InnerWireless has announced the RFID solution that was hinted at a few months ago
(press release). Two things surprise me about this announcement. Rather
than supporting third party RFID solutions on their distributed antenna system,
it appears that InnerWireless will be providing their own turnkey indoor positioning system (IPS).
infrastructure is as easy to install as a homes smoke detector. A two-person team can install and make fully
operational an InnerWireless location system within one eight-hour-shift per
hospital department. [T]he InnerWireless location system scales seamlessly without major cost
breakpoints, enabling a hospital to install the system and add tags when, where,
and how it wants.
The other surprise is their choice of IEEE 802.15.4 for implementing their RFID solution.
communications standard, thus avoiding the IP address proliferation that
piggybacking on the hospitals existing 802.11 wireless data networks would
[B]y using 802.15.4 the InnerWireless location system uses a reliable, low-power
standard to provide untethered RF infrastructure, and tags with healthcare
optimized functions, form factors, and long battery life all at low cost.
Many vendors are developing proprietary,
closed-standard location systems that remain expensive and are inflexible. Alternatively, others propose tracking
thousands of tags via the hospitals 802.11 network, which will unnecessarily
overburden a network that already shoulders a heavy load for hospitals,
Westgarth [Alastair B. Westgarth, senior vice president
of product line management] said. The open 802.15.4
standard seamlessly coexists with the hospitals 802.11 networks. It provides a reliable, easy to deploy, and
high-assurance location system that todays hospitals want and need. The InnerWireless location system supports
our mission of helping hospitals develop their own 21st century
The choice of 802.14.5 seems to run against an apparent market trend to Wi-Fi-based RFID systems (like PanGo and Ekahau).
Certainly the size and cost of Wi-Fi tags is big, and battery life is
short (at least for now) - good reasons to adopt an alternative to Wi-Fi. Here's some more
on 802.15.4 from IT Architect magazine:
Bluetooth, but it can be incorporated into chips that consume little
power and cost only a few dollars each. Like Bluetooth, 802.15.4 uses
frequency-hopping, a radio technique that lowers data rates, but is
more resistant to interference than the radios used by Wi-Fi.
The real secret sauce in all this is that InnerWireless has been
able to implement RFID on their distributed antenna system. That's the
big news. It's early on and many details remain to be revealed. Stay