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National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art Adopts Active-Passive RFID Solution

The RFID system, provided by EPC Solutions Taiwan, is designed so that the museum can view the real-time location of artwork on display or being moved within its warehouse.
By Claire Swedberg

All of the existing 433 MHz active readers are being replaced. To date, EPC Solutions has installed a single passive ALR-9900+ 902 to 928 MHz reader in one of the museum's 24 exhibition halls. This system also employs a FlexAnt cable antenna to provide highly granular location data without requiring the use of active tags.

"It looks like a normal coaxial cable," Liu says. The cable is soft, with an extendable length that can be dictated by use case. It functions as a UHF antenna, he adds, and is designed to emit an electromagnetic wave that surrounds the surface of the cable—which measures 20 to 30 meters (66 to 98 feet) in length or more. The FlexAnt, for which EPC Solutions Taiwan has a patent, has been commercially available and used in a variety of applications for more than a year, Liu notes.

The cable is installed along the length of a display wall, typically behind that wall (or under an exhibit table), and is thus invisible. All tags within the electromagnetic coverage area can then be read in real time, at a distance of up to about 1.5 meters (4.9 feet). "It can be installed in any environment," Liu states, "including one containing metal." The company is currently marketing this technology for other applications as well, including the management of tags in such areas as data centers.

In the near future, Liu reports, the museum plans to install additional Alien readers to provide coverage for all of the artwork at its 23 other exhibition halls. Beginning next month, the NTMOFA's Art Bank, Taiwan program will begin loaning out artwork to companies or other private interests, with the goal of promoting local Taiwanese artists. The contemporary Taiwanese art pieces (initially several hundred) will be fitted with EPC Gen 2 RFID tags, and the museum expects that staff members will use the handhelds to interrogate those tags prior to loaning the artwork to the recipients. In that way, the museum can create an electronic record of when the art was loaned, to whom and when it was returned.

"We feel more comfortable with this new installation" than with the prior solely active RFID system, says J.G. Chang, an officer at the NTMOFA.

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