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RFID Readers Fit Like a Glove With New Atlas RFID Release

The UHF reading device serves as a ring to fit over two fingers, even over a glove, so that workers can free up their hands at construction sites, warehouses or storage areas as they read tags.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 11, 2017

RFID use at construction sites helps workers and management to collect and view information regarding the equipment, assets or inventory that moves around their work sites. But when handheld devices are used to collect that data, workers can lose one important tool: a free hand.

Atlas RFID Solutions offers a wearable ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID reader that helps workers keep their hands free when they interrogate tags on the goods they handle, or that are within their vicinity. The reader, from Technology Solutions (UK) Ltd. (TSL), is worn on the back of a user's hand, in the form of a ring over two fingers, enabling individuals to have full use of both hands while also reading tags.

The reader is worn as a ring on the back of a person's hand.
Atlas RFID is marketing the product for its industrial construction customers, says Jeff Burns, Atlas RFID Solutions' associate hardware product manager. Ruggedized handheld readers are needed in such scenarios, Burns says, but are cumbersome for workers. Altas is a software and solutions company that, since 2011, has been selling its Jovix material-readiness application for builders of factories, oil and gas rigs, and oil drill sites. Traditionally, its services include a software platform and mobile apps to manage data from active RFID to manage high-value assets at work sites, in warehouses or in laydown yards.

Jovix technology provides users with location information, as well as reports indicating where their assets are located. This includes at which site and the location within that site, which can be linked to that item's maintenance and other records. But during the past year or so, the company has been providing customers with more hybrid solutions that incorporate both passive and active RFID, depending on the particular asset being tracked. For instance, passive RFID tags can be attached to lower-value items that do not require real-time location, but rather could be identified within zones.

Atlas RFID uses third-party manufacturers for its active or passive RFID technology, including a variety of passive RFID tags, depending on the form factor and material of goods being tagged. Some of its customers have installed fixed RFID portal readers for passive tag tracking, as well as installing RFID readers on forklifts and other vehicles. But in some cases, gates and vehicles do not offer sufficient visibility, especially if RFID-tagged items are stored in a corner, behind other items, so that they are difficult to reach.

Atlas provides handheld RFID readers that can be lower in cost and more mobile than a fixed RFID gate or forklift reader, but these can provide ergonomic problems for users. Often, the company explains, users may unload a crate or box, stop, pick up a handheld reader, pull the trigger to read tag IDs, and then put it down again. "We have a holster option," Burns says, but that, too, can be clunky since the handheld isn't small, yet still requires individuals to have a hand free to remove it from the holster.

Burns says the company has been watching technology evolve, with some bar-code scanners being built into rings or glasses. "We started looking into that," he states, and the ring reader resulted.

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