VeriChip Corporation has announced that it has obtained the patent for
a portable RFID asset location system. The product combines RFID tagging technology
along with a portable receiver that can enable the tracking of assets
in a fixed setting like a warehouse or building.

The system will utilize portable receivers to collect RFID
messages and identify the unique ID of an asset, as well as its room location.
This will eliminate the installation costs of fixed receivers throughout a
facility and could substantially lower the initial cost of implementing RFID
Patent Number 7116230 describes the portable location system
  • An asset location system comprising a plurality of
    location tags, each having:
  • A location tag transmitter for controlled
    range transmission of a location identifier;A plurality of asset tags, each being affixed to an asset
    and each having: a receiver for receiving a location identifier from any
    of the location tags;
  • A memory for storing at least an asset identifier and a
    location identifier;
  • A transmitter for transmitting an asset signal, the asset
    signal including at least the asset identifier and the received location
  • An asset location retrieval unit, the retrieval unit
    having: a receiver for receiving the asset signal from any of the asset
    tags; a memory; a power unit; and an output means for outputting asset
    locations based on the received asset signal from any of the plurality of
    asset tags.

At this time, VeriChip has not indicated when the Portable
RFID Asset Tracking System will be available for purchase.

This should not impact most RFID asset tracking vendors since they use a fixed infrastructure. I'm aware of a few vendors who have systems based on carrying around a portable receiver, but they are not widely used.

I did learn about a asset tracking system based on a portable receiver just today, from a company called Aethon. They have an autonomous robot called Homer that moves throughout a facility determining the location of assets, thus obviating the need for a fixed RTLS infrastructure. When combined with their other autonomous robot, Tug, the Aethon system can reportedly find and retrieve assets automatically. Sounds pretty cool, but I can't imagine they'll be pleased to hear about VeriChip's new patent.

Pictured right is a photo of Verichip's implantable passive chip to spice things up a bit.

[Hat tip: MDBuyline]