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Real-Time Location Systems and RFID

J. Morris Chang, Iowa State University
Yo-Ping Huang, National Taipei University of Technology, Taiwan
Simon Liu, US National Agricultural Library

Pages: pp. 12-13

Abstract—RFID has revolutionized asset tracking and new applications are constantly appearing in the fields of transportation, banking, healthcare, and security. This special issue reports on recent experiences in developing RFID applications, middleware, and security protocols.

Keywords—Real-time location systems, RFID, information technology

Over the past three decades, RFID technologies have revolutionized how we perform asset tracking. RFID applications are increasingly appearing in fields such as transportation, banking, healthcare, and security, primarily owing to decreased equipment costs, increased reliability, and widespread adoption of international standards. A passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tag is expected to cost just a few cents this year, prompting continued RFID growth.

This special issue reports on recent experiences in developing applications, middleware, and security protocols.

In the article "Real-Time Services for Special Education," Shu-Hui Yang and Pao-Ann Hsiung report on the use of RFID at a special education school in Taiwan. Six different systems help teachers and administrators monitor the campus and students, provide more guided training, and keep parents informed. Active RFID tags and readers track the students and visitors. The RFID portal platform used in this project is based on commercially available technology. This article also analyzes data gathered during project testing.

In "A Mutual Authentication Protocol for RFID," Chia-Hui Wei, Min-Shiang Hwang, and Augustin Yeh-hao Chin present a two-way authentication protocol for RFID systems. A small memory footprint and low power consumption make it challenging to design security protocols for RFID systems. In this work, the authors use a hash function to reduce the computation cost. They present a protocol of mutual authentication that can resist tracking and forward-security attacks.

In "RFID-Based Guide Gives Museum Visitors More Freedom," Yo-Ping Huang, Shan-Shan Wang, and Frode Eika Sandnes discuss how they integrated both HF and UHF RFID technologies to promote a more interactive museum experience. When a visitor moves a PDA with an RFID reader near the HF tag, the PDA displays the content associated with the discernment code. The UHF RFID technology actively attracts visitors to certain items, so it can promote some of the less-popular items. The proposed system provides a successful alternative to conventional museum guides.

In "Agent-Based Intelligent Software Exploits Near-Field Communication," Yue-Shan Chang, Chih-Tien Fan, and Yu Sheng Wu propose using NFC-driven technology to enhance the intelligence of multiple agents in ubiquitous computing. An NFC-embedded mobile device delivers multiple mobile agents and drives various applications where identification is ascertained. Using the NAS ( NFC-driven mobile- agent-based software intelligence) framework, a user can choose the proper mobile agent for a specific application from the multiple versions already stored in the mobile device. To emphasize its wide application in various domains, the authors present an example of using NAS to measure indoor power use.

The article "Real-Time Location Systems for Hospital Emergency Response," by Ivor D'Souza, Wei Ma, and Cindy Notobartolo proposes a real-time location system (RTLS) that can help hospitals treat a surge of victims during a disaster. The authors analyze how partner hospitals can exploit the RTLS to respond to medical disasters, and they discuss various challenges, such as tracking patients who are in-transit from one hospital to another. They also discuss the need for a strong partnership between personnel across all areas of the hospital workforce.

We hope the articles in this issue promote further RFID and RTLS research and applications.

About the Authors

J. Morris Chang is an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Iowa State University. His technical interests include wireless networks, object-oriented programming languages, and embedded computer systems. Chang has a PhD in computer engineering from North Carolina State University. Contact him at
Yo-Ping Huang is a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the National Taipei University of Technology, Taiwan. His research interests include data mining, artificial intelligence, multitouch display systems design, and application systems for handheld devices. Huang received his PhD in electrical engineering from Texas Tech University. He's a senior member of IEEE and a fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology. He also serves as deputy director of the Joint Commission of Technological and Vocational College Admission Committee, Taiwan. Contact him at
Simon Liu is the director of the US National Agricultural Library. His research interests include IT architecture, cybersecurity, software engineering, and database and data mining. Liu has two doctoral degrees in computer science and higher education administration from George Washington University. Contact him at
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