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Treehouse Labs Unveils iPhone RFID System for Locating People and Things
The solution consists of application software, active tags and an RFID reader built into a case that snaps onto the phone. In the future, the tags could be combined with sensors to monitor such things as an athlete's concussion risk.
The second option involves locating a person, animal or thing. For example, the user would first select the icon or photo for that item, such as a set of car keys, and the BiKN software would determine which ID number was linked to that object, search for a transmission from its tag, and use signal-strength and time-of-flight calculations to determine approximately how far that object was from the phone. The software would then prompt the tag to emit an audible alert, and also indicate on the phone's screen the item's distance from that phone. As the phone approached that tag, the system would update the location status, showing the tag's current distance from the phone in feet, for example, as well as graphically depicting the keys and phone, and how far they were from each other.
The third option would be to use the system as a leash, by setting up a perimeter around the phone indicating how far items or people could move away from that phone. For example, if a child or pet wearing an RFID tag were to walk too far away, the phone and the tag would both emit an audible alert. The read range is 100 to 150 meters (328 to 492 feet).
The smart case and tags all come with their own rechargeable batteries. By default, the tags and case send out a beacon at a rate of once every four seconds, but the rates are configurable to improve battery life with less frequent beacons, or to enable quicker tag-location updates by beaconing more frequently. The case battery can be recharged at the same time that the iPhone is being recharged (it can, however, operate even if the iPhone's battery is dead). Typically, the smart case reader must be recharged every two weeks. The phone application indicates if a specific tag will soon need to be recharged by being plugged into a USB port. Cutler estimates that a tag can be used for three weeks before its battery will require recharging.
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