Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) has been used for many years in retail and libraries all across the world. In just the past few years the technological advancements have led the breakthrough to be available at hospitals and health clinics as well, with great return on investment and positive impact to quality care. The leadership at a worldwide leader in medical care was first to start experimenting three years ago and have since adopted the use of RFID to monitor everything from specimen samples to equipment to patients. RFID in health care has gone from cutting edge, new technology to well proven high impact tool in the quiver of medical automation.
Panoptic research has shown that RFID technology is not only fast and efficient, but also helps in preventing human errors in the lab. In addition due to the automation of the entire system, RFID lab sample tracking process reduces staffing, yielding rapid return to the institute.
All across the world, almost all labs deal with antiquated paper requisition of testing samples. These forms are generally handwritten and can account for a very high number of errors which can result in adverse outcome for the patient. An RFID tracking system by ODIN that is currently in place at a major medical care provider helps in reduction of errors, enables speedy results and reduces cost. In fact errors were reduced to under 1% - far below average lab error rates.
This entire RFID Lab Specimen Tracking system is quite simple and effective. The specimens collected in the procedure room have RFID tags attached to them at the bottom. They are placed at the key point on an RFID pad readers. This reader is then attached to the workstations which are operated by the clinical staff. The RFID reader identifies the tags attached to the bottom of the samples and the clinical staff updates their location and position, thus collecting the data. This data is checked for accuracy before saving it in the system. The captured data is transmitted to a backend database, which is used to efficiently track the specimen and its lifecycle throughout.
Once the sample is sent off to the pathology lab, the sample is again placed at an RFID reader which is attached to a workstation. Once the reader identifies the sample, the data is pulled up in the lab for updating. Since the data collected is completely automated, this process reduces error because it eliminates the handwritten process of the requisition form.
Among the benefits offered by ODIN’s RFID Lab Specimen Tracking are:
· High accuracy in labeling specimen – less than 1% error rate
· Increase in lab productivity – up to 5X normal productivity levels
· Decrease in time to process samples
· Nurses can focus less on paperwork and more on patients
This system not only benefits the hospitals and clinics, but also helps in providing better health care to patients across the globe.
If you are interested in adopting proven medical automation with data-backed results contact a health care expert at ODIN via email sales@ODINRFID.com and bring your lab into the 21st century.
Starting July 25, 2012, Japan will shift its UHF RFID spectrum from the traditional 952.2 - 957.4MHz range to 916.8 - 923.4MHz. This means that the entire band will fall within the current FCC approved UHF spectrum (902 – 928 MHz), which is used throughout North America. Thus, all future Japanese certified EPC Gen2 UHF RFID tags and readers will be modified to operate in the new band. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), the body that regulates the Japanese Radio Frequency Band, has made the decision after erecting the previous standard in 2002.
What’s In It for Me?
In short – Global UHF tags will work better.
Historically, “world” or “global” tags (which include most label tags and some of the newest metal mount tags) have operated from 865 - 960 MHz; that is, from the lower end of European spectrum (865.6 – 867.6 MHz) to the upper end of the Japanese Spectrum. The bandwidth they will be designed for now is about 30 MHz and 30% skinner; thus, future world tags can have greater sensitivity because their operational band need not be so great. As a result, world tags will read farther. Additionally, manufacturers, when crafting region specific tags and readers, need not devote any time to a third design (outside of the FCC and ETSI versions). For those of us with an already deployed Japanese UHF RFID Solution the news is not so great: future tag innovations and part availability will decline rapidly.
Europe’s regulatory body, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), has been investigating a similar voyage to the FCC spectrum, which could happen as soon as 2014. These developments, along with recent events such as the Impinj IPO, Avery Dennison’s prediction for 2011, the Motorola Split, the new Sirit and OEM Motorola Reader, and the shrinking number of tag manufacturers suggest a maturation of the RFID market that will pick up steam.
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“There will be a public bid for the 950 MHz band ... and there is a huge debate going on currently on the possible auctioning of the band for the first time in Japan.”
Jin Mitsugi, associate at Keio University, and member of the ministry's UHF RFID regulation development working group.
For more information on this or any other industry news contact the experts at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 703 968 0000
William H Solomon
Senior ODIN Engineer
As one of ODIN’s senior engineers, William has spearheaded the design, delivery, and management of ODIN products and clients in the fields of healthcare, aerospace, financial services, and government/military
p.s. Congrats to O's DH Chris Davis on his 17th inning win as a relief pitcher yesterday, and to Nat's OF Bryce Harper on his first career stolen base, home plate.
HF RFID technology is designed for applications requiring one meter or less communication range. The orientation of the HF tags to the reader antenna is critical and can impact communication. For optimum communication, the tag antenna should cut the magnetic field generated by the reader’s antenna. On the other hand, passive UHF RFID tags are usually powered from the electrical energy emitted by the reader through electromagnetic backscatter coupling. Read ranges of several meters are possible and orientation of the tag to the reader antenna is not critical with a well-designed tag.
Prior to 2005-2007, the medical industry preferred HF technology over UHF because:
- HF was best suited for tagging liquids
- HF was best suited for item level tagging
- Manufacturing lines for HF technology were well established
But capabilities of UHF have changed over the years - well-established standards and large-scale mandates by Wal-Mart and DoD drove the adoption towards UHF. These large adoptions brought R&D funding and improvements in manufacturing and tag conversion lines. This influx of resources and funding helped UHF RFID technology overcome most of the challenges mentioned above. Today, UHF tags can work on metals (metal mount tags) and liquids (near field UHF technology) at a cost of under half of typical HF labels (under $0.15 for UHF labels vs $0.35-0.50 for HF labels).
As a result, most medical device manufacturers now apply UHF RFID tags on implants, stents, catheters, etc., at the point of manufacturing and benefit from supply chain visibility, tracking expiration dates and recalls, minimizing out of stock conditions and planning manufacturing based on market needs. Medical device manufacturers use ODIN’s EasyKit solutions with EasyTunnel, EasyCabinet and EasyRack hardware systems to track devices from manufacturing to distribution. Healthcare facilities can then use ODIN’s EasySpecimen to track parts and samples using the same tags. With UHF RFID, inventory can be tracked automatically in real time in hospitals and point of use. Hospitals, distributors and suppliers experience many benefits including:
- Viewing inventory at hospitals in real time
- Automatic alerting for expired inventory
- Track consigned inventory consumption by person automatically
- Lock down the cabinet remotely in the case of a recall
- Manage inventory security
When selecting any RFID enabled solution for healthcare applications, consider the following keys to success:
- Material Dependency: How well does the RFID solution perform when reading tags applied on metal, liquid, or polymer, etc. products?
- Orientation Sensitivity: How well does the solution read RFID tagged items placed in random orientations?
- Null Spot: Are there any null-spots where a tag will not be read?
- Product Density: How well does the solution capture large populations of tagged items?
UHF RFID successfully meets these above keys to success. HF requires tags to be placed in defined orientations or may require multiple tags to achieve higher read accuracy and only works well on non-metal devices.
ODIN VP EngineeringChetan is ODIN's VP Engineering and has led the company's RFID research and development programs for the past seven years
This is the second in a two part blog about RFID for Asset Tracking. Part one of the RFID blog explained a simple five step process for building an RFID Asset Tracking proof of concept (POC). Our goal is to get those "bar code losers" stuck in the 70s into the next century. We want to make you cool again, and keep you from losing assets and failing audits. RFID can deliver and ODIN is the coolest company in RFID so if anyone can give you the celebrity makeover it’s us. We also have a no-charge eBook on RFID Asset Tracking you can download that goes into more detail.
Last time we met, you were building an RFID Asset Tracking POC and gathering data. Now you have to start putting together the RFID business case by getting details of RFID tags, RFID readers, and RFID software. To do that you need some cost data and then you need to know what traps to look out for as you move forward with your POC. Like a lot of new things there are plenty of shysters out there (you may have heard Bernie Madoff started an RFID company from lock-down but that’s never been confirmed).
Detailed Cost of RFID for Asset Tracking
RFID has finally come of age for Asset tracking: RFID tags follow one universal standard (ISO 18000-6), RFID readers are smaller and much cheaper than just a couple of years ago and RFID software or middleware is scalable and easily integrates to systems of record like SAP or Maximo. Now that you kow it works what does RFID cost?
As a general rule of thumb you can use the following costs (assuming you want 99.9% accuracy and you want to know directionality, if tags are moving or stationary, etc):
- RFID hand held readers $3,500
- RFID fixed portals for office & data center environment $9,000 (Includes readers, antennas, housing, mounting and installation at each read point)
- RFID tags for metal mounting on servers, etc. $ 3.00
- RFID operating system $1,500 per device
- RFID asset management/intelligence/location layer $75,000 per site
- Engineering services $75,000 per site
Those are rough numbers for an enterprise class RFID system that will ensure 99%+ read accuracy and easily integrate into an existing system of record - the type of system you can count on for accurate audit results and security. Like any other technology you can get away with something for $10,000 that has a single terminal and a green screen with some ancient RFID readers. Conversely you can spend a couple million bucks to get the ”I want the IBM Commercial where my assets show up in 3D images on the inside of my glasses” system. But a couple hundred grand can solve just about anyone’s asset tracking problems and we have found in more than 500 RFID projects that the ROI tends to be about a year on something like that and audit accuracy increases three to four fold.
This is not your father’s Wal-Mart RFID
The RFID revolution really started in 2003 when Walmart tried to force all their clients to use RFID. It was a disaster. The 800 pound gorilla tried to flex it’s muscle to make their suppliers use a technology they had never even heard of. It also spawned a whole slew of venture capital investment in RFID companies. Well over a billion dollars was invested in RFID companies to please Walmart. When no CPG companies bought those system designed for Walmart warehouses the VC said to their companies “sell that crap to someone or we’ll find someone who will”. So a lot of the warehouse-focused companies starting looking to do asset tracking. That explains the horrif deployments you may have heard about.
Theses first generation companies didn’t listen to clients who wanted RFID asset tracking. They listened to their VC investors. Many current RFID asset tracking solutions look like some high school science project – even one of the largest IT Companies in the world selling routers and servers last year deployed big ugly Walmart antennas bolted to a wall and then sent their engineers around wearing Home Depot Aprons– like they were $15 an hour dock workers. Hardly the cutting edge system more often associated with the company. These are supposedly the smartest IT guys in the world yet they deployed an RFID system meant for Walmart not one meant for a data center or office. They didn't know the real possibilities.
The RFID infrastructure needs the right hardware and the optimal RFID software. The right hardware should be very thin, aesthetically pleasing wings that either mount flush on a wall or inside a wall and make use of 2011 RFID technology. They should be an inch or so thick, fully enclosed and able to tell what direction things are moving without cumbersome GPIO devices like photo eyes or pressure pads. They should mount inside the wall or on the wall and look like they belong in an office.
The right hardware works with any of the top commercially available RFID hardware. It should be software that is designed first and foremost for read performance. You have likely spent millions of dollars on SAP, Maximo, HP Asset manger, Sunflower or some of the purpose-built asset management system – get the most from that system don’t try to replace it. The RFID software you need to increase read accuracy, limit maintenance and management of an RFID network, reduce network traffic, and provide basics like filtering data, smoothing out trends, location awareness, provide business process dependencies between read points (what does it mean if something goes through Read Point A first then Read Point B), tell if an RFID tag is moving or stationary and help facilitate tuning of the system.
Most importantly RFID software or middleware should be stable code that scales with your organizations need. The best place to find good RFID software is by talking to analysts who cover the RFID industry – like Gartner Group or ABI Research.
What does RFID success look like?
Our client Stephanie, we talked about last week, at one of the world's big bank, can now produce an automated report in less than 1/5 the time it used to take to do an inventory – and the RFID inventory has virtually no errors. They are taking the program one step further and working with Dell and Cisco to get their assets RFID tagged at the factory so a box coming in the door gets added to their system before it even gets unpacked. That’s 21st Century Cool. But not all RFID programs went so smoothly.
At least two of the top three Banks in the United States suffered false starts. One, the largest bank in America, spent millions of dollars only to rip it out and start over. Why? The project manager thought he knew enough about RFID to do a system with a start-up software company and have success. They installed a system, not based on physics, but instead based on Microsoft BizTalk first and foremost. On paper the integration looked easy (and it was to their BizTalk server) but the RFID component yielded barely 80% read accuracy. The interesting thing was they thought enough about deploying 21st Century technology and replacing that 40 year old bar code to try again. But you don't need to make the same mistake. Think physics and stable software built for RFID accuracy.
For more detail on how to move forward with RFID asset tracking check out the eBook on RFID Asset Tracking (PDF).
You can prevent false starts and build a system that gets 99% plus accuracy right from the start if you focus on the physics. At ODIN that’s what we live for. We started by hiring the guy who ran MIT’s Auto-ID lab and just got geekier from there. We have PhD’s from MIT, Stanford, GW, you name it - we have the big foreheads who really want to make RFID solutions work. Why do they want to make the solutions work? Because our goal is to Create Supremely Satisfied Clients. That's been one of our core ideologies from the start. It’s what we were built for – getting our customers promoted, and making them cool again.
If you want help with your IT asset tracking program and you think it’s finally time to get rid of the mullet, stop playing Dungeons and Dragons and earn the respect of your 16 year old. Give us a call at ODIN, we’ll take care of you or download the eBook RFID PDF.
Many of you may have heard that the London Olympic Organizing Committee is going to force athletes to be injected with near field RFID chips to securely access restricted areas, pay for meals and souvenirs and lock and unlock their rooms. Of course as soon as the announcement came out Friday the privacy advocates were up in arms over it, but they didn’t get the whole story. I spent five years training for the Olympics, was resident at the US Olympic Training Center and did many national and international competitions in my career. I know this can have a big benefit for the athletes. The US did not have the budget for the program. That’s why ODIN will be providing RFID tagging of our Olympic athletes free of charge for the US Olympic Team.
Before we get the rest of the story, let’s look at the technology of injecting a human with an RFID chip. It’s a very old form of RFID, in fact the same type of technology that is being proposed in many mobile phones today. It is based on a Texas Instruments 13.56 Mhz passive RFID tag. There are two current ISO standards that are being considered for NFC uses (there is no formal NFC standard in place today, and only recently has an NFC Forum tried to take on this task). NFC readers will be able to interrogate tags can read ISO 14443 and those based on the ISO 15693 standard, provided that the tags employ the NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF), which sets a common data-exchange format for NFC Forum-compliant devices and tags.
Unfortunately both of these standards have very limited read range. This will keep them from being truly useful beyond payment, and truthfully they will not be much more useful than a bar code or QR code with that short a read range. If we have a longer read range – say three to six feet using RFID tags that were at UHF frequency – then those same Olympic athletes could automatically update each mile during their bike race or marathon run. They could check into or like the opening and closing ceremonies. They could register the number of punches thrown in each boxing match. They could even get recommendations for their diet as they walked through the cafeteria. Many of these long-rnage uses are the cool things that ODIN’s clients are doing today with long-read range RFID tags like Vail Resorts EpicMix, all powered by ODIN RFID Software. All the social media stuff that provides great value.
The athletes, alas, are not going to get the benefit of those long read range. In fact the athletes are not even going to be allowed to participate in the new world order, or brag about their very own mark of the beast, because what most of those privacy folks who lit up the twittershpere and blogsphere failed to realize is that the site that came out with the report http://www.banking4tomorrow.com/2011/04/uk-olympics-to-trial-new-rfid-biochips-embedded-under-athletes-skin/ did so the same day Google released its breakthrough new email program Gmail Motion http://mail.google.com/mail/help/motion.html . Sorry to be a few days late with this blog:-)
This week I'm back at ODIN's HQ with an exciting breakthrough in the world of technology- but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Last year ODIN had a record year as many of you know - we had massively successful RFID projects like Vail Resorts, J&J, Airbus, etc.
These Fortune 100 companies putting RFID into production is a great sign that the industry and the technology have finally broken through the science project stage and can be used for mission critical business applications.
ODIN deployed hundreds of readers at Vail's top five mountains with 99.9% uptime and accuracy despite -35 degree temperatures in some places.
That is proof RFID can be very accurate and highly dependable. That dependability and accuracy of RFID will drive the first uptick in what will become the much sought after "hockey stick" diagram showing an explosion in market size and company revenue but it won't sustain it.
ODIN will double our revenue this year in healthcare and IT asset tracking but that doesn't mean there is scale yet. Scale comes when you change the game and slash prices.
Sure there are plenty of applications like putting a $.50 tag on a $3,000 medical device that make sense, but to change the way people behave and get rid of what I call parasitic roles (more on that later) you need the costs to keep declining.
This fall we saw an alarming trend in RFID tags with raw material prices driving tag cost up. That was very bad, but technology has again come to the rescue. I met with several of our clients and partners in Europe last week and had the chance to meet a start up company that has what they call a breakthrough technology. I have heard this so many times since we started developing this RFID industry that I took the claim with a grain of salt.
When I met with them, however my doubts were quickly swept away. This company has invented a way to bond antenna substrate directly to paper labels and attach a chip using 90% less material getting nearly the same performance (the ODIN labs are verify that as you read this).
If the performance is as promised this means prices will go down dramatically and more applications will be open to using RFID to replace the parasites on a company's bottom line - people who are paid to count, find and track things.
Those parasites add no value to a company- they cost money but do not produce anything. they need to be eliminated to create value. Good RFID Software, a well desingned system based on physics and cheap tags is what it will take. The five cent RFID tag is now very real and the better news is that it is very green, a lot less waste and pollution. A big provider like Avery Dennison, or Zebra should buy this company today and add their scale and disruption and in a year we'll have a three cent RFID tag that will explode the applications of RFID and they will have an investment that looks like a big hockey stick. Boom time!
Three years ago ODIN had clients in more than a dozen different industries. We were doing everything with RFID tracking
from following Dell Servers to inventorying JC Penny Bras. About that time we started to realize how steep the learning curve was in different industries, yet how important it was to know the specific business process to really create what ODIN calls "Supremely Satisfied Clients™".
Specific RFID Solutions
It was about three years ago that ODIN decided to focus on tracking things in the healthcare industry
, for IT assets
, and in the Aerospace/Government
vertical using RFID. We dropped retail like a bad habit, abandoned oil and gas and left high tech manufacturing to other folks (like our partners).
It took a year to get our RFID in healthcare, asset tracking and Aerospace/Government sector. Our business has grown faster than ever before and our client satisfaction rating is at an all-time high. But did that affect end user price?
Let's use guns as an example, because that's always fun. We have deployed RFID weapons tracking solutions for the US Department of State, the US Navy Special Operations Training Centers, and local police forces; just to name a few. Every time we deployed an RFID weapons tracking solution we got faster and had less issues. We started to understand the clients better. We knew that they wanted to use automated reports for special certifications. Security integration became important. We struck relationships with the manufacturers to make sure warranties weren’t voided and tags could be well embedded. When a prospect called in looking for RFID weapons tracking, we knew what questions they were likely to ask. We knew how to help them in the way that a doctor who specializes in orthopedics understands what to look for when he looks at an X-Ray. He can see things that a general practitioner might miss. We turned into the equivalent of the orthopedic surgeon all the pro teams seek out.
RFID Software reduces costs
ODIN recognized the problems but at first it didn't make RFID tracking any cheaper. We were still trying to create custom reports, or one-off integrations. But then ODIN's software team looked for repeated issues and the data showed several repeatable patterns. What happened next is what impacted pricing for all of our clients in a dramatic way.
We didn't try to build a custom RFID solution for everybody like some of the early RFID applications. We took our platform of EasyEdge™ RFID software embedded on the reader and built solutions for our clients, based on the in-depth knowledge we had amassed. We rolled out EasyArms™ (for weapons tracking), EasyKit™ (for orthopedic implant tracking), Intelligent Asset Management “I AM” (for IT Asset tracking and tool tracking) and we dropped prices by 20-30% over custom RFID solutions with better quality. Not only did we drop the cost. We created more stable, scalable and easily repeatable RFID solutions. We took complexity out of RFID and added in accuracy. So our clients bought more. It was a great outcome for everyone.
The bottom line is that for end-users; RFID specific solutions that fit your industry and solve your precise problem are the cheapest most reliable way to success.
For RFID integrators and Value Added Resellers using a highly accurate RFID platform to build a solution based on your intimate client or industry knowledge will mean more business for you.
Today ODIN launched our Learn RFID page. It is an RFID information hub on a wide range of topics including videos, white papers, books, and articles. Over the years we have amassed a great deal of content on tag and reader price/performance, educational videos and presentations for technical and managerial audiences as well as white papers on a variety of topics.
Information on RFID is now copious. However, it too often is dispersed among multiple locations, is presented in a fashion that obscures understanding or is simply shameless promotion. We hope that by providing a central location for a wide variety of RFID materials that are educational and not press releases in disguise, that end users and industry professionals will benefit.
We plan to add to the page over time, rotate content and provide additional features. The featured video today is on a little understood or known niche of RFID products: RFID reader modules. ODIN RF Engineer Will Solomon breaks down the basics of reader modules so end users can have a better understanding of the emerging options for RFID deployments.
See Will’s video here: http://www.odintechnologies.com/learn-rfid
RFID Videos, White Papers, Benchmarks and More
There are a number of other videos covering handheld RFID readers and specifically how antennas impact performance, interference rejection, medical device kit tracking and more. Some you will recognize as past video blog posts while others never made to blog stardom. Current white papers and benchmarks listed include topics such as IT Asset Tracking, RFID Tag Pricing and setting up an RFID reader.
We encourage you to take a look at the site and give us your feedback. We also encourage you to add a comment below indicating what new topics you would like ODIN’s engineering team to cover in future videos, white papers, and benchmarks.
Coverage of the RFID industry is dominated by business to business (B2B) applications. Supply chains from Airbus to Walmart are chock full of RFID tags. RFID is delivering B2B visibility, operational efficiency and enhanced security that cuts costs, inventory and lead times.
Vail’s RFID for Consumers is just the beginning
When it comes to consumer RFID applications there isn’t as much action. Sure we take for granted automated toll collection, pay at the pump and security card access. These are applications that demonstrate how everyday tasks can be automated with RFID. They become less of a hassle.
Our friends at Vail Resorts are now showing us that RFID can do more than just reduce hassle, it can improve consumer experience. Vacations, recreation, sports are all social activities. As more people have moved their social lives online it is only natural that consumer experience innovators such as Vail Resorts would fuse the physical and digital social worlds.
RFID makes Facebook, EpicMix and Other Updates Automatic
Vail Resorts is more than just Vail. It includes premium ski destinations Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Heavenly and Keystone. For several years Vail has embedded RFID tags into season passes to make lift lines less of a hassle. This was innovative in the way EZPass makes life better for commuters.
However, the Vail team saw a bigger opportunity: leveraging RFID data to truly transform the social aspects of the skiing experience. The EpicMix program integrates RFID tagged season passes and RFID readers on the mountain with Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites as well as updates the new EpicMix skiing website. EpicMix tracks vertical feet across all five resorts, allows friends to compete and share their experience (see more here). It all can be accessed via a computer or even a smart phone right from the mountain. Friends can track your epic mountain escapades and you don’t even have to make the updates. Your EpicMix settings and RFID enabled ski pass do it for you.
When you are already operating world premier ski resorts, how do you make the experience even better? The answer from Vail is to make it more personal and do it automatically with RFID. Don’t require people to update the Facebook page or do their own calculations on runs and vertical feet on their iPhone. Fuse the physical and digital socialsphere by leveraging RFID to experience true real-time social media.
RFID Consumer Experience Get Scalable
At ODIN we see Vail’s EpicMix as the beginning of a trend for RFID enabled consumer experiences and are proud to be a part of making it happen. Whereas Coke experimented with RFID and Facebook updates at its Amusement Village this summer, Vail is taking it several steps further. To succeed they are leveraging scalable RFID software and highly accurate, durable and innovative reader configurations (more on this in a future post).
Consumers have more choice than ever before and companies like Vail are embedding true differentiation into consumer experience. I am happy to see RFID move beyond the supply chain and into some serious fun. See you on the mountain. If not, you can see me on EpicMix and Facebook and FourSquare, and Twitter, and…you get the picture.
Enter your comment below. Are you going to try out EpicMix this year?
You may want to check out yesterday's article in FEDTECH BISNOW on ODIN, It's RFID Time. It is a short overview of recent RFID adoption, discusses some new applications and has a great picture of Patrick with an assault rifle.
For more information on RFID weapons tracking or other RFID applications, check out the content categorized in the right hand column of this page.