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AeroScout Intros New Ultrasound and Sensor Wi-Fi RFID Tags

The ultrasound model makes it easier to pinpoint an item to a specific room; the sensor tags measure humidity or temperatures as low as -100 degrees Celsius.
By Beth Bacheldor
Apr 07, 2009AeroScout, a Redwood City, Calif., provider of a Wi-Fi-enabled RFID real-time location system (RTLS), is unveiling several new additions to its product portfolio. These include a new tag that incorporates ultrasound technology to make it easier to locate an item, such as an infusion pump, in a specific room, as well as new humidity and temperature sensors designed to help health-care organizations more closely monitor environmental conditions that can affect devices, patients, medicines and more.

The ultrasound solution includes new Wi-Fi active RFID tags that feature integrated ultrasound receivers. The solution also comprises ultrasound exciters that detect and communicate with the receivers, as well as AeroScout's MobileView software, which provides users with graphical maps, reporting and analytical tools, and alerting so organizations can track tagged assets, patients and staff members in real time.

AeroScout's Wi-Fi tags transmit 2.4 GHz signals and communicate their unique ID numbers to a wireless network composed of Wi-Fi access points. Based on a particular tag's transmissions, the AeroScout Engine employs triangulation to compute its location. But with the active tags, the RTLS can identify an object's whereabouts only to within approximately 10 feet. Moreover, RF signals can transmit through walls, making it difficult to pinpoint a tagged item's exact room location. Ultrasound signals, on the other hand, are unable to penetrate walls, thus reducing the likelihood of tracking errors, and enabling items to be located within a specific room.

Basically, the tag remains dormant, continuously listening for an exciter's ultrasound signal. The exciter, which emits a signal encoded with a unique ID number, can be plugged into an electrical outlet or connected to power-over-Ethernet cabling. When the tag detects an exciter's ultrasound signal, says Joel Cook, AeroScout's marketing director for health-care solutions, it awakens and transmits its own unique ID number, as well as the exciter's ID number, to the nearest Wi-Fi access point.

The AeroScout Engine contains a database that correlates the ultrasound exciter's ID number with the room in which the exciter was placed, then sends that information, along with the tag data, to the MobileView software. The software accesses a database that correlates the tag number to an asset, then maps the tagged asset's room location.

"This is the easiest and most accurate way to provide room-level resolution," says Steffan Haithcox, AeroScout's senior director of marketing. "We've embedded ultrasound technology into our current Wi-Fi tracking solution. You don't have to add more [Wi-Fi] access points; you can plug the ultrasound exciters in the wall, and put the new tags on the items that you want to track at room-level resolution. So that simplifies deployment—nothing else changes."

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