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FreezerPro ColdTrack RFID Kit Pinpoints Vials in Cryogenic Storage Boxes

RURO's solution includes BioTillion's BoxMapper reader that lets researchers not only confirm that a specific sample is present, but also know its exact location within a box.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 08, 2012For the past several years, RURO, a Frederick, Md., company that develops software for biotechnology, pharmaceutical and health-care laboratories, has been providing a solution that employs radio frequency identification to track such human tissue, DNA and other substances stored within freezers (see Labs Use EPC Gen 2 Tags to Manage Biological Samples). While that solution has enabled users to identify which RFID-tagged vials were located in a particular cold-storage container, researchers still had to visually examine labels on individual vials in order to identify a specific one required for work being undertaken.

To make it simpler and faster to locate a vial, RURO has released a new kit containing a BoxMapper RFID reader provided by BioTillion, a technology firm based in New Jersey. The device detects not only which RFID-tagged vials are located within a particular cryogenic storage box (known as a cryo-box), but also where in that box they are located.

When storing samples at ultra-low temperatures, researchers place biological materials in vials, which are then loaded into cryo-boxes holding up to 100 vials apiece. Each vial looks more or less the same, the company reports, so if a researcher requires a specific vial—for example, one filled with DNA from a particular type of donor—he or she would need to lift up every vial to read text written on its label, or interrogate each vial's RFID tag. With the BoxMapper system, that process is unnecessary, since the samples' locations' can be mapped out by placing the cryo-box on the BoxMapper. The device has a built-in reader wired to an array of antennas. It comes with a cable for connecting to the USB port of a computer running RURO software, and is powered by that USB connection.

"This is a plug-and-play solution," says Vlad Lebedev, RURO's systems architect. A user can simply install the software, and the reader will begin capturing ID numbers from the vials' tags and transmitting that data back to the software.

The FreezerPro ColdTrack kit comes with 1,000 Wheaton 2-milliliter (0.7-ounce) vials, each embedded with an EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag. It also contains 10 Wheaton cryo-boxes, along with a BoxMapper reader to fit the cryo-box size selected. A user can also purchase a single-vial RFID reader or a handheld version.

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