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Precyse Technologies' RFID System Uses Beacons to Extend Reach

The company's iLocate technology enables companies to track assets in remote sites, by deploying multiple beacons that allow an RFID reader to communicate with battery-powered tags thousands of feet away.
By Claire Swedberg
The system can also employ triangulation if a user wants to pinpoint a more exact location. In this case, the beacons are more closely placed, depending on the accuracy required, and when a tag receives transmission from several beacons at once, it sends that data to the interrogator, which passes it on to the server. Software on the server utilizes that information to triangulate a more precise tag location, within a few feet. Some users, Blackburn says, choose to mix the options with the longer-range solution, with beacons spread hundreds of feet apart outside and triangulation employed inside a building or in other places where their exact location is more critical. Users can add beacons as necessary, to increase location accuracy without making other infrastructure changes.

If sensors are added to the system, Smart Agent tags can be employed to track details about an asset, such as a vehicle's fuel level, mileage or engine function. If someone attempts to steal an asset, or to steal fuel from that asset, the tag can be instructed to transmit an alert to the user, based on data from sensors such as a drop in fuel level, or the start of an engine's ignition. The infrastructure savings, Eizenberg claims, compared with a traditional RFID solution involving multiple readers, amount to thousands of dollars, depending on the size of the installation. Each beacon typically costs about $350, while a reader costs several thousand dollars. Tag price can vary from $55 for a single tag to $15 per tag in quantities above 50,000.

Blackburn says he has been providing the system for the past year, and that his customers—which asked not to be named—are using it at remote locations, as well as for temporary asset tracking. "There aren't many tags I've come across that have this kind of flexibility," he states. "I can walk out to a customer with a product that needs to be tracked where there is no power. You can pound wooden stakes into the ground, attach beacons, use a battery- or solar-powered reader, and you can start reading."

Some of Blackburn's clients, he adds, are tracking their vehicles' efficiency by monitoring the mileage and fuel levels remotely. This is accomplished by wiring the RFID tags to sensors, or odometers, as well as by tracking when the vehicles need to be serviced.

Precyse offers iLocate middleware that provides the central database and location services. Users typically utilize their own legacy software systems to then manage the RFID data. In some cases, Eizenberg says, iLocate also provides an asset-tracking server that includes a map interface, reporting tools and dashboards.

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