Eureka! A $5 active RFID tag

GCN Insider | Trends and technologies that affect the way government does IT

We feel for the Veterans Affairs Department, really we do. But think of the GCN technology staff. Our days are already busy, but when a data breach happens'and unfortunately VA has been the poster child of late'we're inundated with IT solutions that, as the companies invariably put it, could have prevented everything.

Which brings us to the desktop computer containing VA data that walked out of a contractor's office earlier this month. It turns out in that case we actually met with officials from RF Code of Mesa, Ariz., (www.rfcode.com) days before GCN broke the news. But what RF Code CEO Joe Dugan described really could have given VA and other agencies a fighting chance against IT theft.

Dugan came by to discuss the company's new Tavis Real-Time Location and Sensor platform, which RF Code is rolling out as an end-to-end radio frequency identification-based tracking system. It's easy to say that if the computer in VA's case had been fitted with an active RFID tag, the theft could have been prevented'or at least detected'but that assumes agencies have the budget for $10 to $100 per active RFID tag for each of their IT assets.

Dugan said RF Code had overhauled its own tag technology, applying power patents it hadn't applied before, modularizing the tag design, creating a sensor bus and generally driving down the cost of materials. The result is a $5 active RFID tag, with a battery life up to 10 years and on-board tamper detection. And according to Dugan, RF Code's tag is half the size of other active tags.

The Tavis RTLS solution also includes a network appliance for handling reader interaction, location services and sensor services, plus a new infrared SignPost device that agencies can deploy inexpensively in their facilities for quick-and-dirty tracking of tagged assets. 'With the infrared component, organizations can outfit a room for RTLS for about $50 per room instead of $3,000,' Dugan said.

Also worth noting: Dugan said the company's tags are environmentally friendly, specifically lead-free. One concern about RFID technology has been that it poisons the recycling stream, especially when it comes to passive tags that could be affixed to everything from clothes to packaging materials. 'We can make ours disposable,' Dugan said.

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