CeBIT 2012: RFID to the Rescue

CeBIT_2012_RFID_2The BarCode News reports on RFID developments showcased at CeBIT 2012, the world's largest digital IT and telecommunications solutions.

For years, RFID has been gaining worldwide recognition as a tool for maximizing logistics. Of course, businesses are constantly discovering new uses for RFID technology and implementing them in more and more industries.

While covering the barcode, AutoID, QR code, and scanning exhibitors at the CeBIT 2012 conference in Hannover, Germany, BarCode News discovered that Identec Solutions has introduced a number of RFID-based offerings that address both industrial and sports-related safety issues.

On the football field, for example, heat prostration has led to several fatalities over the past few years. The problem starts during pre-season practices that take place under the intense summer sun. Identec has already developed a headband with an embedded heat-sensing chip. The RFID chips embedded in helmets developed by HotHead Technologies, combine RFID with a heat-sensing thermistor, offering plenty of range.

“One coach reported that he realized that a player was overheating even before he stepped onto the field,” said Dawn Antle, VP Marketing at Identec, when we spoke to her at CeBIT. The technology has already been extended into other sports such as lacrosse and racing, and the company sees potential for industrial use as well, for instance, by firefighters and construction workers.

Another RFID product showcased at CeBIT 2012 is a rugged wrist strap, styled more or less like a Swatch watch, contains an RFID chip that functions CeBIT_2012_RFID_1 as a beacon and includes a button that the wearer can press at any time to signal the reader. While the applications for safety are obvious, from mine workers to search parties and rescue crews, the wrist unit shows potential for use anywhere staff or workers need to check in periodically or, if necessary, signal for help or simply indicate that they have completed a particular task.

When we think of mining safety, thoughts usually turn to the compelling stories of trapped miners. Many other dangers plague the industry, and one particularly vexing problem is large metal bits that often break away from the massive machines that dig in the mines.

Identec developed its wireless RFID-based Ground Engagement Tool (i-GET) together with the mining industry in order to better track and manage the components of the heavy-duty mining machines. The system alerts operators instantly whenever any of the enormous metal “teeth” on the mining machines break off. Even more important than knowing when to replace the broken part, the system ensures that the rogue metal pieces won’t enter the pile of ore before the crushing process begins. It’s not simply a matter of maintaining the purity of the ore. Fatal accidents often occur when the metal jams the processing machinery. In this case, it really is a matter of life and death, and RFID plays a major role in workers' safety.

From the playing field to remote industrial sites, RFID technology shows its value as an important tool in the quest for improved safety.

Identec Solutions, with headquarters in Austria and a U.S. office outside of Dallas, delivers wireless sensing technologies to more than 16 industries worldwide.

About CeBIT 2012

"CeBIT is the world's largest trade fair showcasing digital IT and telecommunications solutions for home and work environments. The key target groups are users from industry, the wholesale/retail sector, skilled trades, banks, the services sector, government agencies, science and all users passionate about technology. CeBIT offers an international platform for comparing notes on current industry trends, networking, and product presentations.” Learn more at the CeBit 2012 website.

About the Author

Eric Moody covers barcode and POS industry events worldwide, with a particular eye toward new product development and user experience. A graduate of Brown University and Thunderbird School of Global Management, he was formerly editor of Business Digest magazine. He has been active in the retail systems world for more than 20 years.

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