RFID
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Why I need moisture-sensing RFID tags in my house

I recently had the opportunity to view some exciting technology developed by RF Micron and Smatrac that can be used to sense moisture in all kinds of products. The companies plan to embed the moisture-sensing RFID tags into construction materials, car seats and even adult diapers.

I have another use case to add to the list. The passive UHF chips, which are also capable of monitoring temperature and pressure, could have come in handy during a recent incident at my home.

After returning from a business trip, I discovered that a slow water leak in my decades-old furnace had flooded a portion of my basement.

RFID in construction

Smartrac and RF Controls have teamed up to produce an RFID tag that can sense moisture.

There was a significant amount of water damage from the failure of a $27 furnace valve. If one of the moisture-sensing RFID tags was affixed to my furnace, and perhaps a couple were embedded into the concrete floor beneath the furnace, I could have received early warning that a problem existed. I likely could have called my plumber the minute the tag sensed that very first drop of water, and the problem would have been fixed long before it morphed into a bigger issue.

Such is the future as RFID and sensor technology drive the Internet of Things. How many times have you left your car window or sunroof open at night, only for an unexpected rain storm to move through, leaving your car seats soaking wet? Car seats with embedded moisture sensing RFID tags could send an alert to your cell phone or mobile device to go out and close the sunroof.

Hal Steele, vice president of global sales at RFMicron, says that a major car manufacturer is already piloting the moisture sensing tags in car seats.

In addition, RF Micron recently participated in a clinical trial at a healthcare facility for elderly residents. The study consisted of attaching peel and stick moisture sensing RFID tags to the outside of adult diapers, which are then scanned to indicate whether they need to be changed. A larger clinical trial is scheduled to begin this month.

The solution could play a big role in treating incontinent patients in nursing homes, who are vulnerable to urinary tract infections (UTIs) and skin conditions. An RFID-enabled solution would help long-term care facilities to address potential liability costs associated with federal and state guidelines.

The solution relies on SMARTRAC’s Sensor DogBone, a passive UHF single-chip sensor solution that works on both low- and high-dielectric materials like cardboard, plastics, stone, wood and construction materials. It is deployable where active or semi-active sensors are not practical.

Introducing new features to the company’s inlay and tag product range, this RFID sensor is based around a passive UHF inlay equipped with RFMicron’s Magnus(R)S IC. The sensor accurately detects and measures moisture levels of the surrounding environment, and the data is digitized and wirelessly communicated to off-the-shelf readers using a standard UHF Gen 2 protocol.

“RFMicron’s collaboration with SMARTRAC provides customers with a new sensor choice that opens up a wide range of applications and environments to help make the Internet of Things a reality,” says Steele.

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