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RFID Systems Integrator Lets Small Businesses Try Before They Buy

By offering to refund hardware and software costs, Applied Computer Technologies believes it can entice companies that had previously considered the technology out of their price range.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 01, 2011A company that provides a variety of services to health organizations affiliated with the Stony Brook University School of Medicine recently carried out a pilot of radio frequency identification, thanks to a low-cost, low-risk program offered by Applied Computer Technologies (ACT), a local systems integrator. Although the system was ultimately uninstalled, the pilot was considered a success by all parties involved, demonstrating a way to market RFID solutions to small and midsize firms that had previously considered the technology outside their price range.

The company's IT department retrieves computers, printers and other electronic equipment from three locations, for servicing or storage. In late 2010, it sought a solution that would let it automatically record when computers left one of those sites and later returned to that same location, thereby providing an electronic log of the equipment's movements.

The pilot's purpose, says Blake Benz, the company's information technology director, was to prove the technology works. "We were testing RFID to see if it could help us better track our equipment," states Benz, who requests that his company not be named.

ACT, based in nearby Holtsville, N.Y., offered Benz's firm an affordable way to test the technology—made possible, in part, through the use of low-cost RFID software provided by RFIdeaWorks Corp. The agreement enabled the Stony Brook organization to try the hardware and software, and then to return it at the end of the two-month pilot, paying only for labor.

At its customer's service location, ACT installed an Alien Technology ALR 9900 stationary reader and four antennas at the building's entranceway, and also provided approximately 100 RFID tags to be applied to computers. RFIdeaWorks' RFIdirector software, which acts as middleware for filtering and collecting data from RFID reads and transmitting the information to back-end software systems, was installed on a notebook computer wired to the reader. ACT also provided a Motorola 9090-G RFID handheld reader for the Stony Brook staff to take to various locations as they picked up or delivered electronic equipment. In this case, the handheld's Geiger counter function could help Benz's employees locate a specific computer or other tagged device.

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