Tracking that container

Monday, 06 February, 2006

Radio frequency identification is being used in the Smart Box, a shipping container that can be located during transit and offers numerous other useful functions.

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF have developed the IFF Smart Box, a container equipped with a scanning device that can check its contents by RFID.

The data are forwarded to a small computer unit. Software combines them with the current geographical location determined by a GPS receiver. Various sensors can be integrated in the box to measure parameters such as pressure, temperature or vibration.

The information is transmitted to a database by mobile radio.

Logistics companies and customers can access the database via the internet to enquire where their goods are at any given moment, whether the specified temperature is being observed or how serious vibrations have been during transport.

RFID provides security, too: customers can specify, for instance, which of their employees can open the door of the container when and where. The door will only open if the electronic lock receives an encoded signal from an authenticated transponder card.

The Smart Box is a prototype that IFF researchers have developed together with telematics specialists from Enaikoon in Berlin.

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