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Adding RFID to Rugged Handhelds and Tablets

Posted by Ken Lynch on Tue, Oct 15, 2013 @ 11:03 AM
  
  
  
  
  

PipelineHow 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.

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Adding a New Dimension to the ThingMagic RFID Module Family

Posted by Ken Lynch on Wed, Aug 14, 2013 @ 10:43 AM
  
  
  
  
  

Micro-LTEOpportunities 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?

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Hot Fun in the Summertime (RFID Tech Trends)

Posted by Ken Lynch on Thu, Aug 08, 2013 @ 09:18 AM
  
  
  
  
  

HammockSummer 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!

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The ThingMagic USB Plus+ RFID Reader – A New Level of Versatility

Posted by Ken Lynch on Mon, Jul 22, 2013 @ 09:07 AM
  
  
  
  
  

USB PlusWe 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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Pimp My Food Truck: RFID-Enabling the 21st Century Chuckwagon

Posted by Ken Lynch on Fri, Jun 28, 2013 @ 01:51 PM
  
  
  
  
  

foodtruckIf you work or live in an urban area, you’ve most likely seen the trendy food trucks parked at busy intersections, parks and plazas, serving up cupcakes, lobster rolls and everything in between. (For those who’ve never partaken, here’s a sneak peek video into how they operate)

Mobile munching, though almost unrecognizable from the days of “chuckwagons,” has come back in full force for foodies all across America who enjoy the convenience of curb-side cuisine.   In fact, 91% of those familiar with mobile food trucks say that the trend is here to stay (see Infographic).  We see this every day outside our office in Kendall Square, with several food trucks setting up shop.  And just a couple of weeks ago Kendall Square hosted the Food Truck Festival of New England.   The trend has gotten so hot that Kickstarter – the social funding service – has gotten behind it.   Mei Mei, a Boston-based food truck business recently raised $35,000 on the e-fundraising site to finance turning their business into a brick and mortar restaurant.

Annual revenue from food trucks was $1.2 billion dollars in 2009 and there has been significant growth since, most of which could be attributed to customer loyalty. Locals are often lured in to trying food trucks for a few simple reasons 1) convenience 2) community 3) cuisine and 4) competition. Could food truck operators increase customer loyalty by implementing RFID?

1) Convenience: Part of the appeal in mobile dining is the convenience that it offers. Whether it’s across from the office or parked near a popular tourist attraction, a food truck provides a quick and easy meal on the go. In addition to geographic convenience, food trucks also offer a financial convenience with mobile payment options. While it may not be main stream yet, types of RFID technologies can allow for easy, on-the-go payment for patrons who may not have cash handy. Mobile-payment is not only convenient for the consumer, but also allows the business owner to track spending trends and implement a rewards program for their most loyal customers. As “the internet of things” continues to grow and expand, especially into the retail environment, the food truck industry is no exception. The Point-of-sale iPads that have been installed in trucks are streamlining payment, consolidating physical equipment and supporting franchises that also operate out of brick and mortar shops.

2) Community:  One unique aspect about food trucks is the sense of community they create. Aside from the physical communities that support these small business owners, the virtual communities online provide valuable promotion as well. Food truck owners rely heavily on word of mouth to grow their business. Similar to Cadbury and dwinQ’s social media deployment at the Olympics, RFID technology could also allow patrons to check-in to the specific food truck and notify friends and social media followers of their location, ultimately acting as a virtual word of mouth.   

3) Cuisine: It wouldn’t be a food truck without the food! The culinary treats that come from these mobile kitchens are just as delicious as their brick and mortar counterparts.  But one difference is they require a different kind of logistical planning. Fresh ingredients, prepared daily are a key part in the operational aspect of a food truck. Much of their product has to be prepared in advance in a physical location and then loaded into the truck every day.  With space at such a premium, ensuring that the truck is equipped with just the right inventory to last the day is crucial in ensuring profits in a business with notoriously arbitrary and often razor thin margins.  Managing inventory closely is another opportunity where RFID technology can make a big impact in food quality and customer satisfaction.   

4) Competition: The restaurant business is tough and highly competitive, and it’s no different with food trucks.   The cooking reality TV competitions and many cook-off competitions that happen around the country draw in hundreds of thousands of viewers and patrons respectively.  It’s the same in the food truck business. Every spring, Boston’s annual Food Truck Throwdown brings various vendors together to compete for coveted crowning as the best. Not a Beantown local? According to The Daily Meal, these trucks beat out thousands of others to be crowned the Top Ten Food Trucks in America

Ultimately, food trucks have changed the l landscape of dining options all over the country and continue to draw crowds. While the technology that drives the businesses may be “behind the scenes,” it surely plays a role in what makes them a success. From social media to location services, there are opportunities for food trucks to tap into RFID as a resource to grow and sustain their business.

The question is, who is going to be the first to pimp their food truck with these high-tech solutions?

 

Photo credit: David Stewart/Boston.com

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RFID Scoring Big in the Sports World

Posted by Ken Lynch on Mon, Jun 10, 2013 @ 11:03 AM
  
  
  
  
  

SportsIt’s that time of year again, when stadiums are filled with baseball fans, greens are manicured for golfers and trails are rampant with runners training for the next race. All of these activities bring with them a wide range of opportunities to leverage the power of RFID. From enhancing the fan experience to precisely measuring race times, RFID is making a case for itself as an essential element to sports activities, teams and events.

One area in which RFID has been making a big impact is in event ticketing. Dating back several years to the 2005 Tennis Master’s World Cup in Shanghai, China, RFID inlays were embedded into all 100,000 tickets for the event and were scanned using stationary readers at the gates to grant spectators entrance to the venue. Prior to this system, spectators were required to purchase a pre-event ticket, and exchange it on game day for the physical ticket at the box office. This new system ensured that those granted access were genuine ticket holders, and streamlines the entry process. The following year, the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany became the largest use of RFID in sports ticketing to date with twelve venues, sixty-four games and 3.5 million tickets. One of the main reasons that FIFA, and several other organizations choose to employ RFID technology in ticketing, was to enhance security and prevent counterfeiting.  This use of RFID continues today with many event organizers investing in automated RFID-enabled systems to replace legacy manual and error prone processes.

RFID technology has also shown its ability to enhance other aspects of a fan’s experience, aside from security. Across the pond in the UK, the Scotcomms Technology Group is working with several leading football clubs and their season ticket holders. Scotcomms’ contactless ticketing solution, TeamCard, benefits both the ticket holders and teams themselves by deriving incremental revenue from unused tickets. When a season ticket holder notifies the box office that they will not be attending a game, £10 are loaded onto the fan’s TeamCard to be redeemed for team merchandise or refreshments at the next game they attend. In turn, the team can then sell the unused ticket for an average profit of £15. Additionally, fans can participate in sports betting at the stadiums by using their TeamCard to place wagers against friends or other fans.

RFID technology is also found in many state-side sports. As many golfers have experienced, one can spend hours combing through thorns and thistles to try and locate a lost ball. However thanks to RFID technology, the hunt may be over. Radar Golf has developed an RFID equipped golf ball that can be located with an RFID reader using the company’s Ball Positioning System (BPS). Similar to a metal detector, the handheld BPS will beep at an increasing rate as the user gets closer and closer to the ball being read.

While the technology may be newer to the golf game, road racers, cyclists, triathletes and skiers are already very familiar with RFID applications. RFID has had a presence in the racing world for many years and has undeniably enhanced the visibility aspect of the sport. ChampionChip pioneered the use of this technology in the 1994 Berlin Marathon and athletes have been running with it ever since. With marathon season in full swing, many race participants find this technology to be a crucial part of the sport and an efficient tool for recording real-time data Tracking devices are attached to race participants while passive-RFID technology records racer’s real net times as they pass antennas throughout the course, as well as at the start and finish lines. This technology also allows for friends, family, and fans who are watching the races to locate their participants and position themselves along the course to cheer them on at different locations and present personalized messages of encouragement. Many runners find this technology to be a very efficient tool for recording real-time data and measuring their performance.

Whether it is streamlined security, increased profits or saved time on the golf course, RFID technology has found place in the sports community, and as the technology advances, we expect RFID will continue to enhance the overall experience of sports fans world-wide.

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At RFID Journal LIVE!, Embedded RFID Takes Center Stage

Posted by Ken Lynch on Fri, May 10, 2013 @ 03:10 PM
  
  
  
  
  

RFID Journal LIVE13In its 11th year, RFID Journal LIVE! is the world’s largest event focused on RFID technology, products and solutions.  This year’s event – held April 30 – May 2 - offered a great number of sessions across industries, including Defense/Aviation, Manufacturing, Retail/Apparel, Healthcare/Pharmaceutical, and Supply Chain/Logistics.  Many end users presented success stories, and educational tracks on RFID deployment strategies, application development and enterprise infrastructure offered sound strategic advice for those evaluating the technology.

The event promoters indicated a record number of new products were being exhibited at RFID Journal LIVE! this year, and based on what we experienced, this appears to be the case. For ThingMagic, the focus of the conference was on communicating the value of embedded RFID and sharing our newest high-performance embedded RFID reader, the Micro.

For customers and prospects, the value proposition of the Micro rang true:  The exceptionally small size and powerful performance of the Micro yields increased efficiency, reduced development costs and time-to-market advantages for RFID applications.  In case you didn’t have the chance to visit our booth, below are some of the materials we presented at the show:

> Embedded RFID brochure

> Micro webinar (produced with RFID Journal)

> Watch an RFID Journal LIVE! 2013 ThingMagic Booth Interview (produced by our partner Atlas RFID!)

 

 

While the Micro and other small form factor, high performance RFID modules from ThingMagic are set to usher in a new era of embedded RFID for device manufacturers and solutions providers, it’s our customers’ products that end user organizations rave about.  Here are a few that were demonstrated at RFID Journal LIVE! 2013 we thought were worth noting –

Zebra Technologies

Long a provider of innovative marking and printing technologies, Zebra used this year’s conference to introduce their new UHF desktop printer, ZD500R. Developed for retail, healthcare, and government deployments, the printer has an embedded ThingMagic Micro module, as it is designed for space-constrained environments that require accurate, on-demand printing and encoding. Available later this year, it will be Zebra’s smallest and lowest cost UHF RFID printer to-date.

VerdaSee

VerdaSee’s big news of the conference was the announcement of their new mobile 1-Watt UHF Gen2 RFID reader. The company offers fixed and mobile solutions that enable recognition and tracking of assets in a variety of environments.  This latest development was financed in large part by the Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center unit of the United States’ Department of Defense, as VerdaSee’s solutions are often used as a GPS solution for first responders and military logistics. As these deployments commonly require that readers be both portable and ruggedized, the ThingMagic M6e module was chosen for use in these units because of its small form factor and the versatility its multi-port capability offers.

Keonn Technologies

Winners of the Coolest Demo Contest last year at RFID Journal Live 2012 for their RFID-enabled AdvanFitting fitting rooms for retail stores, Keonn was back again this year with more to show. Keonn embeds ThingMagic modules in several of their solutions for retail, healthcare, libraries, and enterprise logistics sectors. The Keonn AdvanPanel, for instance, has the ThingMagic Micro embedded to read tags in Kanban cards, allowing Just-in-Time inventory systems to function properly. Retailers that want inventory information in real-time and a reduction in out-of-stocks use Keonn’s solution to process this information, and the Micro allows them to maintain a high level of performance while still keeping costs down.

ACURA Global

Headquartered in Brazil, ACURA Global's RFID systems are used in many applications in the commercial, utility and industrial sectors. In addition to being a valued ThingMagic reseller, ACURA integrates ThingMagic RFID modules into finished reader form factors.  For example, the ACURA EDGE-50 is based on the ThingMagic M6e module, supports up to 4 monostatic antennas, and is ideal for vehicle identification, logistics and transportation applications.

Venture Research

In the logistics, supply chain and healthcare space, Venture Research offers RFID solutions to companies that can leverage added visibility as a competitive advantage. Because their deployments can vary greatly, Venture has found value across multiple ThingMagic embedded RFID development platforms.

Award-Winning Partners

An exciting part of each year’s RFID Journal Live event is seeing which products and deployments have pushed the envelope far enough to be considered for top honors at the industry’s leading event. We were fortunate to have partnered with two award winners this year:

Keonn for the second year in a row came away the winner of the Coolest Demo Contest for its RFID-enabled robot, AdvanRobot, which performs automatic inventory in spaces like retail stores. The battery-operated robot is comprised of an RFID subsystem, a mobile platform and a navigation system that allows it to move about and read RFID tags and take inventory without colliding or interfering with humans. AdvanRobot can not only provide highly-accurate inventory information, but can also give tag location of inventory items more frequently and with fewer errors and costs than humans, freeing them to focus on customer service and other more valuable activities.

The City of Grand Rapids, Michigan took home the RFID Green Award for their RFID-enabled recycling and refuse-collection system. The deployment optimizes recycling truck pickup routes and scheduling by collecting and analyzing data from tagged disposal bins. The system even incentivizes residents with programs that reward the most frequent recyclers with offers from area merchants. With residents recycling instead of putting everything in the trash, the city was able to lower refuse by 15%, increase recycling by more than 50%, and save $75,000 in the system’s first seven months – not to mention the intangible benefit of using RFID to rally a community around sustainability.

Congratulations to RFID Journal for producing another valuable RIFD Journal LIVE! 

For more information on the advantages of ThingMagic embedded RFID, please email sales@thingmagic.com.

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Desktop USB RFID Readers – Simple yet Versatile

Posted by Ken Lynch on Wed, Apr 24, 2013 @ 12:33 PM
  
  
  
  
  

ThingMagic USB ReaderThe value of small form factor RFID readers is not difficult to understand – it is a combination of simplicity, utility and low cost that makes them a popular choice among application developers. Any industry can benefit from being more efficient, yet many are apprehensive to put resources or systems (RFID being an example) in place to make it happen, because of any number of barriers to entry – “it’ll cost too much,” “it’ll be too invasive,” “it’ll be difficult to integrate with our current operations.

ThingMagic’s USB RFID Reader is one answer to these concerns, particularly for users developing and deploying interactive read/write applications. Its small form factor allows users to deploy without affecting existing infrastructure. The reader’s ability to be controlled and powered by a PC means plugging into a USB port is typically all that’s necessary to integrate with existing hardware systems. And, its low cost makes it an easier investment decision. The variety of industries that the ThingMagic USB RFID Reader has made its way into shows this versatility.

Aerospace

Writing information to an RFID tag is easy enough when it involves something as simple as scanning workers’ ID badges into a system, but this becomes significantly more difficult when the tag you need to scan is attached to an enormous airplane part you can’t necessarily just drag over to any old reader. Companies like Honeywell Aerospace have begun applying high-memory RFID tags to various parts they manufacture so that they can be tracked from birth through their eventual use by airlines, and repair if necessary. To write and read information on these tags, which often reside on difficult to reach parts, Honeywell uses simple and portable USB RFID readers provided by ThingMagic that can be easily plugged into a laptop. Using a USB RFID reader to write and read these high-memory tags allows aerospace companies to easily attach information part descriptions, manufacture dates, part numbers, and serial numbers to the equipment being moved around a plant and even to other countries.

Healthcare

Healthcare environments – hospitals, clinics, etc. – depend on accuracy perhaps more than any other industry, as errors could potentially affect not only just business, but individuals’ health and well-being. A recent deployment by XECAN (watch video), a leading provider of smart RFID systems for healthcare, fixes ThingMagic USB readers to the desktop PCs in hospital exam rooms. Doctors can then scan their badge upon greeting a patient and have immediate access to that patient’s profile in the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system.

The time saved by not having to repeatedly enter login credentials for different software applications allows doctors more time to see patients and focus on care, letting the technology handle logistics. The entire process becomes more efficient and accurate, reducing potential errors and, in turn, lowering costs for patients, healthcare providers and insurers. And it involves little more effort from employees than simply touching their IDs to a desktop USB RFID reader.  Download XECAN Case Study

Sports

These types of readers are just as often applied in fast-paced, often outdoor environments as part of athletic deployments, and can be used to easily replace the guesswork involved in athletic competition with structure and automation for accuracy.

When you consider the logistics of racing sports, for instance, it’s obviously important to have accurate time recording measures in place for properly determining winners and statistics. What’s often neglected, however, (and which we’ve blogged in the past) is the need to monitor for fair play – a lesson Rosie Ruiz taught us all the hard way in 1980 when she became the “fastest” female runner in the history of the Boston Marathon (until investigators discovered she’d skipped most of the race).

To protect the integrity of racing sports, companies like RFID Timing deploy RFID systems to keep track of athlete information and monitor their progress at different checkpoints throughout a race. In these types of deployments, a USB reader could be used to encode and check UHF tags before they’re placed on a racer’s number prior to an event. The readers are also used to scan athletes’ tags in various locations, for instance at the point where a runner would pick up his or her race pack. Automating a process like this ensures an athlete’s details are correct in a timing system’s database.

RFID-Powered Kiosks

Though you’ll typically see these types of readers on a desk plugged into a PC or laptop, use cases have evolved in parallel with the explosion of social media to popularize RFID-powered social media kiosks at event functions. Showing the more casual and entertaining side of RFID, providers like ODIN (watch video) put together interactive kiosks that allow people to more easily engage with others and share enjoyable moments from the events they attend. Users who touch their conference ID badge to an RFID-powered kiosk and choose to attach it to their social media accounts can then easily share updates, check-ins, and photos from the variety of sessions, booths, or events they visit.

A cool use case we’ve blogged in the past was for the Olympics this past summer when candy company Cadbury partnered with the social media tech company dwinQ to set up a large, purple, inflatable booth – the Cadbury House – that was RFID-enabled. Prior to entering the Cadbury House, visitors could tap their event badges to a ThingMagic USB RFID reader and then choose to link the badge to their Facebook account. From that point on, other readers throughout the attraction would automatically pick up visitors’ badges and give them different options for sharing content, such as a photo opportunity with an added backdrop of participants receiving Olympic medals in front of a large crowd. They reported that an impressive 75% of attendees opted to link their Facebook pages, checking in 5824 times and sharing 8958 photos.  Download ODIN Case Study

The value of this type of reader, regardless of whether it’s found on a racetrack or in a hospital exam room, is that it can be easily deployed to provide immediate results. These types of readers are designed to plug simply into existing infrastructure so as to offer a quick solution that doesn’t disrupt ongoing operations already in place. The variety of applications – creative and entertaining like Cadbury to complex like aerospace parts tracking – shows its versatility. Because there are so few strings attached, virtually any industry could see improvements in performance, efficiency, or accuracy with desktop USB RFID readers.

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RFID in Healthcare is The Big Easy!

Posted by Ken Lynch on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 @ 01:05 PM
  
  
  
  
  

HIMSSThe Intelligent Hospital Pavilion at HIMSS in New Orleans earlier this month made it EASY to see the BIG value of RFID for improving the quality of patient care. Scenarios from the Pharmacy, OR, ICU and ED demonstrated how information is coordinated from diverse patient care environments with Near Field Communications (NFC), RFID, RTLS (real time locating systems), sensors and wireless technologies.

RFID has proven its worth in healthcare and continues to improve procedures and enhance workflows across a variety of areas, including:

Medication Management – ensures the right medication is delivered at the right time in the right dose by the right staff via the right means, as well as optimizes inventory of medication in the pharmacy.

Equipment Tracking – identifies the location and travel patterns of many types of valuable assets in real-time, resulting in reduced product loss, reduced capital equipment purchases & leases, improved maintenance levels, and enhanced patient services.

Patient/Staff Workflow – tracks the travel patterns of staff, patients and personnel in real-time for access control, improved patient & staff workflows, reduced wait times, and integration into anti-abduction, wander prevention, and hand hygiene solutions.

Departmental Loss Prevention – proven to deliver an ROI in a short period of time by saving high value assets from being mistakenly discarded.

Several of our blog posts cover the well-established use cases mentioned above. Check them out here: RFID in healthcare.

More recently, we’ve seen how this intelligent tracking can work regarding medical equipment.  For example, scientists at GE Global Research recently won a $2.5 million contract with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to develop an RFID system for their hospitals that will automate the transporting, cleaning, and storing of surgical tools.

GE’s system, which uses ThingMagic readers for its prototype designs, is the newest in a collection of smart RFID technology we’re seeing emerge in the healthcare space.

 

 

By leaving room for error in the management of surgical tools, hospitals can not only open their patients to the risks of infection, but may also slow surgery setup and turnaround times and inaccurately report their inventory. The system GE is looking to implement would use robotics to automate the transportation, cleaning, and sterilization processes but RFID would function as the brains of the operation to ensure the right tools are sterile and in the appropriate operating rooms at the right time. Together, the RFID and robotics elements would automate the collection of dirty tools from an operating room, delivery to a sterile processing center, sorting, cleaning, and sanitation post-surgery. For the next operation, tools would be automatically built into kits, sterilized, and stored until the next doctor needs them delivered to a different operating room.

The Department of Veteran Affairs, known to be early adopters of innovative IT solutions in healthcare, didn’t stop there. They also recently awarded a $543 million contract to HP Enterprise Services to put a Real Time Location System (RTLS) in place for the millions of assets at their 152 VA medical centers. An important part of this system will be the platform provided by Intelligent InSites - a ThingMagic partner - which will be applied to a number of RFID-enabled use cases, including everything from monitoring hand hygiene and tool sterilization to managing emergency department and operating room workflows. The deployment will offer the VA an unprecedented level of visibility and analytical intelligence, not only improving hospital efficiency and compliance, but also strengthening patient care and satisfaction.

Though RFID appears in different capacities throughout hospital systems – be it in dispensing medication, queuing patients, delivering surgical tools, or managing medical records – the goal behind deploying these systems remains the same: improved patient care.

 

Contributors: Debbie Power, ThingMagic

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NOX Tracks Visitors at India's Largest National Executive Meeting

Posted by Ken Lynch on Tue, Mar 05, 2013 @ 02:39 PM
  
  
  
  
  
Contributed by our friends at Simply RFiD:
 
BJPKaryakarini 060Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) is India's second largest political party in terms of representation in India's parliament. It is also the main national opposition party and currently governs nine states in India. In May 23-25, 2012, the BJP held its National Executive meeting in Mumbai. During the three-day meeting, the party gathers and frames their strategy towards the country's economic and political issues.

Challenge: Hundreds of people attend the conference including top political leaders, ministers, delegates, and reporters. In order to attend the conference, every individual must be registered and only those authorized can enter press rooms. Before using RFID, security guards at the different press rooms checked each person's ID badge and verified if they were allowed to enter the room. Not only was this a time consuming process for security officials and reporters, but inefficient.

Solution: Gyaantech, SimplyRFiD's exclusive partner and solution provider in India, helped the BJP organize the 2012 National Executive Meeting by installing the Nox Asset Tracking and Surveillance system. Nox-2 RFID paper tags were attached to each visitor's badge. Each tag included visitor's name, description, and RFID number. ThingMagic RFID readers and antennas were installed at doorways. Every time a visitor walked into a press room, the RFID reader read the tag and instantly updated the database. Security officials immediately knew how many people were in each room and if those attending the press conferences were authorized visitors. To ensure that no media equipment left the facility, items were tagged with RFID and Axis cameras were installed at the main entrance to record video if RFID tagged items were taken out.

SimplyRFiD's Nox Asset tracking System helped the BJP keep count of the number of people attending the conference and verify that only authorized visitors attended this important political meeting.

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