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RFID Climbs Mountains in Italian Alps

Veglia-Devero Nature Park is using active UHF tags to provide hikers with video and audio media explaining the site's features.
By Claire Swedberg
Visitors were provided with a handheld PDA fitted with an Identec Solutions i-Card CF-350 RFID reader. The park used a total of 10 handhelds, each containing videos, photographs and audio media provided by Demetra and linked, via Demetra's software, to each tag's ID number. Eachreader, upon coming within range of a marker tag on the trail, captured that tag's ID and began playing the visual and audio media related to that particular location, says Paola Visentin, Softwork's marketing and communication manager. The material was available in English, German and Italian. The handheld device itself, encased in a protective casing, could be carried in a person's hand, or worn around the neck on a lanyard. For those with mountain bikes, the handheld could be attached to a bracket on the bike itself.

An Identec Solutions i-B2 RFID tag was screwed into a recess cut into each post.
The Demetra back-end RFID software enabled park employees to personalize each mobile device's language before handing it to a particular visitor, by plugging the reader into a PC loaded with that software and selecting one of the three available languages.

At the end of the visit, each hiker returned his or her handheld, which was again plugged into the PC to upload data regarding how that device was used—for example, which trails were visited (based on which tags were read) and which language was selected. A report about the media content could then be printed as a souvenir for the tourist, Villa explains.

In addition, Demetra installed panels along the path that released scents when touched—the smell of a larch or fir tree, yarrow or oregano, for instance.

The system was removed in October to protect the tags from winter weather, and is slated to be reinstalled in April of this year. "The whole area is covered by snow from October to April," Visentin states.

Demetra's Gabriele Villa
Demetra may design similar Didà systems in the future, Villa says, for use in other public applications, such as providing data to the visually or hearing impaired around hospitals, theaters, cinemas and restaurants. "The main aim of this project [whether in the park, or in other locations] is to help facilitate the daily loves of people with hearing and visual impairments," he explains.

Comparable installations using passive RFID tags have been launched elsewhere in Europe, such as in the Czech Republic (see Czech Monks Look to RFID for Guidance, France (see < link http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/view/7262 Centre Pompidou Hopes NFC Will Draw Teens to Art>) and Austria (see NFC Research Lab Rolls Out Smart Posters).

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