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By Beth Bacheldor

Auburn University's RFID Lab Installs PLUS Location Systems' RTLS

PLUS Location Systems, a provider of real-time location system (RTLS) and decision-support solutions, has announced a partnership with the Auburn University RFID Lab, to study Internet of Things technologies that leverage RFID and RTLS capabilities.

The Auburn RFID Lab is a research institute focused on the business cases and technical implementation of RFID and other emerging technologies in retail, supply chain and manufacturing, according to PLUS Location. The lab features 13,000 square feet of simulated retail, grocery, warehouse and distribution center environments, as well as academic and student expertise.

The lab has had a heavy focus on ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID and the retail sector. But Justin Patton, the RFID Lab's directory, says the lab is focused on a variety of technologies and open to all who would to include unique demos in the lab. "We have had active and RTLS systems in the lab for demo and research since our inception in Arkansas in 2006," he states, "and have done quite a bit of research in non-RF areas as well, including computer vision and visual identification technologies. We have a research push in sensor fusion and RF fusion. Most new RFID applications are focusing on multi-sensor technologies, so we don't plan to narrow our focus to UHF only in the future."

According to Phil Yates, PLUS Location Systems' VP of product development, organizations are trying to gain insight into the detailed behavior and interaction of all their employees, assets and inventory throughout their entire enterprise. This insight can be obtained by combining high-accuracy RTLS technology and low-cost proximity awareness in the appropriate areas, Yates says, and by integrating this data with that derived by existing RFID and other sensor systems.

PLUS has installed an RTLS in the RFID Lab to provide high-accuracy tracking throughout the facility. The solution includes a variety of hardware and software components, including active RTLS tags, which are worn by individuals or attached to assets, in addition to PLUS readers to receive the ultra-wideband (UWB) tag signals. The signals are processed by a suite of software applications to provide accurate, real-time locations, analyze the movements and interactions of tags, and provide access to the location data via a variety of dashboards, reports and application programming interfaces (APIs), according to PLUS. Additional Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons, app-based mobile devices and safety system elements will be added in the near future, the company reports. Faculty members at Auburn University will use the system to conduct research in the areas of warehousing and distribution, manufacturing and processing, hospitality, sports, emergency and military, and workplace and workforce. Additionally, the system will be demonstrated during regular tours of the RFID Lab, available by appointment.

Having the PLUS systems installed throughout the RFID Lab, Patton says, will enable its staff and students to study and characterize the activities and utilization of personnel and assets across a broad spectrum of use cases. The lab maintains a growing list of research projects that the PLUS solution will enable, he adds, resulting in new insights related to technology integration and the optimization of data collection and analysis tools and processes.

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