist, we’ve also included some of the more interesting uses of RFID we’ve seen mentioned recently - reinforcing the fact that the possibilities with RFID are limitless!
The Next Generation of Construction
Published in Construction Executive’s June Issue, a contributed piece by ThingMagic’s Bernd Schoner discusses how RFID deployments are streamlining construction projects and helping to keep construction sites secure and safe.
RFID in Retail – No Stopping Now
If there is one industry where RFID has made a name for itself, it is retail. With big players like Macy’s and JC Penny implementing the technology in order to enhance the customer experience, and cut down on overhead costs, it is only a matter of time before other retailers follow suit (pun intended!).
Passive RFID solutions for healthcare
RFID technology has impacted and ultimately improved the healthcare industry in many ways over the last several years. In one specific case, a partnership between Xecan and ThingMagic has provided a communication and tracking system for hospitals. This RFID “smart clinic” tracks patient location and wait times, ultimately allowing the clinic to operate more efficiently and increase patient satisfaction.
The Future of RFID: Infographic
When we couldn’t seem to find an infographic that covered Auto-ID technologies or RFID in particular, we took matters into our own hands. This infographic depicts the collaborative relationships between 4G, Wi-Fi, GPS, RFID and sensors, and what it means for our future.
If you thought RFID was a technology looking for a home, think again. Seems you can't find a market or applicaiton it hasn't been used in. For example, check out these unique uses:
With NSA-like precision, FeederWatch researchers and students at Cornell University have gathered an "unprecedented" amount of data about the feeding behaviors of their favorite backyard birds in the Ithaca, New York, area. Read more about Project FeederWatch.
RFID for Counting Bees. Really? We published this post on our blog as part of our 100 Uses of RFID campaing a while back. With recent concerns about the bee population dying off and the frightening prophecy that mankind would have only four years to live if bees disappeared from the face of the earth, maybe this one isn't to crazy.
RFID Plays Matchmaker to Socks. This one dominated the headlines for weeks when it was announced. Rightly so, because, well, you can't go out with socks that don't match.
And finally, file this one under "just when you thought you've heard it all..." Nightclub urinal tells patrons when they've had one too many.
So, what are you waiting for? Let us know how you see RFID being used for well known or non-traditional applications. We'd love to hear from you!
We blogged not too long ago about the benefits of desktop USB RFID readers, a main theme being that they’re used in a wide variety of places because of their versatile form factor and a level of simplicity that allows for easy deployment. So in setting out to enhance our already popular offering in this space, we were presented with what seemed to be a unique challenge: What can you add to a simple and versatile product to make it simpler and more versatile?
Introducing the ThingMagic USB Plus+ RFID Reader (download datasheet)
What the USB Plus+ brings to the table is an improved antenna design with a read range 3 times the distance of its predecessor. Because it is now adjustable to a much longer read distance – up to 3 feet instead of 12 inches – it can open doors for new types of deployments; and it does so without sacrificing its unobtrusive nature. Furthermore, because the USB Plus+ offers the same form, fit and function (and price) as our previous USB reader, it can be added to existing systems and immediately improve their performance and add value.
Where this variability of read range becomes a significant differentiator is in deployments that require a certain degree of tag read sensitivity. For manufacturing work-in-process or warehouse inventory and distribution, having an extended read range could lessen the effort and time burden put on employees and operators keeping track of assets moving in and out of facilities. But the ability to adjust the read range of the USB Plus+ supports certain applications where the extended antenna could interfere with other critical operations. In healthcare, for example, deployments may require a shorter and stricter read distance to ensure the safety of patients and security of private information.
Beyond newfound flexibility in read range, the USB Plus+ Reader is able to better support high-memory tags like those used in the aerospace industry. The ability to read and write these tags greatly benefits manufacturers that need to tag and track assets that can be difficult to maneuver and where recording maintenance history is critical to ongoing operation and part servicing. On the opposite end of the spectrum, those who need to be able to read much smaller form factor RFID tags, such as jewelers, are also able to do so more effectively.
> Download our Application Note: Transitioning to the ThingMagic USB Plus+ Reader to learn how to make a seamless transition from one model to another.
The value behind desktop USB RFID readers isn’t changing with the introduction of ThingMagic’s USB Plus+ Reader – it’s still the cost-effective and simple option for those who want the efficiency and visibility that RFID can provide, without interrupting operations. Enhanced features, however, allow the USB Plus+ to both open doors for industries that have found barriers to RFID adoption and offer newer capabilities for those already deploying these types of readers.
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