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Thursday, August 30, 2007

I received a good "schooling" yesterday in the difference between radio frequency identification (RFID) and the RF devices used in real-time location systems (RTLS) for indoor positioning. I visited a company called Q-Track that is developing technology to monitor the location of people within a confined area using a radio antenna and an RF tag that a person wears. The radio antenna can receive signals from the tag within about a 10,000 square foot area and, based on an understanding of the RF wavelength, a location accurate to within about 2 or 3 feet can be determined. The "math" to calculate the location is not based on time of arrival nor does it depend on triangulation. It’s one antenna and a single tag that broadcasts a signal from the person wearing the device. My "schooling" came via Dr. Hans Schantz,  chairman and CTO of Q-Track, an expert in ultra-wideband technology.

The cost of Q-Track technology fits somewhere between passive RFID and GPS. The infrastructure for RFID requires extensive use of fixed location readers and cheap tags, but a true position of the object is near impossible to determine. GPS, of course, has problems with indoor location tracking . Q-Track’s tag is about $50 alone but the ability to get an accurate location in real-time is its competitive advantage.

Applications? It is being looked at by a number of government agencies and power companies to track employees. One application by a nuclear power plant wants to monitor a worker’s workflow as they spend time in a radioactive environment. It’s also being tested in caves. Could it have been used in the recent mine disaster in Utah? Although the mine area was certainly bigger than current testing, this is one application that is under serious consideration by Q-Track.

by Joe Francica on 08/30 at 07:58 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Posted today at Directions Magazine:

- The National Land and Water Information Service - Canada’s New Agri-Environmental Web Portal

Interested? We have a feed of articles from Directions Magazine or you can subscribe to e-mail newsletters.

by Adena Schutzberg on 08/30 at 06:54 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

I hear a lot about consultants being hired to do “needs assessment” for GIS, but rarely do I hear about any evaluation after its installed. The folks in Shawnee County, Kansas are considering spending $22,500 with a contractor to do that.

The county and Bartlett & West Inc. have a tentative agreement for services that would look at the performance of the county’s GIS, a system that lays out data according to location, often in the form of maps.

Topeka Capital-Journal

by Adena Schutzberg on 08/30 at 06:30 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Today I see that Trimble announced its keynote speakers for its User Conference. They include Peter Hillary (explorer, author, adventurer), Dan Burrus (business author of Technotrends, 1993)and Bob Ballard (“legendary explorer and discoverer of wreck of the Titanic”). Mr. Hillary did the ESRI UC a few years ago (if I recall correctly; I was not in attendence), Mr. Burrus spoke at an Autodesk event some years ago and Mr. Ballard joined us at a New England Arc User Group. These names got me to thinking. What was the best keynote ever at a geo or tech event you attended?

I don’t have to think about it for a second: James Burke, the Connections guy (website) at ESRI UC in the mid-1990s. I still remember the first thing (and many of the later things) he said: “I will speak for exactly one hour, so I hope you’ve all been to the toilet.”

by Adena Schutzberg on 08/30 at 06:17 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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