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U Grok It Wants to Help Consumers and Small Businesses Find Their Stuff

The company has developed a system using an RFID reader plugged into a smartphone to interrogate passive UHF tags attached to items that households or businesses may misplace.
By Claire Swedberg
According to Requist, Grokker is designed to do more than just find things. For example, she says, the U Grok It app can also be employed to search for a group of items. If a particular piece of equipment needs to be packed into a gym bag, for instance, the user can wave the Grokker near that bag and view an alert on the screen indicating any object that may be absent, enabling him or her to walk around a room or house looking for the missing object. That function, she says, is also useful for business travelers when leaving home or a hotel room, to ensure that everything has been packed, and that items such as a phone charger are not left behind.

What's more, the app software can save historical data indicating which items have been searched for. All Grokker data is stored on the U Grok It hosted server, which a user can access via the mobile phone's Internet connection. In the future, Requist says, the company plans to incorporate a GPS device into each Grokker unit, in order to enable a user to store not only an item's description linked to its tag ID, but also the longitude and latitude at which that object was found or is expected to be located.


Carrie Requist, U Grok It's CEO
Because passive UHF RFID tags have a shorter read range than active tags, a user must walk through a room searching for an item until coming within 10 feet or less of that object. However, Requist says, since the U Grok It system employs passive tags, there are no tag batteries to recharge or replace. The AA batteries in the Grokker, on the other hand, would periodically require replacement, based on the amount of usage.

The Requists have yet to determine when they plan to commercially release their system. Although their firm has developed a working prototype of the Grokker, she says, it is currently in the process of manufacturing the readers. Initially, the kits will come with Alien Technology Squiggle UHF tags. Other makes and models of UHF EPC tags would also operate with the system, she notes.

In the future, Requist reports, the U Grok It system could also be used by small businesses, such as stores that may already contain tagged products but that do not want the expense of purchasing standalone handheld readers and software. In this case, a company would need to buy only the Grokker, and then use the device with its existing phones. She expects the system also to be used by students conducting RFID-related research, as well as RFID hobbyists and entrepreneurs, since it would make it possible for a user to read tags at a very low cost.

U Grok It initially plans to sell its products on its Web site, Request says, and expects to work with distributors down the line. The company is now accepting reservations on its Web site from those interested in purchasing the kits. Customers need only supply an e-mail address to be notified when the system becomes available for purchase.

USER COMMENTS

Carrie Requist 2013-12-06 01:23:14 PM
After this article was released, U Grok It changed our focus from consumer to business because businesses were demanding our smartphone RFID reader. Here is the new description http://www.rfidconnect.com/ProductDetails.aspx?id=e3a6557d-54d9-44fc-b7e8-d232b847c0fa U Grok it will be available in Q2 2014 for MSRP of $500. Contact us if you are interested in a demo connect@ugrokit.com

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