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RFID Goes to the Dogs

A Texas canine day-care center uses passive EPC Gen 2 tags to track when animals arrive and leave, enabling automatic billing and quicker entrance to the facility.
By Claire Swedberg
Aug 06, 2009Canine customers at Dallas' Unleashed Indoor Dog Park arrive sporting RFID tags on their collars, and ready to play in what is billed as the world's first indoor dog day-care center. The RFID tags enable four-legged clientele to enter and exit the facility gates in a matter of seconds, while enabling automatic billing to the animals' owners. The company can utilize the same system to track the park's usage, as well as accomplish financial transactions without hiring large numbers of employees to handle the tasks.

According to Cody Acree, Unleashed Park's CEO, the system was installed, integrated and customized by Identysol, a British RFID solutions provider. There are several patents pending for some of the technology and its usage for this application, he says, to be shared by Unleashed Park and Identysol.

At Unleashed Indoor Dog Park, four-legged customers sport EPC Gen 2 RFID tags attached to their collars.
Thousands of dogs visit its facility for socializing and indoor exercise, the company indicates—which may not be possible outside, given the hot weather of a Dallas summer day—while the animals' owners can relax in a Wi-Fi-enabled lounge, or have a snack at the café. The animals can also be left at the site, to be watched and walked by trainers. The dogs can be released and cared for in a large open indoor area, or in a separate section designed for their needs, such as rooms specifically set aside for puppies, large dogs or aging pets. On Saturdays or other busy days, when the center can be visited by 500 dogs or more, many staff members would be required to confirm pet identification and complete payment transactions. Such a time-consuming process would result in a long queue of dogs and their owners.

Instead, to allow its customers to quickly enter and exit, and to track the dogs' activity, the park needed a wireless tracking solution. Acree's firm first approached GAO RFID, the solution's hardware provider. GAO brought in Identysol to design the reader infrastructure and provide a software system that Unleashed Park could then use to track and appropriately bill its clients.

The system was installed with the business' opening in March 2009. Identysol deployed Sirit interrogators at each of the two entrances and two exits, which are paired side by side. Each pair is equipped with a reader with two antennas. Identysol integrated electronic gate locks with the system so that an authorized RFID read can prompt the gates to unlock, thus enabling an authorized dog to enter or leave the park.

When new customers arrive at the center, they first fill out information regarding their dog, such as its breed, vaccination history, health records and disposition, as well as payment information, such as a credit card number. That data is input into the Kennel Connection pet facility management software used by Unleashed Park. An employee takes a plastic dog tag and employs an RFID desktop interrogator to read the unique ID number encoded to the EPC Gen 2 RFID inlay embedded within that tag. That ID number is then linked to that data, and the tag is attached to the dog's collar.

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