We own an ice and roller rink. Patrons leave their coats in our storage room, which can only fit a single attendant. We place tickets with sequential numbers, from one to 1,000, on the items. It's very time-consuming to check every ticket in order to find the right item, so we often have lines of people waiting to retrieve coats. If we implement radio frequency identification to locate items that are located only inches away (sometimes on top of each other), could the system find them to within a few inches, at which time the attendant would then be able to simply look at the ticket's number? That would be very helpful. Also, does it matter if the tags are facing up, down or backwards? Would the reader still be able to detect them, no matter how they were oriented?
Motorola offers the MC9090-G handheld RFID reader, which has a function allowing a user to search for a specific ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag. You would simply enter the serial number of the specific tag you wanted to find, and the device would beep as it got closer to the transponder with that particular number. You could use two tags with the same ID number, and then give one to the customer and clip the other onto the garment. You would have to make a small adjustment to the reader's software, however, to enable an attendant to read the customer's tag and find another tag with the same ID. I'm sure one of Motorola's partners could help you with that.
The system could enable you to locate an item to within a few inches. Tag orientation would be mostly irrelevant, though the attendant might have to orient the handheld's antenna in different directions in order to ensure a read. Since the transponders could be embedded in plastic tags, they would be reusable, so the hardware would not cost an arm and a leg. I think RFID could definitely solve your problem.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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