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Washington State's Toll Collector Trials RFID-enabled Phone Tag, App

GeoToll's new tag attaches to a commuter's NFC-enabled phone and uses the phone's HF NFC signal to power that tag's UHF transponder.
By Claire Swedberg

The GeoToll application can be set so that the tag will beacon its signal only upon coming within range of a reader. This, McGuckin says, is enabled by the phone's GPS technology; the GeoToll app determines when the phone is within approximately a quarter-mile of the tollgate (distance varies according to the environment), based on GPS data, and triggers the tag to begin beaconing. As it passes the tollgate, the tag ceases to beacon.

Because the tag is powered by signals transmitted by the mobile phone's built-in RFID reader, it does not require a battery, but it also will not operate if the phone is deactivated. During the pilot, Patterson says, he has determined that the tag will transmit properly until the instant that a phone's battery dies.

Patterson says he also envisions the technology identifying when a HOT lane member might, in fact, qualify as a high-occupancy vehicle, based on the number of RFID transmissions being detected from that individual's car. If there is more than one transmission, the software could determine that the vehicle contains multiple occupants, and the system would thus not charge the driver.

The next phase of the pilot, Patterson says, will include a greater number of WSDOT employees using the phones fitted with GeoToll tag. Moreover, the phones will be moved to various locations within the car.

For permanent deployments, McGuckin says, GeoToll can manage all RFID and financial data on its own server, or simply transmit the collected read data to the user's own software, which can then determine the financial details of each RFID read.

According to McGuckin, GeoToll is still in fundraising mode, seeking sponsors before it commercially releases its products (a launch date has yet to be determined). He declines to specify the vendor providing the RFID tags being used by GeoToll.

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