RFID kill switch could be turn-on for asset managers

June 24, 2014 – Swiftsure’s partner Impinj has joined with Intel and others to create a solution that could help track and monitor equipment, and disable stolen or lost laptops. Tech news media and blogging sites have headlined the “kill switch” feature that could discourage laptop thieves. (Or, some fear, take control of their computers.) But the system might have broader benefits for those who manage assets.

According to Swiftsure’s Bruno Riegl, this type of solution would mean that instead of event management control being on the backend, it would be embedded in the chip inside a device. “The benefit is that the device has a degree of intelligence independent of a backend information management system. Pre-chipping items can also help with inventory verification.”

Riegl added that the threat of outsiders taking control of computers is overblown since the level of encryption and security handshake between devices is unlikely to be less than currently exists on both wireline and wireless networks.

Still in development, the Intel solution would use embedded chips to monitor, track, locate and manage provisioning of equipment, including in hospitals and other organizations, as well as tracing movement of such devices as computers during shipment.

At the heart of the project is the Wireless Credential Exchange (WCE). It uses Impinj’s Monza RFID chips, Technology Solution UK’s (TSL) RFID readers and Burnside Digital‘s cloud-based data repository and dashboard.  The WCE system enables Intel’s System on Chip (SoC) to read and write data to the Monza RFID chip. The chip can also be read and be written to using an external TSL RFID reader. Data – from unique IDs and error logs and permissions to device configurations – can be written to the Monza chip and then read back to the Intel processor.

Burnside Digital designed custom Windows, iOS, and Android applications to communicate with a TSL reader using Bluetooth technology. The applications can also communicate with a cloud-based database that Burnside Digital created.

The WCE system can disable a device prior to shipping and then reactivate it when it reaches its final destination, making it useless if it were lost or stolen during shipment.

Burnside’s Website states: “By embedding Impinj Monza RFID chips inside Intel SoC-powered devices, they can be tracked, provisioned, shipped, deployed, and monitored using industry standard RFID readers such as those developed by TSL. Burnside Digital developed the software called IPTrak that ties all these components together.”