Photos: Inside Big Blue's new RFID centre

Photos: Inside Big Blue's new RFID centre

Summary: Dublin campus takes a craic at track and trace...

TOPICS: Networking

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  • Big Blue likes to "eat is own cooking", according to execs.

    This is an RFID 'portal', which contains a number of RFID readers; seven of which are used by IBM on the Dublin campus.

    In the Irish centre, IBM staff carry laptops with an RFID chipped bar attached. When they enter or leave the building - walking under a portal like this one - or when laptops are moved around the campus, IBM can check exactly where its equipment has ended up.

    Using this system, RFID-chipped devices can typically be located to within a distance of between three and five metres, although greater degrees of accuracy are possible.

    Photo credit: Jo Best

  • The coming and going of the laptops and their owners can then be displayed on a PC, to help bosses track costly assets.

    IBM is already in talks with one PC manufacturer about integrating chips into the casing of laptops to help prevent theft and relocate misplaced equipment.

    Photo credit: Jo Best

  • The Dublin centre also demonstrates how RFID can be integrated with other technologies, including VoIP.

    This VoIP device, worn around the neck, can be connected to a corporate network, using wi-fi, along with RFID infrastructure. Both in turn can be linked up to a company's ERP systems.

    This device, similar to a VoIP pager, could be put to use in a supermarket or retailer. A consumer can walk a bag of RFID-chipped shopping past a tag reader and instantly have the items rung up. Payment can also be completed this way if a consumer is carrying an RFID loyalty card.

    In the case of queries thrown up by the tagged goods – whether a consumer is old enough to buy alcohol, for example – the system can alert a manager through his VoIP device.

    One of the world's largest retail groups, Metro, is already trialling similar applications of RFID with smart checkouts, which read tags on goods and charge customers accordingly.

    While the cost of tags - still around 20 cents each - has turned off most retailers from item-level tagging, RFID standards body GS1 believes that the one cent tag will arrive from as early as 2012.

    RFID take-up is expected to boom once tags hit five cents.

    Photo credit: Jo Best

Topic: Networking

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