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Hebrew University's Nanotech Lab Tracks Researcher Locations, Emergencies

The school's Unit for Nanofabrication lab is employing an RTLS solution from LogiTag to identify researchers' locations, and to issue alerts if a worker presses a panic alarm on an RFID tag.
By Claire Swedberg

While looking for a solution, Hebrew University sought a fail-proof panic-response system. "The most important function [for us was] to know the location of the person that pushed their panic button," says Shimon Eliav, a Hebrew University professor and the head of the UNF lab. "Time is critical—every second literally counts—and we need to know where they are. In addition, the system must be completely reliable—[it must] work on the first call. There isn't an opportunity to press the button more than once in critical situations. It, therefore, needs to work all the time, as originally intended."

The school had already tried an RFID-based alerting system that proved unable to properly identify the location of someone within the lab, which measures 180 square meters (1,938 square feet) in size and is divided into 10 rooms. The presence of a large amount of metal in the lab (including metal walls that reflect RF signals) made that older system's transmissions unreliable, so that even if an alert were pressed, it would be difficult to identify where that person was located. LogiTag began developing a new solution for the lab in 2012, and created a system consisting of 125 kHz long-frequency (LF) exciters and 433 MHz active RFID tags and readers. To overcome interference caused by the metal walls, the company devised a solution involving antenna design and reader power control, says Shlomo Matityaho, LogiTag's CEO.

The LogiTag software displays the locations of all researchers in the lab, along with video footage from cameras installed within each of the 10 rooms.
The system consists of seven base unit readers and 20 LF exciters deployed throughout the lab.

Each technician or researcher entering the lab wears a protective suit with an attached LogiTag 433 MHz active RFID tag. While moving around the lab, he or she passes LF exciter antennas that send out a unique ID number. When the tag receives that LF transmission, it transmits its own unique ID, along with that of the exciter, to the base unit readers via a 433 MHz signal using a proprietary air-interface protocol. These readers then link the location data with that person's badge ID and forward that information to the primary base unit via 900 MHz wireless signals. That primary base unit is plugged directly into a computer to forward the data to a cloud-based server.

The LogiTag software interprets and stores the information, enabling users to access historical records for any search requirement. It also displays the locations of all researchers in the lab on a digital floor plan, along with video footage obtained from cameras installed within each of the 10 rooms.

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