The Tag’s Project promoters proposed to develop active safety systems that quickly would become a standard for the Portuguese national and international market, using universal technology infrastructure and increasingly widespread throughout the world, including WIFI and 3G networks, among others.
This project was financially supported by QREN with money from the European Fund for Regional Development.
Simultaneously, and as quickly as possible, the team made all the efforts to develop the required software to safely manage the entire technology infrastructure, establishing protocols for that purpose with various entities to ensure the proper use of existing communication networks.
The primary objective was within two years to be able to develop a security tag of micro dimensions, capable of communicating with the 3G and Wi-Fi networks, ensuring an efficient location of any object in any place with the minimum error and without compromising the privacy of their owners.
Several objectives of this project were successfully reached and consolidated. The Research and Development team proved to be able to achieve, among several degrees of difficulty, to interpret its specific targets and create a set of synergies that allowed achieving a large number of the proposed tasks.
The personal mishap with one of the technicians, definitely lead to an additional workload for the rest of the team, at least until his full replacement. Since this point and with the whole crew complete, the project returned to its normal rhythm, partially constrained by the technical issues that were encountered, particularly regarding the batteries of tags and Wi-Fi chips, which over the past three years have suffered major changes, especially in terms of size, which is currently more than double of the originally planned, which prevents the miniaturization of the tags to the dimensions provided in the initial project.
Secondly, the energy consumption of the chips has increased dramatically, so the use of very small batteries becomes totally impossible, preventing the creation of a tag in accordance with the initial assumptions.
In terms of technique specifications, the software is divided into three main components: First, a Data Center Management Module – Developed up on a relational database – IBM DB2 – in RPG, Cobol and CLP languages, this module allows the complete management of tags, events, customers as well as all the information becoming from the tags and Box’s. Second, a Box Management Module – The software installed in the Box’s customers is developed in HTML, PHP, CSS and runs on Apache / Tomcat on a Linux distro (Linux Variation).
Through this software, customers can register their tags, add information about the protected goods and provide the data to the data center. Accessorily, this resident software box allows integration with the various ISPs and the bi-directional data communication. And finally, a workflow Information Module – This software, that is also present in the Data Center, allows the equipment ‘s monitoring in real time, triggering alerts whenever one of the tags is moved from the pre-defined security zone, or whenever there is need to update batteries, devices’ errors, etc.
Having a look at the Box, the main specifications were the following:
- SoC (System on a Chip): Broadcom BCM2835 (CPU, GPU, DSP and SDRAM)
- CPU: 700 MHz ARM1176JZF-S core (ARM11 family)
- GPU: Broadcom VideoCore IV, OpenGL ES 2.0, 1080p30 decoder
- H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC7
- Memory (SDRAM): 512 MB (shared with GPU)
- USB 2.0 ports: 2 (via integrated USB hub)
- Video Outputs: 2 – RCA Composite (PAL & NTSC), HDMI (rev 1.3 & 1.4), LCD panels via DSI
- Onboard storage: SD / MMC / SDIO card slot
- Network onboard: 10/100 Ethernet (RJ45)
- Low-level peripherals: 8 × GPIO, UART, I²C, SPI chip with two selectors, +3.3 V, +5 V
- Power ratings: 700 mA (3.5 W)
- Power Source: 5 Volt via MicroUSB or GPIO header
- Size: 85.60 mm × 53.98 mm18
- Operating System: Debian GNU / Linux, Fedora, Arch Linux
- Enclosure Box: Not required but present.
Globally, The project, with start date scheduled for July 1, 2011 and conclusion in the end of June, 2013 (now extended to December 31, 2013), was executed within the normal R&D projects standards, even that we might had, all over the process, a set of issues that were completely impossible to preview. Among the technical imponderables, associated to the necessary human resources for the proper implementation of the project, we would like to highlight the following items:
First of all, the difficulty in hiring some of the technicians with the desired profile that the project required, which have dragged this process until September 2011, leading it to a considerable delay in our initial planning.
Second, and as mentioned previously, the major research technician has left the project and his full replacement was only completed in June 2012. As the main resource, all his knowledge had to be absorbed by the others, which delayed significantly the initial planning.
And finally, as also express before, we faced significant overall technical changes, specifically regarding to the Wi-Fi chips’ technology (new standards and protocols) and the gradual extinction of 3G technology and replacement by 4G / LTE chips, that are larger and require significant adjustments in terms of material and physical approach. These changes also led to several difficulties in finding batteries with the appropriate size and adequate capacity and durability.
More information about the company, the project and the funding can be found at www.idiomadica.com