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Active RFID Tracks Conditions for Exhibits Worldwide

Fortecho Solutions' 433 MHz-based technology ensures the best conditions for artwork at five of the largest art institutes in the world, as well as mobile and private collections, leveraging RFID transmission technology from Wavetrend.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 09, 2018

When Ohio State University's Wexner Center opened its "Transfigurations" public exhibition, featuring the art collection of the building's namesake, Leslie H. Wexner, it armed the exhibit with an active RFID solution. The system was provided by technology integration company Fortecho Solutions, using active 433 MHz technology from Wavetrend.

The technology employs acceleromter sensors to detect any handling by the public or other factors that could put valuable artwork at risk. That installation was completed in 2014, and hundreds of other deployments of the same solution are now in place across 36 countries—at art institutes and museums, in private and corporate collections, and with travelling exhibits.

The London Science Museum has tagged its art collection with RFID technology.
Fortecho Solutions has been a security pioneer since the 1990s, says James Sainty, the firm's commercial lead. It has been offering active RFID-based asset monitoring for nearly as long, working with Wavetrend's sensor hardware. The active tags, which have gained functionality throughout the years, transmit data to 433 MHz receivers, using a proprietary air-interface protocol, explains Roger Biggs, Wavetrend's managing director.

To combat the threat of environmental damage, theft or vandalism attempts, most art institutions deploy wired or wireless art-protection systems. Fortecho's wireless solution offers several unique features, Sainty reports, including the ability to be integrated with the existing management software of a museum or other customer, as well as wireless sensors that offer a battery lifetime of about seven years. That long battery life can be significant, he says, for users who might not have the resources necessary to remove artwork from walls or display cases in order to check and replace batteries on an annual basis. In fact, Sainty notes, for the longest-lived battery-powered system offered by competitors, those batteries must be replaced approximately every 18 months.

The Wavetrend sensors are credit-card-sized devices that transmit data to receivers at a distance of up to 200 meters (656 feet). They come with built-in accelerometers and tamper-detection capability, and can also be supplied with temperature- and humidity-detection functionality.

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