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Digital Angel Announces Active Tags for Livestock
The company's new r.Tag has a 100-foot read range, making it possible for a meat producer to not only identify hundreds of animals simultaneously, but also pinpoint their locations.
To increase location granularity, an external antenna can be mounted and linked to the reader through coaxial cable. This enables users to pinpoint a tag's whereabouts to within a few feet of accuracy, Sullivan says. When this secondary antenna is not used, the location of any particular r.Tag can be narrowed down only to within a 100-foot radius of a given reader.
Each system will also require one receiver, which acts as an aggregator of data from the distributed network of readers in the field, and which can be connected to a laptop via a USB port. Users could then link the tag data to a database management system, such as that offered by Global Animal Management.
Destron Fearing is still setting costs for the system, Sullivan says, which will be generally available in mid-2009. However, he notes, the tags will likely cost roughly $3.50 apiece. The reader will be priced between $75 and $100, while the external antenna is expected to cost $50. The receiver will also run between $75 and $100.
When asked about possible applications for the r.Tag, Sullivan proposes two uses that today's passive tags are unable to support. In one scenario, a rancher would place interrogators, with external antennas, near water and food sources within a large field. Over time, ranchers could then harvest, from the main tag database, the identities of individual cattle or other livestock making fewer approaches to the water or food. Because decreased interest in food and water is indicative of a health problem, the workers could then physically examine the animals that seldom visit these monitored areas, in order to assess whether they are ill. "This could also be important for being able to quickly quarantine animals struck with a contagious virus," he adds.
Additionally, Sullivan says, the r.Tag platform is useful for animal auctions. At such auctions, entire truckloads of livestock arrive at and move through different zones. This would save significant time over the use of passive tag technology, since the animals would need to be approached individually using a handheld reader, or moved through a narrow gate in order to be inventoried onsite.
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