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NFC Gives Trees a Touch of Blarney
Ireland's Blarney Castle Gardens is applying NFC RFID tags to its collection, in order to communicate information about the plants to staff members, as well as to visitors of the castle and Blarney Stone.
Jan 14, 2015—
Blarney Castle Gardens is attaching Near Field Communication (NFC) tags to its 2,000-plus collection of trees to help gardeners easily access historical data about specific trees, as well as update records with the services being provided. Equipped with NFC-enabled Android smartphones, employees can access data regarding which tree they are working with and what has been done to it, and the system will also allow them to input such details as the pruning or inspection provided on a specific day.
However, the ZipNFC solution employed by the castle's gardening staff offers another benefit, head gardener Adam Whitbourn reports: It allows anyone equipped with an NFC-enabled phone, without an app, to capture data from the trees' tags, including each tree's species, pictures, information about the geographic area from which it originates, and how well it might grow in their own gardens. Blarney Castle Gardens began tagging trees in November 2014, and expects to have its entire collection tagged by March or April of this year, at which time the castle will also provide the public with access to some data. In the meantime, garden personnel are already using the technology to track the work they do in the garden.
While the castle wanted to encourage visitors to spend some time enjoying the beauty of the gardens and forest, Whitbourn says, the initial goal was to better manage the care of the trees and plants. As in most gardens, Blarney Castle's staff conduct periodic tasks to care for the tree and plant collection, including pruning, inspecting and watering. To create a record of what had been done, as well as the condition of any particular tree or plant, workers previously carried pen and paper, manually inputting data into the castle's database.Ad World IT. ZipNFC provides NFC tags that it manufactures in-house, as well as its hosted software and apps for Android phones. In the future, if Apple opens up the use of the NFC readers being built into its products, the app would work on iOS phones as well, says Chris Humphries, the CEO of Ad World IT and ZipNFC. The app also works with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons, though ZipNFC, which was launched two years ago, has only sold its NFC-based solution to date.
The tags—made with NXP Semiconductors' NTAG 203 or 213 chips—come in the form of small black plastic disks, either as 28-millimeter (1.1-inch) tags that are hung on smaller trees or plants, or as 30-millimeter (1.2-inch) tags designed to be nailed to a tree's trunk without causing it harm.
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