Hitachi updates WLAN tags for goods, employees

Hitachi Ltd. this week updated its AirLocation II system, which uses WLAN (wireless LAN) technology to track goods and employees, with the introduction of a smaller tag.

Unveiled in July, the AirLocation II is comprised of access points and battery-powered tags. The system determines the location of tags by comparing the strength of their signals as received by different access points, as well as the differences in time between when these signals are received.

In this way, the AirLocation II system can identify the location of a tag within 1 meter to 3 meters of its actual position, Hitachi said. The system has a range of up to 50 meters when used indoors, and up to 200 meters outside.

The latest addition to the system is the AirLocation II Tag-w, which is smaller and slightly thicker than its predecessor, the AirLocation II Tag. The new tags, unveiled at this week's Ceatec exhibition in Chiba, Japan, cost ¥25,000 (US$212) each.

AirLocation II is designed for schools, hospitals and logistics centers, said Katsuyoshi Iida, a project engineer at Hitachi. The system can be used to track the location of teachers inside schools, as well as to track doctors and medicines inside a hospital, he said.

The system can also track the location of laptops and other devices that have WLAN support, Iida said.

The basic AirLocation II package includes four access points and up to six tags. The cost of this package, including engineering fees and software, starts at ¥3.75 million. The system is only available in Japan.

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