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RFID-enabled Device Sounds an Alarm When Someone Tries to Leave Home

The PureRFid Companion system, sold to consumers, is designed to trigger alerts when a person with dementia nears a doorway.
By Claire Swedberg
The alarm device comes with one or more wristbands, each encoded with a unique ID number also programmed into the door alarm. A Companion door alarm recognizes only the wristband tags with which it is sold, so Companion tags packaged with a different unit would not trigger an alarm. The door alarm features an infrared emitter that creates an IR field across the doorway. If the device's RFID reader captures a nearby wristband's ID number, it will sound an 85-decibel continuous alarm, says Jason Clute, PureRFid's technical services manager—but only if it senses that someone is actually walking through the IR field. (The purpose of this function is to prevent the issuance of false alerts.) The device continues to emit an alert until the tag moves beyond the read range.

The door alarm can be configured by a user to compensate for different circumstances within a particular home. The received signal strength indication (RSSI) threshold can be set to a different level, for instance, thereby increasing or decreasing the read range. This may be necessary in a household in which, for example, a chair is located near the front door and the wristband wearer often sits in that chair, in close proximity to the alarm.

PureRFid also intends to launch a similar product for nursing homes and other facilities, known as Companion Plus. That version would employ an RFID interrogator instead of a door alarm, and would support the use of multiple readers connected to a network, to monitor a larger number of individuals and doorways. In this case, a software package would accompany the Companion Plus product that could be installed on the user's PC, with readers connected to the PC via Ethernet cables that plug into to a box connected to the computer via a USB port.

In this case, if an individual walks through the doorways, the interrogator would not emit an audible alarm. Instead, the system could be set up to issue a text message or page to specified staff members. According to the company, the release date of this product has not yet been set.

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