Posts Tagged ‘rfid’

RFID may cause interference with medical equipments

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

Certain types of radio frequency identification tags can cause electromagnetic interference with medical equipment, according to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The report cautions facilities to check for interference from an RFID system before deploying it.

The study examined the impact of 125-kHz and 868-MHz frequencies on medical equipment. The 125-kHz is the technology used in proximity cards while the 868-MHz is a long-range RFID tag. Contactless smart cards, which use the 13.56 MHz, were not mentioned in the report.

In 123 tests, RFID induced 34 incidents of interference: 22 were classified as hazardous, two as significant, and ten as light. The 868-MHz RFID signal induced a higher number of incidents, 26 incidents in 41 EMI tests. Compared with the 125-kHz RFID signal which cause eight incidents in 41 tests. The median distance between the RFID reader and the medical device in all EMI incidents was 30 centimeters.

Read a summary of the report here.

Works on RFID system to analyze traffic

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

trafficIPICO Inc. and McMaster RFID Applications Laboratory have been awarded a $1.2 million (Canadian dollars) grant to create an RFID system that would capture and analyze data related to traffic use and capacity, without a corresponding increase in investment in road infrastructure. The technology also could be used to help manage traffic, reducing road delays and transit time, and then reduce both emissions and dependency on fossil fuels.

The grant was from the International Science and Technology Partnerships Canada Inc. and the Global Innovation & Technology Alliance. McMaster and IPICO will work with the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and Strategic Consultants, both of New Delhi, India.

The consortium had submitted a proposal to develop and create a platform for a specially designed passive commercial RFID transponder that would be capable of carrying significant, safe, secure and accurate information pertaining to the vehicle itself, including its identity. This information collected would be used to manage transportation flows on highways and roads.

Source: RFID News

The ZigBee Lesson

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

What does the story of another low-power, low-cost radio standard tell us about the future of RFID?

At about the same time as Electronic Product Code (EPC) technology was being developed, another somewhat similar standard was being born. ZigBee is a standard for mesh networking, in which tiny low-powered radios form networks by passing data among themselves.

Mesh networking is a cool idea on a chalkboard. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, academic mathematicians enthusiastically calculated what shapes and communication styles mesh networks should have, what their power would be, and how they would work.

But what was the point? While ZigBee could pass information over short ranges at low costs, RFID could identify things over short ranges at a lower cost. And while ZigBee was simpler and cheaper than Wi-Fi, which was becoming the dominant force in wireless local-area networking, it was also less powerful. What was the killer application that did not need the luxurious bandwidth of Wi-Fi, but needed more networking capability than could be had from the simple identification provided by RFID?

ZigBee enthusiasts and entrepreneurs wrestled with that question for more than five years. There were disappointments. Opportunities appeared and shimmered, but turned out to be mirages. There was military ZigBee, medical ZigBee, even ZigBee-enabled RFID readers and tags. None of these led to large orders. ZigBee appeared to be in trouble, crushed between cheaper RFID and more powerful Wi-Fi.

Two years ago, I mentioned ZigBee at a meeting with one of the world’s largest wireless networking companies and got a derisory reaction: ZigBee, explained the Wi-Fi product manager, was a dead technology. Wi-Fi could do everything ZigBee could do and would soon be cheaper, too, due to the huge volumes of Wi-Fi devices being manufactured. At about the same time, an MIT engineering Ph.D. pointed me to a detailed paper showing that ZigBee would fail due to unavoidable bandwidth crunches. It all seemed very convincing.

Then the U.S. electricity industry decided, with a little encouragement from the federal government, that it was time to replace decades-old electricity meters with new, network-enabled devices that would not just monitor energy consumption but potentially control it as well. Wi-Fi was too expensive and too power-hungry; the point was to reduce power use, not add to it. Since all the meters, air conditioners and light switches were conveniently located right alongside one another, the solution was obvious and ready to go: ZigBee. Today, millions of dollars are being invested in ZigBee home-automation technology.

What does this have to do with RFID? The lesson of ZigBee is that all major technologies go through cycles of hope and despair, of exuberance and pessimism, of adoring experts and then scathing experts. This happens until those first big commercial applications kick in. Then it’s hard to find a naysayer anywhere. So if you find yourself wondering whether the RFID revolution is ever going to come, remember ZigBee—where the right questions turned out to be how and when, not if.

Souce: RFID Journal

RFID making in roads in health care

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

tag_green_inhand.gifThe last thing a hospital employee wants to do is run around searching for a piece of equipment needed for a patient or an upcoming surgery. If the device can’t be found, often, hospitals rent the equipment even though it same device may be sitting somewhere in the hospital, such as a storage room or another area long vacated by the patient, unused. These rentals can cut into a hospital’s bottom line.

But using the same scenario, what if you could go to the nearest computer, call up the device number and get notification, within six feet, of where that device is? That’s the purpose behind RFID in a hospital environment. Yes, it’s the same technology used by major retailers or wholesalers to track products or shipments but health care facilities are also using it to save money.

Awarepoint, San Diego, Calif., was founded six-years ago to track assets and people in real time at acute care hospitals, says its CEO, Jason Howe. Like RFID, Awarepoint’s primary product, real time location service, has its own acronym, RTLS, which goes beyond location. “You also need to monitor and get history as well,” says Howe.

The company’s name is derived from this: “Find a point and you’re aware of everything,” says Howe. While Awarepoint is an active RFID company, he compares RTLS to an indoor positioning system. In fact, Awarepoint got its start by tracking kids at theme parks. RTLS grew from that when it was realized that such a system could work well in hospitals, which “have a lot of unique issues,” says Howe.

He describes what he calls five criteria that need to be in place to make RTLS advantageous for hospitals.

First, you need facility-wide coverage. “You have to cover every square inch of your medical facility,” says Howe. He likens this to GPS. If you drive outside a zone that may not be covered, there’s a problem.

Second, it has to be accurate enough to be able to pinpoint the item’s location. Is it in a hallway, outside of the hallway or in a room? “You have to have enough accuracy to tell you where things are,” he says.

Three, it has to be an easy to install. “You can’t afford to pull wires and cables everywhere. And you can’t shut down patient rooms or the operating rooms. You can’t interfere with any systems,” Howe says.

Lastly, you have to be interoperable with other systems in the hospital. “You have to be able to leverage those systems. There needs to be some way of integrating this system. It can’t be its own proprietary system.” (more…)

Alanco to track D.C. inmates

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

prisonAlanco Technologies has announced that its subsidiary Alanco/TSI Prism, a provider of real-time RFID tracking technologies, has won a $3.3 million contract to create an RFID-based inmate tracking system for the Washington D.C. Department of Corrections.

The Alanco/TSI Prism system, which will combine Alanco’s TSI Prism RFID system with Wi-Fi compatible RTLS technology from AeroScout, will be installed at a Washington DC jail complex housing over 2,000 prisoners and staffed by 450 DOC employees. The system is intended to increase safety and improve inmate accountability.

Source: RFID News

HP offers RFID tracking service

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Hewlett-Packard has introduced a new service which enables clients to track their critical data center assets. The HP Factory Express RFID Service automates and tracks device movement, eliminating the need for employees to manually track inventory.

The HP tagging process scans factory-built HP components such as servers, storage devices and rack enclosures before they are incorporated into a client’s data center, and provides an accurate inventory of the assets throughout their life cycle. The service can provide real-time supply chain visibility, helping to reduce property loss, increase security and improve audit controls.

There are two levels of the service available. The HP RFID Factory Express Standard Service includes standard generation-two RFID tags affixed to specific HP products or packaging with a unique Electronic Product Code assignment and data tracking capabilities. The HP RFID Factory Express Custom Service allows for customized RFID tag placement and additional RFID services from HP that transmit RFID tracking information from the factory to the customer.

The HP Factory Express RFID Service is available directly through HP or its channel partners in the United States and Canada, or as part of HP Factory Express, a broader portfolio of integrated factory solutions and deployment services. HP plans to extend the service to customers worldwide over the next year.

Source: RFID News

Olympic tickets to carry wealth of personal info

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

The Chinese Olympic Committee has offered more details about the RFID-enabled tickets being issued for the Beijing Olympics this summer. All tickets to the opening and closing ceremonies will include RFID tags containing personal information about the ticket holder, including passport information and home and e-mail addresses.

The information is included in an attempt to thwart counterfeiting of the tickets, which have a face value of $720. But the tickets raise concern among security experts, who theorize that an extremely secure RFID system to handle the tickets could cause serious tie-ups at the gates, while a lax security system would make ticket holders’ personal data easy prey to hackers. Officials say the Games’ security team will employ an IT team of at least 4,000 experts with 1,000 servers at their disposal, testing the system for the next two months.

Officials originally planned to embed RFID tags in all 6.8 million tickets issued for Olympics events. These plans apparently went by the wayside, along with a plan to include place a photo of each ticket holder on their ticket. The RFID tags will only be in tickets for the opening and closing events, and photos of the tickets released to the press show no photos on them.

Source: RFID News

New Zealand hopes to track all cattle, deer by 2011

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

cattlesThe New Zealand government has pledged $23.3 million (New Zealand dollars) to create a system of mandatory RFID-tagging for all of the country’s farm-raised cattle and deer by 2011. The funding for the biosecurity project will cover its set-up costs, with a new tax likely to be levied to support operational costs.

Under the proposed National Animal Identification and Tracing project, each farm animal will be assigned a unique code that will be stored in a database alongside details such as the age, sex and breed of the animal, its owner, its herd of origin and the identification number of the property on which it is located. The project would also create FarmsOnLine, an online database that will store up-to-date electronic maps of farms along with their contact and stock details.

The system will assist in tracking animals in the event of disease outbreak, but could also be used by farmers to improve farm management, and by retailers to provide consumers with more information about meat’s origin.

The mandatory nature of the system will require new legislation to put it into permanent effect, but officials believe they can get the system up and running before such legislation is passed. Trials of RFID tags are under way at a dozen farms in New Zealand.

Source: Link

OATSystems selected to track drugs with integrated solution from SAP Auto-ID

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Cephalon Inc. has selected OAT’s RFID solution for serialized shipment container tracking, extending its SAP Auto-ID Infrastructure for RFID reach to operational processes and workflows. Cephalon is an international biopharmaceutical company that has been testing RFID technology for the past three years to improve supply chain efficiency and visibility. RFID serialized container tracking will support efforts to combat counterfeiting as well as improve process execution.

OAT’s RFID solution was integrated with SAP Solution for RFID to enable serialized shipping container tracking and to set the foundation for tracking drug pedigrees. Cephalon has architected SAP Auto-ID Infrastructure as an extension of its core ERP processes for serialized product and containers to enrich standard processes around deliveries, advanced shipping notices, pick/pack/ship and handling.

This new project extends this architecture further and leverages the combined OAT and SAP solution to enable distribution center-based processes and workflows to track serialized shipping containers. OAT commissions and associates the RFID tags with specific containers and records the containers’ contents and attributes; SAP solutions provide process oversight, number range management and OAT provides operational workflow management. After processing, OAT reports back the shipping container’s EPC number and the details of its contents, enabling SAP business processes such as pharmaceutical advance shipping notices to be carried out automatically.
Source: RFID News

RFID privacy and security

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

The issues of privacy and security, although interrelated, are different. With respect to RFID, we define these issues as follows:

Privacy: the ability of the RFID system to keep the meaning of the information transmitted between the tag and the reader secure from non-intended recipients.

Security: the ability of the RFID system to keep the information transmitted between the tag and the reader secure from non-intended recipients.

The issues have very different repercussions and different solutions. In a given environment, an RFID solution may pose security risks without affecting the issue of privacy. An example of this scenario is when a tag broadcasts its unique identification number in a consistent and unencrypted manner. This enables the tag to be detected by any reader that can decode the RF signal. If all that is read is the tag’s unique identifier – and no association can be made to what that identifier means without access to the backend database that maintains the relationship between the tag IDs and the objects that they represent – there is no privacy issue. However, issues of traceability and inventorying may remain.

Traceability and inventorying relate to the ability of an unauthorized entity to read the identifiers sent by RFID tags without necessarily being concerned as to what the tag is affixed to or who/what is carrying it. In other words just by capturing the signals emitted by an RFID tag, a third party could trace where the tag is or has been (traceability) as well as to what tags have been detected (inventorying).

A standard EPC tag conveys information associated with a particular item, its model or product class and its manufacturer. Anyone with a standard EPC reader could get close enough to a shopper leaving a store to determine what products and what quantities were purchased. Furthermore, the unauthorized reader could track the shopper from a distance utilizing a high-powered reader.

The issue of privacy

RFID is an excellent technology for object tracking. In this case, we can define an object as a physical asset that occupies 3-dimensional space. This means that the whereabouts of any physical object (including animals and humans) can potentially be tracked within the scope of the RFID infrastructure. As RFID technology development progresses, this scope can become larger and larger.

This fact has raised many questions and concerns from people because of the potential invasion of privacy that can be attributed to RFID technology. But, before we get deeper into the privacy issues and their repercussions, let’s look at a few examples of what privacy advocates and the concerned public claim can go wrong with the use of RFID technology.