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TagMaster's New Tag Is Programmable Via a Cable Connection

Developed specifically for use by the railway industry, the CableTag can be wired to an external system so its memory can be dynamically updated with new data.
By Beth Bacheldor
Nov 05, 2008TagMaster, a Swedish manufacturer of RFID solutions for rail and transportation applications, has debuted a new tag designed for the metro, light-rail and mainline rail systems.

The S1470 CableTag is a heavy-duty, 2.45 GHz semi-passive tag that uses a proprietary air-interface protocol. But unlike the company's other semi-passive tags that can communicate only via a wireless RF signal, the CableTag can also be connected via a cable (using an RS485 serial communication interface) to external systems onboard a train, such as units that control the train's movements, or those that manage driver and route information. The CableTag can also be connected to track-side systems, such as signaling or traffic-management systems.

"CableTag utilizes the cable connection to allow its data memory to be dynamically updated by the external system it's connected to. It also receives its power source via the same cable," says Richard Holt, director of transportation at TagMaster, which is headquartered in Stockholm and was founded in 1994.

Most rail tags are used simply to identify the trains to which they are attached. But many firms would like to be able to transfer real-time information beyond a train's identification. Because the tag's programmable memory—which can store up to 574 bits of data—can be dynamically updated via the cable, more information can be passed to and from the train by communicating with an interrogator installed along the train tracks, or at a station. Onboard systems can communicate with the CableTag regarding new arrival times, for instance, and that information can then be passed from the CableTag to a track-side reader.

Conversely, the CableTag can be mounted along a track and the reader installed on a train, thus enabling a track-side system to share information with that train. For example, updated routing information from a traffic management system can be communicated to the track-mounted CableTag, and a train-mounted reader can capture that data as the train passes. The interrogator can then share that route information with the onboard system that manages such data.

The CableTag's ability to automatically capture information, then update onboard and track-side systems with that data, can replace the more manual-intensive processes currently in use. By automating these functions, the level of operational efficiency and reliability can thus be improved.

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