Wireless Control of an RFID Reader
Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) technology is finding more and more applications as its cost comes down and its benefits become apparent. One such use of RFID is the monitoring of high-value items in storage or on retail display. As well as tracking stock levels, this can provide an alert of unauthorized access to the items, or, in retail terms, theft. The RFID system can be located under or inside the shelf on which the items are placed or elsewhere in the storage system. A problem with using this technology as a retro-fit to an existing setup is cabling for power and the data link. The solution today is high enery-density batteries and low-power wireless technology.
This project began as a fairly simple controller that would link an RFID reader to a central control station via a 2.4 GHz wireless link. The system would be powered by a large lithium ion battery that would be removed periodically for recharging. Various power-saving strategies would maximise the service time in between charges. Unfortunately, feature creep set in early and continued until the project held major engineering challenges which resulted in late delivery and substantial cost over-run. The absence of a system-level design and conflict between the system integrator and the provider of the central control station software also contributed to the eventual failure of the project. The part of the project for which ECROS Technology was responsible operated correctly as far as it was tested before work was halted.