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Old 29-10-2009, 07:58 PM   #27
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RFID-based enterprise intelligence

SixthSense is a platform for RFID-based enterprise intelligence that combines RFID events with information from other enterprise systems and sensors to automatically make inferences about people, objects, workspaces, and their interactions, writes Nivedan Prakash

We all are aware of the benefits that can be leveraged out of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. RFID is basically an electronic tagging technology that allows the detection and tracking of tags and consequently the objects that they are affixed to. This ability to do remote detection and tracking coupled with the low cost of passive tags has led to the widespread adoption of RFID in supply chains worldwide.

Microsoft Research India has come up with a technology called SixthSense, which is a platform for RFID-based enterprise intelligence systems. The vision behind this is the workplace or home of the future where computing is extended to encompass non-computing entities such as people, objects, and spaces to enable rich user experiences.

The technology comprises inexpensive tags that are attached to objects and readers that are able to read these tags from some distance. In SixthSense, the researchers have extended the domain of RFID to settings, such as the workplace, where there is rich interaction amongst people and between people and objects.

SixthSense has been designed and developed by Venkat Padmanabhan, Principal Researcher - Mobility, Networks and Systems Group, Microsoft Research India and Lenin Ravindranath, formerly an Assistant Researcher in the same group.

Padmanabhan said, “The idea of SixthSense is to use RFID technology in conjunction with a bunch of other enterprise systems such as the calendar system or online presence that can track user activity. Here, we consider an enterprise setting of the future where people (or rather their employee badges) and their personal objects such as books, laptops, and mobile phones are tagged with cheap, passive RFID tags, and there is good coverage of RFID readers in the workplace.”

The rationale behind coming up with this kind of technology is the underlying fact that RFID is widely used to track the movement of goods through a supply chain—whether it be pallets shipped between warehouses, cases delivered to stores, or items placed on the store shelves, thereby optimizing inventory management and yielding significant cost savings.

“If you look at the technology trends, RFID has really taken off in a big way in the world of warehouses and retail stores amongst others wherein you can tag items and then track their movement through the supply chain. Although it’s expensive, it is becoming cheaper. In the supply chain setting, there is typically a linear flow of objects. The question we asked was whether RFID technology could be used in an interesting way in a different environment like an office building or an enterprise. That’s how we started off and we basically realized that rather than working with RFID technology in isolation, it would make sense to use it in conjunction with other enterprise systems that already existed. This led to the SixthSense system,” added Padmanabhan.

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