Can a Smartphone Track Tools?

By RFID Journal

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Ask The ExpertsCan a Smartphone Track Tools?
RFID Journal Staff asked 8 years ago

Are there any systems that can be hooked up to my phone so I can keep tabs on my tools at a job site?

—Name withheld

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That depends on what you have in mind. If you are looking for a reader that you could attach to your phone so you could interrogate tags from a distance of 50 feet, then the answer is no. The thing to understand about cell phones is that they are small and contain small batteries. Thus, you are limited in the amount of energy available to any RFID reader that plugs into that phone. This limits the read range to a foot or less.

That said, if you simply want to identify specific tools fairly quickly via RFID and then perform inventory counts, such a solution does exist. InfoChip has developed very small, ruggedized high-frequency (HF) tags that can be embedded in metal tools. The tag measures only 4 millimeters (0.16 inch) across. The company has also developed an antenna known as the Sniper that can be attached to any Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled phone, enabling a user to read these tiny tags (see InfoChip Markets Signal-Boosting Add-on HF Antenna and RFID Phone App). In addition, the company has developed an Android application that links to cloud-based services, so you can obtain information about specific tools, such as whether they are due for routine maintenance.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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