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RFID Brings Breast Cancer Awareness to Facebook

Participants in Susan G. Komen for the Cure's three-day, 60-mile events wear EPC Gen 2 RFID tags that link to Facebook pages, to update friends and family members about their progress.
By Claire Swedberg
Aug 24, 2012For the past few years, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a nonprofit organization focused on eliminating breast cancer, has been holding 60-mile three-day walks intended to raise funds and awareness in the United States regarding breast cancer and early detection. This year, thousands of Susan G. Komen 3-Day participants are sharing their progress during the events with friends and family members, via a radio frequency identification solution that links them to their Facebook pages.

At each three-day, 60-mile event, hundreds or thousands of participants walk to raise awareness about breast cancer, and money to help cure the disease. The RFID-based solution—a Bank of America initiative produced for the Komen foundation—was provided by Qnectus, a cloud-centric technology company headquartered in Newark, Del., with offices in Boston and New York City.

Dustin Sterkenburg, Qnectus' VP of engineering
To date, the system has been deployed for the three-day walks in Boston, Cleveland, Chicago and the greater Detroit area. Additional walks are scheduled throughout the country on a weekly basis. In each case, a participant simply passes over reader antennas located at the starting and finishing lines, thereby triggering a posting on his or her Facebook site announcing that person's participation in the walk and its efforts to support breast cancer survivors in finding a cure.

Qnectus specializes in software and custom services, such as hosting desktops, applications and servers. This installation, says Dustin Sterkenburg, Qnectus' VP of engineering, is the company's first RFID-based solution. "We have seen some of the creative uses [for RFID]," he says, "and decided to incorporate the technology in our latest project for Komen."

The solution consists of several stations, each of which includes a laptop, a durable, weather-resistant RFID reader and antennas. Each station reads tags as walkers pass by, and transmits the tag IDs to a cloud-based server, via a cellular 4G connection, where data is linked to Facebook. Every station also comes with a GPS module, to provide a real-time view into that station's location and operability.

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