Photos: Tracking people with VoIP and RFID

Photos: Tracking people with VoIP and RFID

Summary: IBM has opened an RFID facility in Dublin specialising in asset management. Some of the applications on show include a VoIP-enabled RFID device that could supersede the pager, so we went to take a look

TOPICS: Emerging Tech

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  • IBM's Stephen Boden shows off a personal tracking device built around RFID and Ultrawideband technology. Codeveloped by partner Ubisense, which describes itself as a smart-space company, the device allows multiple individuals to be tracked around a room or complex.

    The tag also supports two-way communication using a standard radio channel. Buttons on the tag can be used to send information or unlock doors, and the tag's programmable LED and buzzer could be used to remind a patient to take medication.

  • 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.

Topic: Emerging Tech

Andrew Donoghue

About Andrew Donoghue

"If I'd written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people - including me - would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism."

Hunter S. Thompson

Andrew Donoghue is a freelance technology and business journalist with over ten years on leading titles such as Computing, SC Magazine, BusinessGreen and

Specialising in sustainable IT and technology in the developing world, he has reported and volunteered on African aid projects, as well as working with charitable organisations such as the UN Foundation and Computer Aid.

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