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Insider's BLOG from the RFID Experts

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Interplanetary Villains; The Mice Win


One of my colleagues recently opined on this blog that Darth Vader was 'clearly' the baddest interplanetary villain out there. Beg to differ. The hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional mice encountered by Arthur Dent & crew are far more evil - anyone who can keep that front up for ten million years has my vote. Even Voldemort (I'm not afraid to write it) looked badder than Darth until he brought the wrong wand to the finale and ended up looking, well, amateurish.

Vader might have taken the title had his plan not suffered from two significant drawbacks; batteries and size. Consider how long it took to fire the Death Star's planet-crunching beam - while the Sith Lord waited patiently for countless black hat technicians to charge thedarth vader light saber batteries, the rebels gained time. And while reliance on a battery power source made Vader's ultimate weapon much less efficient, size destroyed it. How long did it take to move the Death Star into position to destroy Yavin 4 and with it the rebel base?  Had it been smaller, more nimble, it might have zipped into firing range and smartly fried the moon to a crisp well before that do-gooder Skywalker ever got close to the trench.

Batteries and size. Had Darth figured it out, it could have been a different movie.

Healthcare organizations all over the world have realized the same thing. Active RFID technology has allowed them to track certain high value assets using a variant of WiFi technology. This is a quick win with a double-height brick wall - batteries and size. Active RFID or RTLS tags are just too unwieldy and expensive to track most assets other than the largest most precious items, and while brochures might claim otherwise, you can forget about patients or staff. Likewise batteries are fine when we're looking at a few thousand RFID tags on high value assets...we can perhaps monitor and change those batteries over time, ignoring for a minute the maintenance overhead and resulting increase in TCO. But what happens if we want to track hundreds of thousands of assets, all vital to patient care?

Healthcare organizations looking beyond the quick win and towards true operational excellence have realized they must turn to passive RFID technology in order to track everything from pumps and defibrillators down to the smallest but most important of objects, such as the pieces of tissue extracted from each of us that hold the answers to our current and future wellbeing. UHF passive RFID is the only technology capable of tracking an anatomical pathology specimen, a pump, a bed or a patient, all using the smallest, cheapest of passive RFID tags - more than 100x less expensive than active alternatives - with a single lightweight infrastructure backed by international standards and many competing yet interoperable vendors.

Does this mean hospitals have to abandon active RFID or RTLS tracking technology? Not at all. The best and brightest active RFID providers (like Ekahau and Aeroscout) also understand these limitations and have partnered with ODIN to create powerful active/passive hybrid solutions. ODIN's EasyTAP is designed with exactly this Active Passive RFID integration in mind, and quickly makes passive UHF RFID tags visible to leading active RFID platforms. So while purists will argue the case for each technology, the reality is healthcare organizations can - and should have both have both.

Sadly the EasyTAP was not available a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. Vader blew it. The mice win.


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