RFID Guides Employees at Company Parking Lots

By Claire Swedberg

A system provided by Taiwan's Yoke Int'l-Com Corp. directs drivers to the appropriate parking spaces, illuminating their walk from the lot to the office.

image_pdfimage_print

Several Asian companies are installing an RFID-based solution to manage their parking lots that will instruct staff members where to park, help them find available spaces and light their way through the lots during dark days or evenings. The system, supplied by Taiwanese RFID solutions provider Yoke Int’l-Com Corp.—commonly known as Yoke RFID—employs active RFID tags that can be carried by employees or attached to their vehicles, and is designed to provide not only lighting control and parking instruction, but also access control and historical records of workers’ arrival and departure times. To date, one firm—which has asked to remain unnamed—has installed the system at its Taipei location, where it has approximately 1,000 spaces in which staff members and visitors can park their cars before entering the office. That solution has been in place since January 2011. About five additional companies intend to install the system in Taiwan and Mainland China by the end of next year, says Wilson Ting, Yoke’s marketing director.

Yoke RFID displayed the technology at its booth at Taitronics 2011, the 37th Taipei International Electronics Trade Show, being held this week.

With the system, a company provides each employee with a battery-powered 2.45 GHz Yoke RFID tag that is approximately the size of a credit card, but measures about one-third inch thick. The tag includes an RFID chip and an antenna, which transmits its proprietary air-interface protocol transmission.

Yoke’s RFID readers, which can interrogate tags at a distance of up to 80 meters (262 feet), are then installed throughout a parking lot. To make location tracking more precise, the system includes repeaters equipped with both RFID technology and LED lights, which are then mounted above every parking space. Each repeater has a built-in active 2.45 GHz RFID transponder, as well as a blue LED light used to illuminate a parking space.

As an individual arrives at the parking lot at the start of a work shift, a reader located at the lot’s entrance captures the tag’s ID number—which the tag transmits 120 times per minute—and Yoke RFID software forwards that information to data-management software that interprets and stores data culled from every RFID read. Typically, the user’s software links the tag’s ID number with that person’s ID or name. Yoke RFID can also provide such management software, Ting says, which can sit on a user’s database or on a hosted Web-based server. In the case of the first deployment, at the lot in Taipei, the firm has acquired data-management software from a local Taipei systems integrator.

If the software determines that an arriving employee is authorized to enter the lot at that time, it triggers the lot’s gate to open. The software also stores a time stamp indicating when that individual arrived, says Ruby Lin, Yoke’s marketing manager. A screen at the entrance then directs that person to the appropriate parking area within the lot.

The system sends instructions to the repeater located at the space to which the individual is assigned, illuminating its LED. That light shines over the assigned parking space until that person pulls his car into that space. Readers capture the ID of that employee’s tag and determine that the car has been parked appropriately. That data is then saved in the system.

The individual can then leave the badge within the car, or take it with him. If he decides to take it, the system will then detect the badge’s movement and issue instructions to the parking lot lighting, thereby illuminating the lamps directly within that individual’s vicinity (during dark hours) as he walks to the building entrance. The same process occurs when the badge wearer exits the building and walks toward his car.

In the event that the user leaves the building and can not recall where he parked, a Yoke kiosk installed at the doorway also contains a built-in RFID reader. The individual can hold the tag near the reader and request the location of his vehicle’s parking space, which will then be provided on the kiosk screen.

Yoke also manufactures other types of RFID hardware, including the 13.56 MHz passive tags commonly used by Taiwanese commuters traveling via public transit. The company provides the RFID technology utilized on Taipei’s mass rapid transit (MRT) underground rail system, as well as Taiwan’s high-speed rail, and is currently in the process of supplying tags and readers for use on the nation’s highway systems as the island converts the toll-payment technology from infrared to active RFID transmission.

The parking-lot technology, Lin says, can be merged with the public-transit tag, which employs NXP Semiconductors‘ Mifare chips to transmit a unique ID linked to a user’s prepaid transit account. That Mifare-based tag can be built into the 2.4 GHz RFID badge that companies would provide to workers who park within their lots. However, Lin notes, this has not yet been implemented.