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RFID Helps to Identify and Protect Motorcycles

Datatag's MASTER Security Scheme identification system is being used to protect mid-sized motorcycles from theft in the United Kingdom, while city police departments are considering use of the technology for smaller road bikes.
By Claire Swedberg

The technology is designed to uniquely identify each motorcycle and many of its parts. Every bike is provided with a tamper-evident warning label attached to its frame, near the vehicle identification number on the right-hand side. The label displays a MASTER Security Scheme unique number, along with a QR code. Using a smartphone to scan the QR code produces information about the motorcycle's make, model and registration number, as well as whether or not there is any police interest in that bike (in other words, if there is reason to suspect it has been stolen). This data is all stored in Datalog's software, hosted on its own server.

If there is, in fact, police interest in the vehicle, the user can view information indicating how to contact the police to learn more. In that way, potential buyers could use the QR code to confirm that a bike has not been stolen, and whether it is properly identified—such as the correct make and model, as indicated by the ID number—before completing a transaction.

There are several LF RFID tags attached to each bike in various locations. The tags were designed and manufactured by a third-party specifically for this purpose, Luscombe explains. "Datatag uses secure RFID tags with unique hexadecimal numbers permanently lasered [laser-printed] into their integrated circuit during production," he states. This process, he explains, "gives us an excellent read range for a passive transponder" that operates at low-frequency.

Each tag's unique ID number links to the specific motorcycle's ID information in Datatag's software, residing on its own database. Police officers and some dealers are equipped with a Datatag RFID reader that can be used to interrogate the tags.

If an officer finds a motorcycle that may arouse his or her suspicion, he or she can view the label indicating MASTER Security Scheme technology is present. The officer can hold the RFID reader within about 6 to 12 inches of the tags on the bike to learn details, including whether the motorcycle has been reported stolen, and whether its description matches the make and model of the vehicle to which the tags are attached. The reader captures the unique ID number and forwards it to the software via a cellular connection, and the resulting data is then displayed on the reader screen. This provides more automated access to data than the scan of a QR code, the company reports.

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