I teach mathematics and physics at an Illinois school, and am interested in developing a system to track students for attendance purposes, when they leave a room for the bathroom or with a pass, and so forth. Are you familiar with any solutions of this type? Currently, my assets include an iPad and Mac computers. I am very new to RFID technology, but from what I do know, it seems like it would be easy to tag each student and avoid all of the sign-in and sign-out procedures that teachers must undergo on an hourly basis. Any help would be appreciated.
There are a variety of radio frequency identification technologies that have been employed to track students. Passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags are inexpensive, but not always reliable, as the human body can block radio waves from reaching a reader. And passive high-frequency (HF) tags require that students present their card to an interrogator, which they often forget to do.
Active technologies seem to be a better solution. For example, Shorewood High School located, near Milwaukee, Wis., is employing active RFID tags that communicate via the ZigBee protocol to enable students and teachers to send an alert if they feel threatened (see Wisconsin High School Gets Help Alert).
If your school has a Wi-Fi system already installed, Wi-Fi-based RFID transponders might be a good option. You would likely need to add extra access points in order to be able to pinpoint each student's location accurately enough to determine that he or she was within a specific room. Wi-Fi tags can be pricey, however—$50 or more apiece—so this could get expensive if you have a large student population.
The best option would be to work with a skilled systems integrator that can choose the most appropriate technology for your specific needs, given the size and layout of your school, the number of students and so on.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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