Fujitsu has developed an RFID (radio frequency ID) tag that can be put through the washing machine and still come out smelling of roses – or at least transmitting.
The RFID tag, encased in a soft plastic shell, can be attached to any textile and be washed, ironed and pressed at least 100 times and survive, said Midori Taniyama, of Fujitsu's RFID systems department. Sample tags are being demonstrated today and tomorrow at a company event in Tokyo as part of a laundry management system.
At the start of the system is a scanner through which incoming items are passed. The tags operate in the UHF band (at 952MHz to 955MHz) and can be read at distances of up to 1.2m. This means tags on all the items in a basket of laundry can be read in a few seconds. From there the garments progress into the washing system.
At each stage in the laundering process it's possible to place sensors to quickly determine the location of any item. Extending the sensor network beyond washing to the pick-up and delivery system creates a complete linen or garment management system.
Trials are already underway with a handful of linen rental companies. Fujitsu will promote the system to any organisation that handles a large amount of textile goods, such as hospitals, hotels, commercial laundry services and leisure facilities, said Taniyama.
Currently the tags cost around ¥200 (about £1) but Fujitsu hopes to bring down this price to around ¥100 (£0.50) within two years with mass production, she said.