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Microsoft Australia Seeks to Boost RFID Adoption Down Under
At this week's Microsoft Tech.Ed conference in Sydney, the company plans to issue passive EPC Gen 2 inlays to some 6,000 attendees, with the goal of inspiring new RFID applications.
The conference's RFID network includes 56 fixed interrogators and 118 reader antennas, along with 25 Kenetics Windows-based mobile readers and 6,000 Gen 2 EPC tags operating at 920-926 MHz. The system, which scans a doorway every quarter of a second, can detect up to 250 people moving simultaneously though that doorway.
Information collected by antennas installed at doorways, or by mobile readers, is initially collected on a PC running BizTalk RFID Server and Windows XP. The information is then transmitted, for analysis, to a central server running Microsoft BizTalk RFID Server 2006. SQL Server Replication ensures information on the database is replicated every couple of minutes.
According to Badran, because each door has its own local system—which can be operated in isolation—information can still be collected even in the event of a network outage. "The hardest part was determining at what point in the system to introduce RFID," he says. "When we first approached Microsoft [about building the RFID network], it already had an established registration process in place through a third party. It used bar codes to identify delegates, so we simply tied RFID into the existing system and [encoded] the bar-code number onto the tag."
Breeze tested the network extensively to determine where to place the reader antennas, and which direction they should face, as well as the amount of power required. "We did our initial testing with children running randomly up and down hallways," Badran says. "Then we performed some user group testing with 300 people at Microsoft headquarters, although the actual venue is sure to present some unexpected physical challenges."
Delegates will be able to opt out or remove the RFID tag if they have privacy concerns. However, Badran says, the system can not track delegates located more than 6 meters (20 feet) from an antenna, and no names or other personally identifiable information will be displayed. "There is more information on the conference lanyard itself than is on the [RFID] tag or displayed on the screens," he notes. "The information is held securely on our system, and there is no write-back capability for the tag."
The goal of Microsoft and Breeze, according to Badran, is to enable delegates to "live the technology" and see what is possible with radio frequency identification. "RFID has primarily been dedicated to supply chains and tracking cases or pallets, so many people are close-minded about its possibilities," he says. "I want this conference to become 'RFID land,' where people can play with the technology and see its potential."
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