VeriChip is developing a portable reader that will, the company hopes, help users get to information stored in its RFID systems in a more cost-effective manner.
The subsidiary of Applied Digital Solutions announced Jan. 8 that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted it a patent for its portable RFID asset location system. The patent, numbered 7,116,230, combines RFID tagging technology with a portable receiver to track the location of assets within a fixed setting—a building or a warehouse, for example—negating the need for fixed readers, company officials said.
The idea is that users will be able to use portable receivers, or readers, to collect RFID messages sent out from RFID tags, rather than relying on a network of fixed readers. The RFID messages, relayed when a reader activates a passive RFID tag, identify the unique ID of a tagged asset (a heart monitor in a hospital, for example) along with its room number, officials said.
"This patent is an extension of our proven RFID-based asset tracking technology," said Daniel Gunther, president of VeriChip, in Delray Beach, Fla. "The portability of the receiver is a unique feature that we believe could have many applications in industrial, warehouse and health care settings."
Gunther said that by not requiring the installation of a number of fixed receivers throughout a facility, companies could "substantially lower the cost of implementing RFID technology."
VeriChip develops RFID tracking systems primarily for the health care industry, in areas its defined as patient identification, infant protection, wander prevention and asset tracking, among others. But the company is probably best known for its VeriMed (formerly known as the VeriChip), a human-implantable RFID chip that, at about the size of a grain of rice, can be injected into the fatty part of a persons arm and used to store a unique identifying number. That number is tracked back to a database that holds, for example, patient information.
While VeriMed is the only human-implantable chip thats been approved by the Food & Drug Administration, privacy advocates have pointed to the VeriChip as not only a potential invasion of privacy but a security threat as well, should an unauthorized person gain access to the system database. A portable RFID asset tracking reader could make that more of a possibility, though its not clear if VeriChip would make its portable reader compatible with the VeriMed chip.
VeriChip executives were not available for comment.