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Portable Technology Solutions Releases ClearStream Software

The solution aims to make it easy for users to manage fixed EPC Gen 2 UHF RFID readers, and to read and write data encoded on tags and then store that information on a PC.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 09, 2012Portable Technology Solutions (PTS), a mobile-data-collection solutions provider based in Calverton, N.Y., believes that radio frequency identification technology has remained out of reach for many small or midsize companies due to the cost of the infrastructure—especially the software—used to capture and interpret read data. To address this issue, the company has released its ClearStream RFID software, intended to make fixed RFID reader technology affordable to any user with a computer, an interrogator and tags. The system enables a user to plug a reader into a PC, capture read data and store that information in the form of Microsoft Excel, SQL or MS Access files. The ClearStream software currently operates only with fixed readers provided by Motorola Solutions.

PTS was launched in April 2000, in order to provide software for mobile data collection—initially for scanning bar codes. The firm then broadened its product offerings to support RFID technology, using its TracerPlus software, now on Version 7, which serves as data-collection software for handheld readers. The company currently has more than 10,000 bar-code- or RFID-using customers utilizing its TracerPlus software, which has provided support for the use of readers plugged into mobile devices since Version 5, released in 2009. PTS' RFID-using customers include a housing complex that employs the system to perform asset audits room by room, by having an employee walk through each unit equipped with a handheld. A carpeting company is using RFID tags on carpet samples within its showroom to management inventory as those samples enter and exit the showroom as sales representatives bring them to customers. In another case, a business shipping audio/visual (A/V) equipment is tagging items as they are packed into shipping crates, and then reading the tags through the closed containers while performing inventory checks or confirming a crate's contents.

ClearStream's user interface is designed to simplify the encoding and reading of EPC Gen 2 passive UHF RFID tags.

To view a larger version of the above image, click here.

However, says Dan Peluso, Portable Technology Solutions' chief technology officer, some RFID end users sought a solution that would provide automated data via fixed rather than handheld readers. The resulting ClearStream solution aims to make it easy to install RFID systems utilizing fixed readers. "It provides read data onto a database that they would configure," Peluso says, "and it can be done in a couple of minutes."

The technology currently works only with Motorola fixed readers—including the FX7400, FX9500 and XR450 models—but during the next year or so, Peluso notes, the system is anticipated to support most fixed UHF RFID interrogators.

An end user would install the RFID reader and antennas, plug them into a PC's USB port or establish a network connection, and then install the ClearStream software, which can operate on a PC running Windows XP, 2000, Vista, 7, Server 2003 or Server 2008. The user can then open the software and begin viewing all readers connected to that PC or network. The software will prompt that user to assign a name to each reader (such as Southwest Warehouse or Dock Door #1), thereby indicating where the reading is taking place, and to then drag those reader identifiers to their own files—such as Excel or Word files—for the data destination.

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