Intelligent tracking application rolling out in SA

April 2011 Security Services & Risk Management

South Africa is leading the way in the application of RF Controls’ 3D intelligent tracking and control system (ITCS) with the roll-out of a pilot project that takes the sophisticated technology to a new, very different level.

Developed by Johannesburg-based auto-identification specialist company Harmonic Solutions, the new ITCS application has been installed successfully at two sites in Gauteng and is currently being rolled out to three more across the province.

Harmonic Group CEO, Barry Baetu, explained that ITCS was an advance on conventional barcode technology. “First, there were barcodes; then came RFID – barcodes on the move. Now there is ITCS: ultra-smart RF (radio frequency) technology that does not only identify a tagged item (assets and inventory), it also tells you exactly where that item is – and where it is moving to – in three dimensions, in real-time.”

The pilot involves the installation of just four smart antennas to cover an area of some 3000 m², enabling real-time location – height as well as position – within the space of 1m³ (one cubic metre) of 500 moving items. The system also tracks the speeds and directions of tag movements.

The data collected about each moving item is then fed back to an intelligent application that analyses the changing reads and prompts the system to take further appropriate action. According to Baetu, ITCS has potential application in the retail, logistics, EAS (electronic article surveillance) and inventory tracking applications.

United States-based RF Controls has developed ITCS as a standards-based automatic data capture system. It achieves wide area zonal monitoring using smart antenna technology. Items are labelled using widely available, standard, inexpensive, passive or battery-assisted passive UHF RFID tags. These are used to identify, locate and track the tagged items in a three-dimensional space in


The smart antenna technology at the heart of ITCS can accurately determine the locations of RFID tags to within 30 cm in 3D. This advanced antenna system incorporates complex mathematical algorithms and signal processing techniques, similar to those that have been applied to military target acquisition and tracking systems.

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