Utilizing Wi-Fi Standard Wireless
    Networks for Active RFID


              June 2007




                             ...
2 | Disclaimer




Disclaimer
                 The information and know-how included in this document are the exclusive pr...
Table of Contents | 3




Table of Contents

         Introduction ..........................................................
4 | Introduction




Introduction
              AeroScout offers a unique Wi-Fi-based Active RFID solution that marries th...
Benefits of Using Wi-Fi for Active RFID | 5




Benefits of Using Wi-Fi for Active RFID
         Unlike proprietary Active...
6 | How Wi-Fi-based Active RFID Works




How Wi-Fi-based Active RFID Works
              AeroScout tags work seamlessly w...
How Wi-Fi-based Active RFID Works | 7




•   Beaconing vs. Association
    The association method has multiple significan...
8 | How AeroScout tags work with standard Wireless LANs




How AeroScout tags work with standard Wireless LANs
          ...
Common Misconceptions about Wi-Fi-based Active RFID | 9




Common Misconceptions about Wi-Fi-based Active RFID
        Wi...
10 | Specific Integrations with WLAN Vendors




Specific Integrations with WLAN Vendors
              This section lists ...
Specific Integrations with WLAN Vendors | 11




•   3Com
    The 3Com WLAN solution (based on Trapeze) can send tag infor...
12 | Future Growth and Developments




Future Growth and Developments
              AeroScout, industry analysts and majo...
Contact Information | 13




Contact Information


    Web site: www.aeroscout.com
    Sales and general requests: info@ae...
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Utilizing Wi-Fi Standard Wireless Networks for Active RFID

  1. 1. Utilizing Wi-Fi Standard Wireless Networks for Active RFID June 2007 WP-WIFI-060607-01
  2. 2. 2 | Disclaimer Disclaimer The information and know-how included in this document are the exclusive property of AeroScout Inc. and are intended for the use of the addressee or the user alone. The addressees shall not forward to another their right of using the information, know-how or document forwarded herewith, in whole or in part in all matters relating or stemming from or involved therein, whether for consideration or without consideration, and shall not permit any third party to utilize the information, know-how or the documents forwarded herewith or copies or duplicates thereof, unless at the company’s consent in advance and in writing. Any distribution, advertisement, copying or duplication in any form whatsoever is absolutely prohibited. The Company reserves the right to sue the addressee, user and/or any one on their behalves, as well as third parties, in respect to breaching its rights pertaining to the intellectual rights in particular and its rights of whatever kind or type in the information, know-how or the documents forwarded by them herewith in general, whether by act or by omission. This document is confidential and proprietary to AeroScout Inc. and is not to be distributed to any persons other than licensed AeroScout Visibility System users or other persons appointed in writing by AeroScout Inc. Trademark Acknowledgements AeroScout™ is a trademark of AeroScout Inc. Other brand products and service names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders. Copyright ©2007 AeroScout Inc. All rights reserved.
  3. 3. Table of Contents | 3 Table of Contents Introduction ......................................................................................................4 Benefits of Using Wi-Fi for Active RFID ...........................................................5 How Wi-Fi-based Active RFID Works ..............................................................6 How AeroScout tags work with standard Wireless LANs .................................8 Common Misconceptions about Wi-Fi-based Active RFID...............................9 Specific Integrations with WLAN Vendors......................................................10 Future Growth and Developments .................................................................12 Conclusion .....................................................................................................12 Contact Information........................................................................................13
  4. 4. 4 | Introduction Introduction AeroScout offers a unique Wi-Fi-based Active RFID solution that marries the business benefits of Active RFID to the ease of deployment and high enterprise penetration rate of Wi-Fi. Large enterprises around the world use AeroScout technology within multiple industries, such as healthcare (for medical equipment and patient tracking), manufacturing (for improving work-in-process productivity) and logistics (for trailer and container location.) The purpose of this document is to describe how Wi-Fi-based Active RFID technology (and the AeroScout solution in particular) integrates with standard WLAN equipment to provide asset visibility. The capability to use Wi-Fi standards for Active RFID applications has been enabled and tested through joint technology development between AeroScout and the leading WLAN networking equipment vendors. The document will discuss the benefits of (and misconceptions about) using Wi-Fi for location, the various methods of doing so, and how the AeroScout solution integrates with these WLAN vendors.
  5. 5. Benefits of Using Wi-Fi for Active RFID | 5 Benefits of Using Wi-Fi for Active RFID Unlike proprietary Active RFID Systems, Wi-Fi-based Active RFID systems utilize standard Wi-Fi (802.11) technology as a communications protocol, enabling customers to utilize WLAN access points (APs) as Active RFID “readers”. Customers can use a single WLAN infrastructure to deliver location applications without affecting other data, voice and video applications on the network. This is beneficial in multiple ways: • Lower infrastructure cost Customers can use their existing or new WLAN infrastructure as a reader network. This saves the cost of purchasing single-purpose RFID readers, often at a high expense. • Lower installation cost In addition to the cost of the readers themselves, proprietary systems require the cost of wiring and installing the readers. This cost can often involve expensive union labor, or shutting down operations temporarily during installation. • Faster deployment and installation Wi-Fi-based systems can generally be installed much more quickly than proprietary systems, because the infrastructure already exists. In addition, Wi-Fi systems can easily scale to full-facility installations for the same reason, while proprietary systems are often kept within limited areas due to the infrastructure needs. • Reduced management burden Installing a proprietary network doubles the IT management burden, as network managers will now need to oversee two separate networks at different frequencies. Wi-Fi, on the other hand, is already familiar to network managers, who can easily manage the location application within the same wireless network. • Faster ROI from existing WLAN Enterprises are still exploring ways to gain value from their wireless networking investments. Wi-Fi-based Active FRID gives them a new way to reach ROI from their WLAN faster.
  6. 6. 6 | How Wi-Fi-based Active RFID Works How Wi-Fi-based Active RFID Works AeroScout tags work seamlessly with standard Wi-Fi access points from multiple leading enterprise wireless networking vendors. The tags communicate at long range with stationary WLAN access points, which act like Active RFID readers, receiving the tag messages and sending them along with measured parameters to software for processing. The tags are accurately identified and located in real time based on these messages and measured parameters. AeroScout tags are unique in that they use the “beaconing” method, rather than the “association” method, keeping network utilization low and ensuring high scalability. • Beaconing Method AeroScout tags are programmed to send out a unidirectional standard Wi-Fi message on a recurring basis. This short message consists of the tag’s MAC address, control data and additional information as required. The packet is an 802.11b data message transmitted with a long or short preamble at 1 Mbps, a header at 1 or 2 Mbps and a standard payload message which is 416 bits long. A standard tag message being transmitted at 1Mbps consumes 0.416msec; T3 tags transmitting at 2Mbps consume only half the time for the transmission. Tag messages are broadcasted to a multicast group address recognizable by AeroScout compatible access points, eliminating the need for association and for an IP address assignment. When the tag’s message is received by an access point, that access point measures the strength of the received signal and appends this data to the received packet. No association with the access point is required. The access point then routes the packet over the network to a server for processing (generally the AeroScout Engine). When the same tag signal arrives at multiple access points, the Received Signal Strength Indication (RSSI) measured and reported by the access points is used by the Location Engine to determine the location of the tag. • Association Method Other Wi-Fi tags in the marketplace utilize an association method, under which the tag acts like a Wi-Fi client. In this method, the tag wakes up on a recurring basis and measures the signal strength of beacons from multiple nearby access points. It turns this data into a packet, then chooses an access point and requests association. Once association is granted (bi-directionally), the tag sends the data packet, which is routed to a server for processing. Once this transaction is completed, the tag normally disassociates from the AP.
  7. 7. How Wi-Fi-based Active RFID Works | 7 • Beaconing vs. Association The association method has multiple significant drawbacks that are eliminated by the beaconing method. Combined, these drawbacks result in low scalability, high level of maintenance and negative network effects for associating tags. While beaconing tags have been proven to comfortably scale into the tens of thousands, associating tags have been limited by these drawbacks to installations of fewer than 1000 tags. Specific drawbacks of association include the following: - Associating tags require IP addresses, like any client device. Having enough IP addresses (static or dynamic) to handle large numbers of tags is an IT management challenge for even the most capable of enterprises. - Associating tags are required to transmit a much larger packet of data, because the signal strength is measured, collected and reported by the tag rather than the access point. These tag messages consume a much more significant percentage of bandwidth than beaconing tag messages, and large numbers of tags cause high network load. - The association process and the higher level of activity on associating tags consume more battery power, and rapidly drain tag battery life. In addition, it results in unnecessary network load and overhead on the WLAN access points and switches. - Associating tags that use dynamically assigned IP addresses can be subject to a delay of as much as several seconds while the tag goes through the association process, in addition to causing high network load. - Because associating tags depend on receiving and measuring reliable and repeatable signal strength information from access points, any changes in the WLAN environment can negatively affect accuracy. For this reason, vendors of associating tags require customers to turn off all advanced “dynamic” or self- correcting features on their networks.
  8. 8. 8 | How AeroScout tags work with standard Wireless LANs How AeroScout tags work with standard Wireless LANs In order for AeroScout tags and the beaconing method to be recognized by a customer’s access points, AeroScout has completed integration with multiple leading WLAN vendors. This process is necessary in order to ensure that the tag’s unassociated message is accepted, measured and routed by the AP to the appropriate server for processing. To date, the majority of Enterprise WLAN vendors have recognized the advantages of the beaconing method and its importance for the performance of the WLAN network, and have embraced this method. • Integration Process All WLAN access point vendors release periodic firmware upgrades for their customers, which enable new features and capabilities. AeroScout has developed a common set of guidelines that enables these vendors to build the ability to recognize AeroScout tags messages into their firmware quickly and easily. This integration method can be directed to route tag messages to a Location Engine. In all cases, though, integration involves two main capabilities: - The ability for access points to accept and measure messages broadcasted by AeroScout tags - The ability for the WLAN vendor’s hardware to report tag messages along with the measured parameters to a location engine Once integration has been completed, it is released as part of the WLAN vendor’s standard firmware upgrade – authored, tested and approved by the WLAN vendor. Customers can use their legacy hardware with AeroScout by accepting the standard firmware upgrade, and new access points are shipped with the capability standard. No AeroScout-proprietary software changes to WLAN equipment are required. • Functionality Through integration with AeroScout, WLAN vendors can enable a broad set of location capabilities. Generally, all advanced features of the AeroScout system are enabled based on this integration, as information is passed through from the access point to the AeroScout Engine for processing. These features include: - Real-time location of tags using RSSI - Location of client devices using RSSI (in most cases) - Choke-point detection of tags, triggered by Exciters - Call button messages, triggered using a button on the tag - Sensor and telemetry data, retrieved by the tag and sent as part of the packet
  9. 9. Common Misconceptions about Wi-Fi-based Active RFID | 9 Common Misconceptions about Wi-Fi-based Active RFID Wi-Fi-based Active RFID systems are a disruptive and fast-growing force in the Active RFID market. As such, common industry knowledge is imperfect and there are several misconceptions and inaccuracies about Wi-Fi that are often presented. In this section, we will discuss several of the most common misconceptions about Wi-Fi-based Active RFID systems. • Tag battery life It is commonly stated that Wi-Fi tags have extremely short battery life and that they require daily or frequent recharging / replacement. This is not true for tags that operate in the beaconing method. This misconception is based on associating tags, which do indeed require higher battery consumption (and sometimes recharging). AeroScout tags are not, and have never been, affected by this issue. AeroScout tags can reach 4 years and more (AeroScout has designed a long-life tag, up to 8 years, for special circumstances). • Strain on Wi-Fi network Wi-Fi tags are designed to work simultaneously with other Wi-Fi traffic (data, voice, etc.) without interrupting that traffic or placing undue strain on the network. Contrary to some vendors’ statements, thousands of Wi-Fi tags can easily co-exist with other devices on a network, without requiring more than 1% of network throughput. Again, this is an area where beaconing tags have an advantage over associating tags. It would take more than 25,000 AeroScout tags within the range of one single access point (practically a physical impossibility), beaconing every 10 seconds, to overtake that access point’s bandwidth. Also, AeroScout utilizes a clear channel assessment technique to ensure that tag messages do not interfere with other Wi-Fi traffic, as well as motion sensing techniques which enable the tags to send out messages less frequently when not in motion. • Tracking people One of the most commonly stated misconceptions about Wi-Fi-based tracking systems is that, because Wi-Fi has difficulties transmitting through water, Wi-Fi systems cannot track people. This is completely a myth - the power levels used enable the signal to reach receiving units regardless of human-based interference. Wi-Fi systems have been proven to track people without issue in many successful and ongoing installations. • Electromagnetic interference As with any radio technology, the issue of electromagnetic interference (EMI) is critical when working in sensitive and equipment-rich environments, and Wi-Fi is no exception. In order to ensure that AeroScout technology does not interfere with other critical equipment, AeroScout has successfully met a wide range of standards and certifications. In addition, the company has passed the IEC 60601-1-2 certification, a major international standard accepted by the FDA, demonstrating non-interference for hospitals. Please see specific product data sheets for certification listings.
  10. 10. 10 | Specific Integrations with WLAN Vendors Specific Integrations with WLAN Vendors This section lists the various WLAN vendors that have completed and tested integration with AeroScout tags and software, the required firmware version and/or model numbers, and any unique characteristics of the integration. New and recent WLAN products at the appropriate firmware level (or beyond) work with AeroScout out of the box; legacy products can generally be upgraded by the WLAN vendor to the appropriate firmware. It is important to note that in all cases, the firmware has been developed solely by the WLAN vendor, was jointly tested by the WLAN vendor and AeroScout, and released to the public by the WLAN vendor. The use of AeroScout solutions does not require any proprietary software changes to WLAN equipment. • Cisco Systems: Centralized Architecture Cisco’s centralized, or “LWAPP” (Lightweight Access Point Protocol) architecture is unique among AeroScout integrations in that tag messages are routed to the Cisco Wireless Location Appliance, rather than the AeroScout Engine (as is the case in all other integrations below). The Cisco Location Appliance determines location using the RSSI method and sends the processed location information to AeroScout MobileView. AeroScout tags can also utilize the Cisco CCX Tag format, which enables the Location Appliance to process advanced tag information. Required products: Cisco Controllers Firmware 4.0 or above; Cisco 2710 Location Appliance Firmware 2.0 or above • Cisco Systems: Autonomous Architecture Cisco’s autonomous architecture (non-switched distributed architecture) sends tag information directly from the access points to the AeroScout Engine for location processing. Required products: Access point firmware 12.3(4) or above • Aruba Networks The Aruba WLAN solution can send tag information directly from the controllers to the AeroScout Engine for location processing. Required Products: WLAN firmware 3.1 and above • Trapeze Networks The Trapeze WLAN solution can send tag information directly from the controllers to the AeroScout Engine for location processing. Required Products: WLAN firmware 5.0 and above • Nortel Networks The Nortel WLAN solution (based on Trapeze) can send tag information directly from the controllers to the AeroScout Engine for location processing. Required Products: WLAN firmware 5.0 and above
  11. 11. Specific Integrations with WLAN Vendors | 11 • 3Com The 3Com WLAN solution (based on Trapeze) can send tag information directly from the controllers to the AeroScout Engine for location processing. Required Products: WLAN firmware 5.0 and above • Extricom The Extricom WLAN solution can send tag information directly from the controllers to the AeroScout Engine for location processing. Required Products: WLAN firmware 3.2 and above • Other WLAN vendors in the process of completing integration include Symbol (Motorola), Meru, and NEC. In these cases, the appropriate firmware version is currently TBD.
  12. 12. 12 | Future Growth and Developments Future Growth and Developments AeroScout, industry analysts and major technology vendors all believe that Wi-Fi will be the dominant technology in the real-time location systems market, due to the benefits listed above. For this reason, AeroScout is committed to fueling growth by developing on the 802.11 standard rather than redundant, proprietary or competing over-the-air interfaces such as the recent ISO 24730. As an example, one strong area of growth in location tracking is that of systems using “TDOA”, or Time Difference of Arrival, to determine location in outdoor and wide- open environments. AeroScout has developed a solution using the 802.11 over-the-air interface for such systems. This eliminates the artificial need for a tag to broadcast in multiple frequencies as it passes between environments – both RSSI and TDOA can be measured with the same 802.11 signal. Conclusion The AeroScout solution is designed to provide customers the greatest flexibility and enterprise location features at the lowest total cost of ownership. This paper has discussed several of the ways in which AeroScout delivers a highly differentiated and innovative solution: • Use of the Wi-Fi standard as a communications protocol to reduce costs and increase ease of installation and upkeep; • Use of the tag beaconing method to increase scalability and reduce network impact; • Relationships with the full set of leading WLAN equipment vendors, to ensure compatibility and reliability
  13. 13. Contact Information | 13 Contact Information Web site: www.aeroscout.com Sales and general requests: info@aeroscout.com AeroScout, Inc. (Headquarters) 1300 Island Drive Suite 202 Redwood City, CA 94065 Tel: +1 (650) 596-2994 Fax: +1 (650) 596-2969 ______________________ AeroScout EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) Pegasus Park Pegasuslaan 5 B-1831 Diegem Belgium Tel: +32 2 709 29 49 Fax: +32 (2) 791 9028 E-mail: emea@aeroscout.com AeroScout Japan Co., Ltd. Ichibancho K.K. Bldg 7F, 13-8 Ichibancho Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo 102-0082, Japan Tel: +81 (3) 3556 9003 Fax: +81 (3) 3556 5370 E-mail: info@aeroscout.co.jp AeroScout ANZ (Australia & New Zealand) Tel: +61 3 9038 8690 AeroScout Israel (R&D) 3 Pekeris St. Einstein Entrance 4th Floor Rehovot, Israel 76702 Tel: +972 (8) 9369393

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