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HayTag Looks for Lost Dogs

Haystack Technologies is marketing a Dash7-compliant active 433 MHz RFID tag that attaches to a pet's collar, as well as a reader that plugs into an iPhone.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 15, 2012A year ago, a startup called Haystack Technologies launched its H-Builder development platform to enable companies and individuals to create solutions based on the Dash7 (ISO 18000-7) standard and OpenTag open-source firmware library for active 433 MHz radio frequency identification tags and readers. But recently, the firm began marketing its own products, the first of which focuses on locating missing pets. The HayTag—for which orders are now being accepted, and which will begin shipping in March 2013—consists of an active 433 MHz RFID tag that can be attached to a pet's collar, and works in conjunction with the Haystack Adapter, an RFID reader that plugs into an Apple iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. The system is expected to work with Android phones by mid-2013.

Patrick Burns, Haystack Technologies' cofounder and CEO, was a member and cofounder of the Dash7 Alliance, where he oversaw the development of the open active RFID standard. Burns says he thought of the HayTag pet-tracking idea while jogging around his neighborhood, where signs for a lost dog were posted. "I knew this would be an easy one to solve," he says, noting that the existing solution—low-frequency (LF) microchips implanted in animals—has limitations. Such a system, he explains, works only if a veterinarian has the appropriate reader to interrogate the tag at close range, which doesn't help a pet owner immediately if that person's pet ends up missing.


The Haystack Adapter is a small 433 MHz RFID reader that plugs into an Apple iPhone.
At the time, Haystack Technologies had also been developing a reader adapter that can be plugged into an iPhone or other Apple product, thereby enabling it to read Dash7 tags. Over the course of a few months, the company created the HayTag solution.

The tag is the shape and size of a regular dog tag, but measures approximately 3 millimeters (0.12 inch) thick. Its built-in solar cell harvests and stores enough electricity to power the tag for days—typically, after 20 minutes outdoors in daylight, or after 10 hours of indoor light. Power consumption is low, Burns says, because the tag remains dormant until detecting a reader's transmission.

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