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The more practical side of advanced scientific research can also be seen at the Zurich centre, where a range of practical, leading-edge products were on display.
This included projects for ID cards that use the most complex engraving technology so that a picture is not ON a card, but part of the card's physical structure; a health monitoring system that uses a mobile phone to keep a doctor aware of a patient's essential health data and sound an alarm if the parameters change; and a security system that can track people at room level -- for situations where it may be OK for someone to walk into the room but not a particular part of it.
One practical system undergoing final testing with an unnamed transportation company will track containers anywhere in the world and can raise a flag if the container is opened, even if it's 2,000 miles away.
This particular project users wireless, RFID and related technologies for monitoring and tracking.
The challenge for Zurich scientists has been not so much how to track containers, but how to produce a tracking system that can monitor 10,000 containers individually. Monitors and sensors will have to be powered off batteries for a year or two, keep in contact with a base anything up to 2,000 miles away and still come in at a reasonable cost.