11 April 2006

Industrial Applications for Wi-Fi

Periodically I wonder about the ways in which small computing devices like the PDA can be used on the job; specifically, I'm interested in the application of these technologies in the implementation of efficiency methodologies like Six Sigma, Lean Production, and so on. One important feature is the application of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to different production stations. Another would be RFID inventory management.

From a promotional In-Stat email:
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., April 3, 2006 – Wi-Fi is increasingly being utilized in
location tracking applications, and Wi-Fi asset tags are expected to reach
almost 2 million shipments in 2010, reports In-Stat. The Wi-Fi location tracking market is still nascent, and many highly changeable factors will decide how fast it grows over the next few years, the high-tech market research firm says. Wi-Fi tags are utilized in Wi-Fi Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) that utilize Wi-Fi access points (APs) to locate devices with external Wi-Fi tags or devices with embedded Wi-Fi.

"Wi-Fi- based RTLS provides the two-fold advantage of being able to 1. leverage standard Wi-Fi infrastructure for location tracking (instead of having to purchase standalone location reader devices), and 2. track any devices with embedded Wi-Fi, including laptops, scanners, phones, etc., right along with those assets with Wi-Fi tags," says Gemma Tedesco, In-Stat analyst. "So far, Wi-Fi RTLS has gained the most traction in healthcare, where Wi-Fi infrastructure has already been deployed on a relatively large scale, and where there exists many valuable assets to track, such as patient monitoring devices and wheelchairs."
The rest of the message addresses winners in industrial service appliacations, like WhereNet: this firm offers complex "real-time location systems" (RTLS).

Also on the subject, another study from In-Stat:
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., March 8, 2006 – RFID technology has arrived in China in an unprecedented manner, with over 100 million tags shipped in 2005, and more than 2.9 billion tags forecast to be shipped by 2009, reports In-Stat. From 2005 through 2009, a major RFID application will be for human ID through China's second-generation Resident ID Card program, the high-tech market research firm says.

"With a population of over 1.3 billion, the issuance of RFID-tag-inlaid Resident ID cards by the Ministry of Public Security is one of the biggest RFID projects in the world," says Anty Zheng, In-Stat analyst. "More than one billion ID Cards will be issued before the end of 2008."
I find this fairly disturbing, that China's elites have decided to make such a huge investment in tracking the location of its citizens with RFIDs. Please note the vast majority of Chinese live under conditions of destitution and technical backwardness associated with the 19th century.

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