RFID & GPS for Waste Management

Posted by Ken Lynch on Wed, Aug 22, 2012 @ 11:25 AM

Tags: Trimble, RFID, GPS, Waste Management

Locationing and Auto-Identification technologies are being used in a number of waste management activities - from using GPS for fleet management, to RFID-enabled recycling incentive programs, to contributing to several breakthroughs in smart packaging.

And, the innovation continues.  Just last week, Trimble Environmental Solutions announced cBin™, a new solution for managing remote recycling containers. According to the announcement, cBin allows hauling operations to save time and money by reducing fuel consumption, labor, and truck wear and tear incurred when they pick-up empty or partially full containers.

The cBin solution consists of a remote sensor that sends fill level and asset status information via wireless communications to a Web portal that can be accessed to manage container inventory and pickups. cBin sensors automatically measure container fill levels hourly and send updates to the cBin portal.

Trimble cBinPortal

The scBin Portal ummary screen provides an "at a glance" view of all containers in a community for rapid evaluation of container status.  Immediate updates are sent if fill levels exceed action levels.

While GPS technology has certainly been a difference-maker for fleet management, and now container monitoring, Challande – a Swiss waste management and material transportation company – chose to integrate RFID with GPS, setting them up for a greater return on their investment than if they just had GPS alone.

For 10 years, when Challande had a GPS system in place, they could see where their trucks were located and could then manually track down the various containers and waste bins they owned – a system that got the job done, but not one that was entirely efficient. Challande has hundreds of pieces of equipment they need to monitor. By attaching RFID tags to trailers, trucks, and cargo this year, they have been able to gain a more comprehensive view of the many moving parts of their company. The difference from using GPS alone?  Now the exact location and ID number of every bin and truck Challande owns is automatically aggregated and sent to their existing management software.

For Challande, the return on their investment is coming from all directions. Their risk of misplacing bins and other property is now practically non-existent. The time their employees used to spend tracking down bins is no longer an expense they have to account for. They don’t have to spend time or money implementing new management software, because they can integrate the new RFID tags with their existing system. Challande can even minimize delays in transportation and delivery by looking at an item’s distance from its destination and making adjustments on the fly.

Challande, and many others, are already watching their RFID systems pay for themselves.  And, as highlighted in our Infographic – The Future of RFID, the convergence of RFID with technologies like GPS is helping companies better manage their assets and the myriad of moving pieces they are responsible for.

Over the next decade, the convergence of wireless technologies will be augmented by RFID systems and the integration of passive RFID as part of this platform will be driven by the potential to measure, report and monetize a growing number of transactions in the physical world.  In certain applications, it is hard to imagine a future where everyday physical objects won’t have "built-in" RFID.

The Future of RFID - Infographic

Posted by Ken Lynch on Mon, Jul 23, 2012 @ 02:13 PM

Tags: RFID, Internet of Things, GPS, Big Data

Infographics are cool.  They've been developed to visually represent data about a great many industries, places, and people.  Everything from Understanding Carbon Offsets to 7 Things You Didn't Know About the Golden Gate Bridge to The History Of Steve Jobs & Apple have been depicted in Infographic form.  Yes, there is even an Infographic of Infographics!

I've found a couple of Infographics that touch on The Internet of Things and the global supply chain like IBM's Stories of a Smarter Planet, but I was a bit surprised to find that there aren't many that cover Auto-ID technologies or RFID in particular.  So, here's our pass at creating a visual representation of The Future of RFID.  Take a ride along the path of Adoption, Convergence, the Internet of Things, and Big Data - ending in a place where RFID systems will become an integral part of the consumer and business experience!

Download a PDF of The Future of RFID Infographic and don't forget to let us know how we can help you with your RFID project!

The Future of RFID - Infographic

Embed the image above on your site:

<a href="http://rfid.thingmagic.com/rfid-infographic"><img src="http://rfid.thingmagic.com/Portals/42741/images/ThingMagic-Infographic_FINAL_July201.jpg" alt="The Future of RFID" width="540" border="0" /></a><br />Presented By: <a href="http://www.thingmagic.com/">ThingMagic</a>


100 Uses of RFID

View more than 100 other innovative ways in which Radio Frequency Identification and Sensing (RFIDS) is being used to automate data collection, identification, and location systems worldwide - 100 Uses of RFID

Google Glass: A Glimpse Into The Internet of Things?

Posted by Ken Lynch on Wed, Apr 11, 2012 @ 04:37 PM

Tags: RFID, Internet of Things, Google, GPS

Google GlassI first saw TV ads for Google Glass while in Orlando for RIFD Journal LIVE! (more about the conference in a future post).  About what you'd exepct from Google - an imaginative glimpse into the future of computing and human interaction.

I have to admit I didn't make the immediate connection between Google's view of the future and the Internet of Things.  But Mark Beccue of ABI Research did, and it is an intersting read - see the full copy of Mark's piece here and let us (and Mark) know what you think.

Google Glass: A Glimpse Into The Internet of Things?

Posted Tue, 10 Apr 2012 11:10:00 EDT by Mark Beccue

Last week, Google announced Project Glass, an ambitious project to feed on-demand, real time data onto eyeglasses http://bit.ly/HeSg62. The project has produced skepticism and mocking, both of which I think are unjustified. Google is merely nudging us along to an eventuality - the click less, swipe less web interface and the internet of things.

Last year, I wrote a report on mobile augmented reality http://bit.ly/hycWOK in which we found that many enterprising companies are seeking to expand the internet to become even more useful than it is today. Visionaries at companies like Google, Intel, Metaio, and DoCoMo http://bit.ly/AyGQuz believe there will be a day when we can attach data, graphics, audio or video to objects such as buildings, vehicles, machinery or a location. This data could then be accessed using augmented reality technology - either through a smartphone app through which you would see or hear the data as you looked at the object, or eventually through glasses.

While today we are seeing the emergence of smartphone apps and AR, there are lots of challenges before any of this happens for eyewear. Applications would require filters because of information overload - our brains can't handle too much data at one time. One solution in that respect could be you as a consumer choose the apps you would like to run through your eyewear, just as smartphone users choose apps and run them today on their phones. Industrial and military uses of augmented reality eyewear produce significant eye fatigue. And how would eyewear and smartphones peacefully coexist over time? And then there are issues around attaching data to things -- indoor AR today is limited because of GPS, and image recognition requires huge, cross-referenced databases.

But it is easy to see why Google is so interested. Search expands when internet expands, and where search goes, so goeth Google.

I believe Google will showcase Google Glass to promote the technology and look to eyewear and smartphone makers to make eyewear eventually. They will potentially make eyewear (with a partner), but as with Google phone and new Google branded tablet, Google knows the key is to make click less touch less web interface and the internet of things universal.

--end ABI article

What if RFID was Never Invented? A ThingMagic Top Ten

Posted by Ken Lynch on Mon, Jan 09, 2012 @ 11:39 AM

Tags: RFID, GPS, Embedded RFID, NFC

Top 10You know you are in the height of the political season when you turn on the Late Show with David Letterman and see all of the candidates lining up to give their top 10 lists.  While these attempts to connect with the American people normally fall flat, it did get us thinking about our own Letterman style top ten and what fun and interesting uses of the technology we’d present if given the opportunity to visit the show.

So without further delay, we present to you our Top Ten things to consider if RFID had never been invented:

10. The lines would be a lot longer during our coffee runs: Cup o’ Joe to Go

9.  All of the crazy story lines in crime dramas might actually happen: RFID and The CSI Effect

8.  We couldn’t install “LoJack” in our cactuses: Cactus Chips

7.  We’d all be subject to search and seizure at border crossings: RFID for Border Security

6.  It would mean counting bees the old fashioned way: RFID for Counting Bees. Really?

5.  Fox could theoretically run ‘Prison Break’ forever: RFID Put Behind Bars

4.  The “Where’s Waldo” effect would run rampant in salvage yards: The New Junkyard Dog

3.  There would be a lot more false pulls in the milking business: Milkin’ It with RFID

2.  Really bad golf would still be in play this season: Find It, Play It – With RFID

And the number one consideration if RFID had never been invented is…

1. Unauthorized use of electroshock weapons would surely climb: Don’t Lose Your Taser Bro

Maybe we’ll never get the chance to join Dave on the show, but hopefully we’ve given you a few interesting thoughts about the impact RFID continues to have on all walks of life.

For more, check out our ever popular list of 100 Uses of RFID!

Image source: Transition Culture

ThingMagic Named Frost & Sullivan ‘Mover & Shaker’

Posted by Ken Lynch on Mon, Oct 17, 2011 @ 11:27 AM

Tags: RFID, Smart Displays, GPS, Social Networks

Frost & SullivanAnalyst firm Frost & Sullivan recently featured ThingMagic and General Manager, Tom Grant as one of its much acclaimed Movers & Shakers. In their Movers and Shakers interviews, Frost & Sullivan places the spotlight on dynamic companies and leaders recognized for achieving milestones such as launching a breakthrough technology or implementing a revolutionary vision for the future of their industries. Needless to say we are very appreciative of being asked to participate.

Frost & Sullivan’s interview with ThingMagic explores interest in our business since being acquired by Trimble.  As a division of Trimble, we are now in a better position to deliver UHF RFID products and solutions to the marketplace. As Grant said in the interview, “We have not changed post the acquisition, we have just become stronger.”

In describing what innovation means to ThingMagic, Grant explains that the most innovative solutions are those where users can interact with RFID naturally and where the technology is so integrated and transparent that it disappears.  We’ve seen this in a growing number of deployments including those by Ford Motor Company and The Disney Family Cancer Center.  We’re also seeing this begin to take hold in solutions like presence-based smart displays and kiosks where RFID is helping to create a seamless and pervasive interaction between people, the environment, and information. This innovation in content delivery and management systems is also intersecting with social networks, which makes it attractive to new markets and an expansive base of new users.

The interview also highlights ThingMagic’s vision of how RFID solutions and innovation will drive the next revolution of wireless and mobility.  We believe that the next wave of innovation and success will come from combining technologies such as active and passive RFID, GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.  The success metric will be when the best of these technologies are combined in a hybrid product or solution that is less defined by the technology and more about what the users can accomplish with it. 

As a market, we’ve reached several important milestones.  It’s time to set our sights on the next one. We need to start thinking beyond the enabling technology and focus on the value of the data generated by RFID reads and how it can be applied to business processes.  “it is time we reshape the way we think about RFID”, says Grant.

What do you envision the next RFID milestone to look like?

Angry Birds (and RFID) Coming Soon - Everywhere

Posted by Ken Lynch on Tue, Jun 14, 2011 @ 01:42 PM

Tags: RFID, Internet of Things, GPS, NFC

Angry Birds MagicReally?  Did I just read that the maker of one of my favorite mobile games, Angry Birds, is going to be connecting the virtual world of slingshot flung bids and grunting pig heads with the physical world by using near field communications (NFC) and GPS?

Yup – as reported by ReadWiteWeb, Rovio (the Angry Birds game maker) will be making this announcement at the ReadWriteWeb 2WAY Summit taking place this week in New York City.

According to the article, game players with NFC-enabled phones will be able to unlock new levels and special birds by taping their mobile devices together or on NFC-enabled tags placed on merchandise like toys, books, or presumably just about anything. Taking the virtual-physical world connection a step further, when played in certain locations – that “make sense for the birds and the brand” - you will be able to access new location-specific features. Rivio also plans to offer a GPS-enabled version for those without NFC-enabled phones. 

This isn’t quite where I thought RFID and GPS would converge to reach thousands if not millions of consumers, but I guess you’ve got to start somewhere!

You’ve got to like the name too.  Known as Angry Birds Magic, the branding for Rivio's internet of things platform follows our affinity for adding magic to everyday things.

Angry Birds fan or not, share your thoughts on the convergence of auto-id technologies and the virtural world.  Where do we go from here?!

Man-Down Monitoring

Posted by Ken Lynch on Wed, Nov 03, 2010 @ 11:19 AM

Tags: Worker Safety, RFID, GPS, Disaster Management

RFID Provides a Safety Net for Workers in Hazardous Conditions

Utility WorkerFrom remote construction sites to prisons, oil rigs, war zones and hospital psychiatric wards, those working in dangerous environments often rely on innovative technology and extraordinary processes to ensure their safety.  In some cases, providing worker safety may require the use of a dedicated system to detect “non-movement” as an indicator that a worker may be incapacitated due to a fall or other life threatening situation.

Man-Down and Lone Worker monitoring systems often contain a combination of locating and sensing technologies to sense non-movement and the position of an individual (standing or prone), and wirelessly broadcast an alarm or alert to a monitoring station if their status indicates a potentially dangerous condition.  Most monitoring devices also include a panic button and some even incorporate GPS tracking and voice recording, allowing for a wider variety of conditional data.

One such monitoring solution is offered by Axcess International Inc. and is being deployed on an oil-drilling platform in Malaysia to track when workers become inactive, indicating a possible injury.  As explored in an RFID Journal article, Axcess International is positioning their Man-Down Monitoring and Locating solution to oil companies, the mining industry and other markets where hazardous work conditions exist.

The Axcess solution includes 315 MHz or 433 MHz battery powered RFID tags that are activated by strategically placed exciters (readers).  Back end system software translates the tag data – including worker ID numbers and motion sensor information – and provides real-time actionable records to help determine whether a worker’s status requires an immediate response.

In addition to providing a safety net for workers in dangerous environments, applications like this can be expanded on and integrated into a wide variety of safety and productivity enhancing solutions for disaster management, border and port security, hazardous waste chain of custody and others. 

If I was working day in and day out in dangerous and sometime life threatening situations, I’d want to work with a net – an RFID safety net.  How about you?

[Image: By Dori [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-us], from Wikimedia Commons]

ThingMagic, a Division of Trimble!

Posted by Ken Lynch on Mon, Oct 25, 2010 @ 06:29 PM

Tags: RFID, GPS, Trimble Navigation

ThingMagic Continues Lead Position as Developer of RFID Technology from Within Trimble Navigation

ThingMagic, a division of TrimbleThingMagic is pleased to share some exciting news about our company.  It was announced today that ThingMagic has become a division of Trimble!  For more information on this announcement and Trimble, check out the press release or Trimble’s product and solution offerings for the Engineering & Construction, Agriculture Solutions, Field and Mobile Worker, and Advanced Devices markets.

This is a very exciting opportunity for ThingMagic, its customers and the RFID market as a whole.  ThingMagic and our staff will remain located in Cambridge, MA and will continue to offer high-performance finished and embedded RFID readers and services to customers in a wide range of industry verticals from construction to health care.

And now with Trimble’s support, ThingMagic will be able to accelerate development of the world’s best RFID reader technology and is positioned to continue to grow its business to meet growing market demand.

From today’s announcement and to help frame Trimble’s perspective Jürgen Kliem, vice president of Trimble’s strategy and business development has provided his view of the opportunity:

Similar to the widespread integration of GPS into today’s positioning solutions, we believe RFID can transform markets and is a natural complement to our existing technology portfolio.”

We at ThingMagic are very excited to join the Trimble family!  Let us know what you think.

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