RFID Hits Center Stage

Posted by Ken Lynch on Fri, Oct 22, 2010 @ 03:44 PM

Tags: RFID, Sports & Entertainment, RTLS

Following Opera Singers to Capture the Experience for the Audience

I grew up with the music of Pavarotti, Verdi and Rossini coming from the living room, usually on Sundays. And a little Johnny Mathis and Frank Sinatra mixed in. By no means am I an expert, but I must admit, I thought the quality of the performances solely depended on the talent of the singers and the acoustics. But even with the most advanced architecture and best names in show business, apparently the live experience could still get better.

Opera can be defined as a theatrical presentation in which a dramatic performance is set to music, incorporating many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, costumes Outboardand dance. To pull the audience in with greater force and make it feel like one of the characters, Out Board, as reported by RFID Journal, developed a sound-locating system that would pinpoint the location of the performers on the stage. What that means is that the singer’s location – or coordinates - are forwarded to a software program, which determines when a specific voice should reach a certain speaker. The second piece of the puzzle is for the software to determine the precise second for that performer’s voice to come out of a certain speaker.  

Remember the Saturday Nite Live skit with Bill Murray playing Hercules, poking fun at the audio and video being comically out of sync, as was the case in the days of early TV when sound suffered from latency issues. (The SNL video clip isn’t available due to copyright laws, but here is a transcript with pictures to jog your memory.) So, not exactly the same as what we’re talking about here, but an audible “out of sync-ness” can be noticed when you’re at an opera house that seats tens of thousands of people. And the larger the theatre, the more common it is for the performer's voice to be heard by the audience slightly later than when the voice comes out of the speakers. This obviously interferes with the sound quality, which is especially important when you’re listening to an opera in another language.

The authentic experience starts with each performer wearing a battery-powered Ubisense RFID tag, easily invisible to both performer and audience member. The tag transmits a unique ID number that is linked to the performer's information. When the performer enters the stage, it receives transmissions from RFID readers. The Ubisense Location Platform software calculates the location of the tag based on the angle of signal arrival to each reader, and the time at which the signal was received. Then it assigns the location of each tag to a specific zone on stage. By determining the exact location of each performer, the system can calculate the sound delay to ensure proper amplification and speaker location for each voice.

Many of the heavy metal concerts that I’ve seen in my day could have benefitted from better sound quality, among a few other things.

[Screenshot Outboard TiMax Tracker (TT) real-time location system]

Live From Fargo

Posted by Ken Lynch on Thu, Sep 16, 2010 @ 04:00 AM

Tags: RFID, Asset Tracking, Healthcare, RTLS

RFID for Real Time Visibility in Healthcare – You Betcha

Intelligent InSitesCommunity, commitment and trust were key themes of this week’s 2nd annual Intelligent InSites Partner Summit.  Held in Fargo, ND Sept 13-15, the Intelligent InSites program attracted an impressive mix of RFID technology companies, healthcare solution providers, system integrators, healthcare market analysts and end user hospitals.

Hospital representatives in attendance presented on the value they are receiving from the InSites Enterprise Visibility Platform™ which collects and processes location and sensor data from a variety of RFID and RTLS solutions, provides a visualization of the real-time location and status of people and assets and enables solution providers to generate rule-based notifications and alerts based on the analysis of this real-time information.  Most compelling was the hard data presented by hospitals related to how RFID and RTLS systems are contributing to reduced costs, improved patient care, improved asset management and enhanced workflows.

A new InSites Enterprise Visibility Platform user interface was presented, demonstrating a notable set of capabilities including asset views, alerts, tasks, messages and reporting – all in a very elegant wrapper.

Keynote speaker Doug Burgum - current member of the Board of Directors at Intelligent InSites and former SVP at Microsoft - gave an engaging kick off presentation.  Burgum’s talk was part history lesson on successful partnerships of the past (Lewis & Clark, Alexander von Humboldt & Aimé Bonpland and the Wright Brothers) and part business lesson based on his experience at Microsoft, Great Plains and Take Care Health Systems.  Burgum highlighted how Courage, Caring, Commitment and Community, along with an underlying foundation of trust, can create and change markets. 

Industry analyst/advisor and CEO of ChainLink Research, Ann Grackin, presented a compelling view of the connected healthcare landscape and the significant impact that technology is having on the way healthcare is being delivered today and will be delivered in the future. 

Rapid fire presentations were given by no fewer than 20 technology, OEM and Integration partners, demonstrating the success Intelligent InSites has had in building its partner community.

RFID, WiFi, voice, mobile devices and software as a service (SaaS) are established and emerging technologies that are significantly impacting the delivery of healthcare services.  Intelligent InSites’ desire to support all of these technologies has resulted in a powerful platform for healthcare networks, hospitals, clinics, and outpatient, skilled nursing and assisted living facilities looking for ways to improve patient care.

In his closing remarks, Doug Burgum left the audience with a quote from American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead:

“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

A good corporate philosophy and approach to build a successful company?  Yup, you betcha.

The Batteryless RFID Imperative in Healthcare

Posted by Ken Lynch on Tue, Jul 20, 2010 @ 10:36 AM

Tags: Loss Prevention, RFID, Asset Tracking, Healthcare, RTLS

Patient-Centric Applications That Are Changing the Healthcare Landscape

“Today, for as little as 8 cents per tag in quantities of 5 million units, one can obtain Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags that need no batteries and can report their unique identity to a reader 50 feet away. What does this mean? Simply put, batteryless (also called passive) tags enable the rapid and precise measurement of almost every operation in the healthcare setting - from counting and verifying the number of items in each surgical tray to understanding the calculus of human behavior in hygiene compliance. Think about this for a moment. I’ll wait.”

The statement above is an excerpt from a new whitepaper published by ThingMagic, exploring the numerous benefits of deploying Passive RFID in healthcare environments. Download the paper here.

Simply put, Passive RFID is the most economical way to measure a large number of parameters in healthcare settings. For example, Passive RFID can be implemented as fixed/finished readers and embedded into mobile and stationary devices to perform a variety of functions including operating room loss prevention, surgical tray and instrument track-and-trace, pharmaceutical control, document management, patient tracking/throughput, infection control, inventory control and even inventory management in ambulances.

The extreme deployment and integration flexibility of Passive RFID is complemented by the many different types of low cost Passive RFID tags that can be affixed to, or integrated into everything from consumable inventory, to handheld surgical tools, metals, liquids, patient wristbands, photo ID badges and many other items. 

Given today’s economic environment, this unmatched number of low cost, easy to deploy reader and tag combinations allows hospitals to select a single or a small number of critical areas to deploy a Passive RFID solution – based on immediate need - then expand to additional departments or add complementary components such as an RTLS or other Active RFID platforms as more resources and budget become available.

RFID Loss Prevention PortalFurther, the ability to embed Passive RFID into mobile and stationary devices allows hospitals to benefit from patient-centric applications that would otherwise not be possible, such as point-of-care solutions and services, automated pharmaceutical receipt & distribution, and automated admissions, discharge and transfer.

An example of this approach is in motion at The Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center. This installation has proved highly successful, avoiding the loss of many expensive surgical items like a $19,000 electronic neo-probe. In its next phase, Greenville Hospital will deploy Passive RFID readers throughout its main facility to track nearly 5,000 pieces of mobile medical equipment. Download the case study.

What are some other interesting RFID deployments in healthcare? What will be the next driver for healthcare organizations to invest in Passive RFID? We want to hear what you think. Please leave your comment here. 

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