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Precyse Technologies' RFID System Uses Beacons to Extend Reach

The company's iLocate technology enables companies to track assets in remote sites, by deploying multiple beacons that allow an RFID reader to communicate with battery-powered tags thousands of feet away.
By Claire Swedberg
Aug 07, 2008Several companies in the Middle East and North America are trying out an asset-tracking solution that leverages multiple beacons, allowing a single RFID reader to communicate with battery-powered tags located thousands of feet away. The iLocate solution, provided by Israeli RFID company Precyse Technologies, is being utilized by freight managers, agriculture equipment manufacturers and rail companies to monitor their vehicles or other large assets in outdoor yards and remote locations.

Byron Blackburn, president of Illinois-based consultant services company Blackburn Global, says he has sold the product to a number of customers as an alternative to an RFID system that would require an expensive permanent installation. Rather than, for instance, cabling multiple readers throughout a location, this solution can be set up quickly, Blackburn says, and moved or removed if needed elsewhere, without a large infrastructure to dismantle. That's because there is just one reader, along with a series of beacons that locate and transmit signals to and from the battery-powered RFID tags.

The companies Blackburn works with are typically concerned about the safety of their assets, which often consist of vehicles that could be driven off a site, and the fuel stored in those vehicles. The site where these assets are being tracked is often remote, with no staff present to read or write to asset tags.

One popular alternative, Blackburn says, is the iLocate system. The system, according to Precyse Technologies' product marketing director, Rom Eizenberg, incorporates battery-powered RFID tags, multiple beacons, a centralized middleware software package and an RFID interrogator that serves as a base station. The tags rely on the beacons to communicate with a single RFID interrogator up to 3,000 feet away, thereby avoiding the need to deploy multiple readers.

Most other active RFID tags on the market, Eizenberg notes, must be written to by an exciter or reader at closer range. With iLocate, Eizenberg says, a user at a single remote location can load new software or instructions—such as how often to transmit—onto thousands of tags via the beacons. Users can also encrypt the tags and change the security keys remotely, if necessary.

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