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Trolley Scan (South Africa) delivers first commercialised RFID-radar system

Trolley Scan (Pty) Ltd, a Johannesburg, South Africa based developer of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technologies announced the delivery of the first commercialised version of an amazing new RFID technology that they have trademarked "RFID-radar". The first clients are an IT company based in Europe.

Said Mike Marsh, Managing Director of Trolley Scan -"The delivery of the first RFID-radar system to our client in Europe, marks the end of a hectic six months of development. Just six months ago we stumbled by chance on a method of measuring the distance, with great accuracy and over long distances, that a signal travelled from a transponder back to a reader. We have had to build concept proving equipment, conduct extensive field tests and design the first version of the commercial equipment. The testing included 14000 range measurements to verify consistency and accuracy. The system contains four parallel computers to perform the massive numerical calculations for which we had to write and debug thousands of lines of code. In addition we had to write handbooks for the operators. This delivery marks a milestone in the development of this exciting technology.

"The breakthrough with RFID-radar is the ability to measure the distance travelled by a signal from a transponder to a reader accurately, using minimal radio spectrum to reduce effects on other users, and with very low cost transponders and readers. This invention allows us to develop a new generation of RFID reader, a reader that can identify and locate exactly many transponders in a very large reading zone."

Said Marsh- "The new technology will result in the development of an entire new set of applications for computer based equipment. Applications could include the location of goods in a warehouse; tracking of individual animals in a herd; the monitoring of the movement of assets in a building; the location of parcels and airline luggage in a warehouse; the monitoring of children in a creche; or the monitoring of security zones to ensure sensitive areas are avoided. As all measurements are performed from one set of antennas, the equipment can even be mounted on a forklift truck to locate goods in a warehouse relative to the current position of the vehicle."

The commercialisation will promote the development of longer range RFID systems, using lower power passive transponder technology. The delivered system operates in the EU RFID band at 869.5MHz with very low power. Due to the wideband nature of the transponders, and the flexibility of the reader, the system can be set to operate at any of the UHF frequencies in the 860-960 MHz bands, making it suitable for use in all countries. Currently operating ranges of 40 meters are practical, but it is expected to extend this to 100 meters in the near future.

In the future there will be RFID readers that just give identity information, and there will be RFID-radar type readers that give identity, location and tracking information.

About Trolley Scan (Pty) Ltd
Trolley Scan have proven to be a major creative force in the development of UHF RFID technologies.

The staff of Trolley Scan, which was founded in 1995, have a pedigree that goes back to 1990 when the first low cost RFID protocol was developed by the founder while working for a South African government research organisation, culminating in 1994 in the demonstration of a supermarket trolley containing 38 items being scanned automatically in a supermarket in Pretoria. In 1998, the founders of Trolley Scan developed an entirely new set of protocols for UHF RFID which they have been actively promoting. They also have addressed the situation of the 3 dimensional scanning of goods, and have developed a very low power RFID version which they commercialise under the EcoTag trademark.

In August 2005 Trolley Scan invented RFID-radar. Trolley Scan are based in Johannesburg South Africa.

Trolley Scan licence their patents and technology to companies around the world who wish to produce this technology. Trolley Scan have sold RFID systems to users in 45 countries.

Complete systems can be ordered via their website.

RFID systems comprise of a transponder that is attached to the goods to be identified and a reader that converts the information in those transponders to a computer compatible format for processing. The transponder can consist of a simple antenna and a small integrated circuit that can be produced at low cost. Operating in the 860 to 960 MHz (UHF) band, the transponder can be identified meters away from the reader, can be identified in a group with up to 1000 other transponders when being read, and can be identified very quickly. In view of the system using radio waves for energy and information transfer, it is not necessary for the transponder and reader to be in line of sight.

Potential use of these systems is extensive, from herd animal tracking, library books, pallets, warehousing, bank and postal bags, asset tracking, airline luggage, vehicle monitoring (access and parking), to intelligent buildings (tracking files, documents and assets moving around an office to minimise finding time).

The ultimate goal is to use these transponders with their inbuilt anti-shoplifting features to replace the barcodes labelling goods in a retail store allowing filled supermarket trolleys to be scanned in seconds in unmanned self-service checkout aisles.

RFID-radar is a new development that includes a measurement of range from the reader to the transponder. This measurement is made repeatedly allowing the reader to report range and tracking information for all transponders in the zone. The major development comes from the ability to measure the range accurately from a single reader position. This single measurement point allows mobile operation, as well as 2D and 3D location information of all transponders in the zone. The measurement of range is a major breakthrough, as the radio signals travel at 300 000 kilometers/second and the timing accuracy measurements are limited to 1/10,000th of a second. The RFID-radar has to operate in the very limited radio spectrum shared with the many users who use radio devices, such as cell phones. RFID-radar uses just 10kHz of radio spectrum and is so environmentally friendly that two RFID-radar systems can operate within 4 meters of each other. The RFID-radar delivers positioning accuracy of each transponder in the zone to 0.5 meters with a maximum range of 100 meters. The pointing accuracy of a vector for locating in 2D and 3D can be as accurate as 1 degree for each transponder.

The addition of position information encourages the development of much further scanning range from single readers and lower power transponders, as now the identity and exact location can be determined.

Trolleyponder and EcoTag are registered trademarks of Trolley Scan (Pty) Ltd
RFID-radar is the trademark of Trolley Scan.

Trolley Scan (Pty) Ltd © / info@rfid-radar.com