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RFID Helps Parents Find Lost School Uniforms

Approximately 100 schools have adopted the RagTagd system since the company launched two years ago, enabling parents to receive a text message if their child's garment is left behind in a school's lost-and-found area.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 05, 2018

A group of entrepreneurs in Australia have launched a solution that helps parents of school children track their uniforms, at a cost of just $1.50 extra per item. The company, known as RagTagd, sells its product by the same name. The RagTagd solution consists simply of a passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID-enabled lost property-collections box placed in a school's lost-and-found areas, as well as a tag attached to uniforms. The software on RagTagd's server tracks the items inside the box on a daily basis, then sends parents a text message.

The plug-in box consists of a reader built by the company, with a Jadak ThingMagic module and a 3G transmitter. It can't get much simpler, says company co-founder Eugene Holdenson, a former college student who launched the company with fellow co-founder Chloe Blattmann. Neither founder had any background in RFID technology, and both were around 23 years old at the time of the firm's launch in 2015. That, he says, may be the solution's beauty—the founders simply identified a problem and tinkered with a reader and tags until they worked.

The concept began when Holdenson (then a college student) was doing some side work at a local primary school and saw a pile of misplaced uniform jackets and jumpers (sweaters) that had accumulated in the lost-and-found department. "It was mess," he recalls, and he thus began coming up with a solution.

The lost-property problem is ubiquitous for schools worldwide, the company reports. Children attend school in the jumpers and jackets, as well as hats in some cases, then take them off while on the playground or elsewhere, and often forget about them. At the end of the school year, any unclaimed items are usually discarded, causing waste and expense for parents.

To solve this problem, Holdenson considered applying QR codes to uniforms, which could then be scanned. QR code scanning, however, required school employees to modify their behavior so much that it became inconvenient. That led the company to consider implementing UHF RFID technology. With a built-in reader and tagged clothing, school employees didn't have to do anything beyond dropping the garment into the box.

By late 2015, RagTagd had developed its first prototype, and a more effective version was created in April 2016, which was tested at Roseville Public School, in New South Wales. The company then began tagging school uniforms for parents before they purchased those uniforms at the beginning of the school year. Parents initially paid an additional $3 or $3.50 for each labelled item. The price has since dropped to $1.50

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