New App Makes RFID Deployments Low-Cost

By the end of this month, RedBite's itemit app for iOS and Android devices will enable smartphone users to track assets via RFID at a cost of about $200 a year, plus the purchase price of a Bluetooth-enabled reader.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 22, 2017

Although the cost of tags, readers and software has been dropping in recent years, RFID deployments are still unaffordable for many companies seeking item-level inventory tracking. Cambridge U.K.-based Internet of Things software company RedBite (a spinoff of the Auto ID Labs) has developed a low-cost solution known as itemit, consisting of iOS- and Android-based apps and an enterprise Web portal.

"Until now, RFID has still been a very exclusive technology," says Alex C.Y. Wong, RedBite's CEO, with software installations that are too cost-prohibitive for many companies. In the case of itemit, on the other hand, if a single user employs QR codes to identify and track items, the service is free. If the user wants to share asset data with others within his or her company, the firm would pay a monthly subscription upgrade for itemit Enterprise for each user. If the system employs ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID, it costs approximately $200 a year per user, with an additional charge to share the data with other individuals.

RedBite's itemit asset-management solution
The itemit app has been available for the past six months for use with QR codes. This month, RedBite launched its RFID version for iOS devices, and the technology is expected to be available for Android devices as well by next month.

The app is designed for simplicity, the company reports. Users can download it to their smartphones or tablets, then begin setting up profiles of assets—taking pictures, adding attachments, setting expiration dates or other alerts, and inputting any comments about each item on that item's page. In the case of QR codes, they then scan the QR code to link it to that item.

With regard to RFID use, individuals or businesses would need to acquire the RFID-enabled functionality in the app. They can use the app on their phone if it is paired with a Bluetooth-based Technology Solutions (UK) Ltd. RFID-enabled reader—or, by August, Zebra Technologies' RFD8500 sled reader.

Users purchase RFID tags—any standard EPC UHF RFID tag will work with the system, Wong says. The tags can be applied to anything from industrial equipment to buildings' health and safety assets, he explains, but most commonly will be applied to high-value moving assets. When a user sets up a profile for an item, such as a laptop, he or she can take photos and upload documents such as a user's manual or inspection report. The user can then add customizable information—for example, the department that owns the item, the asset's status, and such descriptors as color or make and model—in order to differentiate it. The app stores this data along with the RFID tag ID and the item's location on its profile page.

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