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Method and apparatus for locating and tracking chemical containers

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000004381D
Publication Date: 2000-Oct-20
Document File: 5 page(s) / 14K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

An apparatus and method are described for a radio frequency chemical inventory control system that enables the location of chemical containers to be automatically and rapidly identified. A host transceiver, controlled via a PC, transmits a coded RF signal, at a first frequency, to individually addressable, low cost, local exciters/transceivers located on shelves or in drawers. The local exciters, which may be sequentially addressed, retransmit the coded RF signal at a second frequency via an antenna. A passive radio frequency identification tag, containing the same code as that transmitted by the local exciter and attached to a chemical container when in the vicinity of the antenna of the local exciter, is energized by the RF field and modulates the second frequency signal from the local exciter. The second frequency signal modulated by the energized tag is then directly received by the host transceiver. A PC, coupled to the host transceiver, enables the system to automatically and rapidly identify, down to a specific shelf or drawer, the location of tagged chemical containers in a laboratory or plant environment.

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Method and apparatus for locating and tracking chemical containers

Abstract

An apparatus and method are described for a radio frequency chemical inventory control system that enables the location of chemical containers to be automatically and rapidly identified. A host transceiver, controlled via a PC, transmits a coded RF signal, at a first frequency, to individually addressable, low cost, local exciters/transceivers located on shelves or in drawers. The local exciters, which may be sequentially addressed, retransmit the coded RF signal at a second frequency via an antenna. A passive radio frequency identification tag, containing the same code as that transmitted by the local exciter and attached to a chemical container when in the vicinity of the antenna of the local exciter, is energized by the RF field and modulates the second frequency signal from the local exciter. The second frequency signal modulated by the energized tag is then directly received by the host transceiver. A PC, coupled to the host transceiver, enables the system to automatically and rapidly identify, down to a specific shelf or drawer, the location of tagged chemical containers in a laboratory or plant environment.

Background

Most research laboratories and research and development laboratories accumulate large numbers of chemical containers. Often it is difficult to locate a specific container of a certain chemical among multiple containers of many different chemicals when needed, leading to unnecessary purchasing of duplicate containers of the same chemical, which accumulate. The disposal of duplicate chemicals purchased to replace misplaced chemicals is extremely expensive, and is an ogoing cost for laboratories, which usually have legal limits with respect to the quantities of chemicals that can be stored on site. (Disposal costs far exceed the purchase cost of chemicals.) Thus, it is desirable that a chemical container be quickly located, not only to avoid delays in conducting research and analyses, but to avoid the need for duplicate ordering to replace misplaced chemicals. Therefore, there is a need for effective means of locating chemical containers when needed.

THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to using RFID tags to automatically locate and/or to track chemical containers on shelves, refrigerators, in drawers or in metal cabinets in laboratories or plants, warehouses or other settings.

Further, the present invention provides an RF system architecture in which the tag's modulated signal, which results from the RF signal that excites the tag, is communicated directly from the tag to a host transceiver. The local transceiver of the present invention can be referred to as a "local exciter." Such an architecture may significantly reduce the number of receivers in the total RF system and dramatically reduce the system cost and complexity when compared to the prior art.

The present invention provides a system and method for utilizing high frequency tags fo...