Southeastern's Wyld evaluates RuBee technology
Contact: Rene Abadie
HAMMOND – The relatively new RuBee automatic identification technology offers businesses and operations a number of advantages over the more established radio frequency identification (RFID) but doesn’t necessarily replace RFID, according to a study recently completed by a Southeastern Louisiana University business professor.
“RuBee is an emerging technology and there’s still considerable work that needs to be done to see how this technology will be applied in appropriate and cost-effective manners, but we anticipate that it will serve as both an alternative and a complement to RFID technology in a number of settings,” said David C. Wyld, Robert Maurin Professor of Management at Southeastern.
Wyld’s evaluation of RuBee appeared in a recent issue of “Management Research News.” A noted RFID consultant and writer, he directs the Strategic e-Commerce/e-Government Initiative in Southeastern’s College of Business.
RuBee and RFID are both product-tracking technologies, making use of tiny antennas embedded in a product or its packaging. Reader hardware automatically tracks the products, making it valuable in inventory control and supply chain management. They differ, however, in that RuBee uses magnetic energy rather than the electrical or radio frequency energy used in RFID.
“RFID has been heralded as a breakthrough technology that will, over time, supplant the barcode as the unique identifier of materials,” Wyld said. “RuBee, however, provides answers to some of the vexing problems associated with the RFID market today. As such, this could be one of the most exciting developments in some time in the area of automatic identification.”
Because the technology uses low frequencies that are not as affected by water and metal, RuBee tags can be read in and around environments that contain high amounts of liquid and metal far more accurately than traditional RFID, he explained. In addition, RuBee has been shown to have a far greater read range than RFID tags.
“The key downside element of the RuBee technology in comparison to RFID is a slower read rate,” Wyld said. “RFID tags can be read at 100-200 per second, while the read rates for RuBee tags are approximately 6-10 per second. This makes RuBee impractical for most supply chain and shipping applications.”
The slower read rates associated with RuBee could actually work in its favor in other venues, Wyld said, including animal identification, assuring product authenticity and in medical applications. While the read rates for RuBee are far slower, the read accuracy of RuBee tags has been shown to be superior in tests and pilot applications.
Wyld sees RuBee’s value will prove itself in tagging high-value, critical need items in health care applications, such as in emergency departments, operating rooms and intensive care units. RuBee tags, he said, could also be implanted in livestock and domesticated animals as well as exotic animals on farms, in zoos or in high-value breeding operations such as horse farms.
“In these venues, it’s essential to properly outfit and monitor equipment, operations and vehicles, he said. “In the medical environment, RuBee tags could be used in patient wristtbands and surgical devices to prevent medical errors. RuBee could also provide new levels of security when used for employee access cards and identification badges, enabling larger spaces to be monitored with less infrastructure costs.
“This is an exciting period in the development of radio and magnetic identification technologies,” he added. “And, just as we have seen with RFID, RuBee technology will likely find unexpected and surprising applications in the coming years.”