February 27, 2012

Unique RFID app tracks pachyderms

RFID technology is helping the Dallas Zoo monitor the behavior of elephants.

By DC Velocity Staff

When you think of tracking items with RFID, what comes to mind? Most likely a pallet, a case, or perhaps apparel, if you're familiar with item-level applications. But how about something bigger ...much bigger ... like an elephant?

According to a story and accompanying video in the RFID Network's e-newsletter, the Dallas Zoo is using RFID technology to track the movement of elephants in its 11-acre "Giants of the Savanna" exhibit.

Members of the small herd—six older females known as the "Golden Girls"—wear ankle bracelets outfitted with real-time locator system (RTLS) tags made by Convergence Systems Ltd. of Hong Kong. Readers located in observation towers record the elephants' position every 30 seconds, and the data are overlaid on a map of the habitat. This information graphically shows where the elephants like to go, which animals in the herd they spend the most time with, and how much exercise they're getting.

The unique system is the first such installation by Animal Performance Systems, a new company that's developing RFID applications for zoo research.

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