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Wooden-Flooring Companies Embed RFID Tags Beneath Parquet

The semi-passive UHF tags contain temperature and humidity sensors that can verify the flooring was properly installed and maintained.
By Rhea Wessel
Mar 31, 2009Jilg Parkett has been laying wooden floorings (or parquet) in homes, commercial buildings, museums and palaces across Austria for decades. Like all companies in the parquet business, each contract the firm wins represents not only an opportunity, but also a risk that may not materialize until years after a floor is laid.

Many flooring companies are under pressure to keep projects on schedule and thus avoid penalties, and this can lead to sloppy work or negligence. Because it costs a lot to buy wooden flooring and have it installed, customers of flooring companies may be quick to file lawsuits if the floor buckles, cracks or otherwise becomes uneven. As such, a flooring company and its customers often end up meeting again in court, with one party blaming the other. Jilg Parkett's owner, Helmut Jilg, has often served as an expert witness in such cases.

The fidbox interrogator from Jilg Parkett
Given the risks of lawsuits for his company and others, Jilg decided in 2004 to develop the fidbox (floor identification box), a tool for measuring floor temperature, timber moisture and subsoil humidity over extended periods of time. Such data can be used, in the event of a claim, to help determine which party is at fault.

The fidbox measures 150 by 45 by 6 millimeters (5.9 by 1.8 by 0.2 inches) and weighs 56 grams (2 ounces), and contains a semi-passive 869 MHz ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag conforming to the ISO 18000-6B standard. The device also contains sensors that periodically measure the temperature and humidity in the floor above and the subfloor below, then transmits that information to standard readers via RFID.

Measurements are performed at user-defined intervals—usually every eight hours—for as long as 10 years. To measure humidity and temperature, the fidbox wakes up, takes the measurements and then goes back to sleep, thereby preserving battery life. If the sensors record data outside the predefined parameters, the fidbox will collect information at more frequent intervals. This data can then be used to show the environmental conditions around the floor and, if necessary, to establish quality assurance or to settle warranty claims.

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