Energy harvesting RFID temperature sensor battles Covid-19

September 30, 2020 // By Nick Flaherty
Energy harvesting temperature sensor battles Covid-19
Powercast has teamed with Microchip on an energy harvesting RFID Temperature Scanning System to monitor employee temperatures to address the Covid-19 pandemic.

The system developed by Powercast in the US is comprised of an energy harvesting temperature-scanning fob for each employee, an RFID reader, and a TV monitor. Employees receive a fob small enough to fit onto their keychain that is personalized to them. The fob quickly charges when held near an RFID reader at the entrance to a site using Powercast's patented power harvesting technology. Employees scan their own forehead using the fob to read their temperature, and are permitted to enter or are denied entry based on the reading, which appears on the monitor.

For larger organizations and those on corporate campuses, multiple readers can be used to keep a record for contact tracing if issues arise. Once employees take their temperature when entering the building, they can return the fob to their pocket and do not need to remove it again for location tracking. In the case of Covid-19 exposure, timestamped information can be automatically gathered from the readers to ensure that all potentially exposed employees are notified.

Powercast's Temperature Scanning System is already in use at its headquarters in Pittsburgh's RIDC Park. The RFID reader antenna is integrated into the company's check-in counter, enabling fast, hands-free screening. During the first 12 days, the system took a total of 300 readings, which were as accurate as a traditional handheld thermometer.

Wireless power provides a distinct advantage over handheld devices that are shared and hard to maintain germ-free, or other modes that require employees to stop and write down their information, potentially sharing pens and creating a blockage at entry points. 

"We designed this new Temperature Scanning System to take advantage of proven technologies that can be quickly and easily implemented by companies of all sizes so that they can get back to work, safely and without a huge imposition to workers," said Dr Charles Greene, chief operating and technical officer of Powercast. "This is one of many ways we are applying wireless power to solve real-world problems and eliminate some of the limits of other alternatives."

The RFID Temperature Scanning System uses RAIN RFID readers as its source of RF wireless power. The System's over-the-air RF harvesting technology can harness RF energy from Powercast's own PowerSpot or Powercaster RF wireless power transmitters, or from industry standard UHF RFID readers.


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