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The UWB/RFID tracking device works by working out the time taken to contact each of four servers in the corner of the room — the information can then be used to triangulate the exact position of each person carrying the device.
The system uses UWB as conventional radio frequency technology works poorly indoors, because the signals reflect off walls, desks, people and equipment. Infrared-based location is also not as effective as it requires line of sight from the tag to the reader, which increases the amount of infrastructure required. UWB uses short duration pulses that are easier to filter in order to work out which signals are correct and which are distorted.
IBM has also developed another personal RFID device, this time utilising VoIP technology. Essentially a Wi-Fi-enabled tag with built in VoIP capability, the device can be worn around the neck and allows individuals to be tracked and contacted.
One application for the device would be in hospitals, where the doctor, nurse or surgeon who is nearest to an incident could be alerted by a message transmitted to that individual's tag. The request could be in the form of a short voice-alert or a text message.