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RFID Captures Each Time Guests Throw in the Towel

A passive UHF RFID system from Towel Tracker enables health clubs, hotels and other businesses to track towels or other objects borrowed and returned, thereby reducing the loss of those items.
By Claire Swedberg
The Towel Tracker device can store up to 250 to 300 clean towels, depending on a towel's size, and can also store robes or other items. If someone needs to access the clean towel compartment, he or she must first present an ID card or badge. In the case of Avi Resort and Casino, an employee badge is required for staff members, or a room key for hotel guests. The Towel Tracker device can read bar-coded or mag-stripe cards, as well as those containing RFID inlays. Once a card's ID has been read or scanned, Towel Tracker software loaded on a computer built into the machine interprets that ID, and also forwards that number via a cabled or Wi-Fi connection to the back-end Towel Tracker software. In the software, the card ID is linked to that person's account, enabling the system to identify whether he or she is authorized to access the towels.

If authorization is confirmed, the machine releases the door's locking mechanism, and the user can simply open the door and remove a towel. Every towel comes with a rubber-encapsulated EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag provided by Fujitsu Frontech North America. When a towel is removed and the door is again closed, the reader no longer interrogates that particular towel's ID, and its status is updated in the software to indicate that it was taken. In that way, the system can monitor which towels that individual removed.

Avi Resort and Casino's Jay Johnson
Once finished working out or swimming, the guest can toss the soiled towels into the Towel Tracker's second compartment, as instructed on signage on the device's front, and the reader again captures the tag ID, updating the software to indicate that the towel has been returned.

At Avi Resort and Casino, the software integrates with the resort-management system, enabling the hotel to store data regarding the number of towels used by each guest, as well as whether they were returned. Thus, if a visitor fails to return a towel, the resort can bill that person accordingly upon checkout.

In addition, the software can send messages to housekeeping employees when the number of towels within the device becomes low enough that replacement is required. A notice appears on a dashboard displayed on a computer screen, and can also be sent via text message or e-mail to the housekeeping staff's cell phones.

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