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Telepathx Develops Accident-Detecting System Linked to Auto Airbags

The company's Enterprise Call Box is designed to automatically notify transportation departments and emergency responders.
By Beth Bacheldor
Aug 01, 2007Australian wireless and communications company Telepathx has added a solution for monitoring automobiles to its growing portfolio of RFID-enabled systems. The Enterprise Call Box (ECB) can send an alert if a car's airbag inflates or the vehicle rolls over, thereby helping transportation departments, emergency responders and others track road conditions and automobile accidents.

Telepathx already manufactures several RFID-enabled products used to help monitor emergency events. Its Automated Crash Notification (ACN) system, for example, includes an active 433 MHz RFID tag with a mechanical vibration sensor. The tag is designed to be attached to utility poles, guardrails, signs and other fixed roadside objects. If a car crashes into a tagged roadside object, the vibration sensor activates the tag, which uses a proprietary air-interface protocol to transmit its ID number to a Pinpoint Remote Transmission Unit (RTU) located on a utility pole.

The RTU identifies the tag's ID, assembles a message (including the time and location of the crash) and instantly relays that information over the Telepathx Urban Mesh Network to an operation center, which routes the data to emergency response teams (see Crash Course). The Telepathx Urban Mesh Network, a monitoring platform developed for communities and essential service providers, operates over the Telstra mobile network.

To help combat fires common in the Australian bush, Telepathx also offers its VRF sensor, which includes a similar 433 MHZ active RFID tag, combined with a thermal sensor. When the sensor discerns temperatures within 2 degrees of a predetermined setting, it activates the RFID tag, communicating its unique ID number to an RTU. The system cross-checks the tag's ID number against those stored in the RTU's memory, then sends a message to a contact person's cell phone via the Telepathx network (see Fighting Fires With RFID and Wireless Sensors).

The newest addition, the ECB, is designed to retrofit into existing roadside emergency telephones, according to James Eades, the company's CEO and founder. The ECB is similar to the Pinpoint RTU and includes a 433 MHz RFID interrogator, a microprocessor, a GPS receiver and a modem using either GSM, satellite or CDMA 3G wireless communications. Like the Pinpoint RTU, the ECB is designed to monitor ACN RFID tag/sensors affixed to utility poles, guardrails and other roadside objects.

Telepathx is in talks with automotive dealers to have them fit their vehicles with accident-detecting RFID tags and sensors that would work in conjunction with the ECB. One such product is a wireless sensor that would detect the activation of an airbag, then transmit the make and model of the vehicle using the same proprietary air-interface protocol employed by Telepathx's 433 MHz active tags.

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