Using RFID Tags in a Meetup

Last week we hosted the NativeScript SV MeetUp at our office in downtown Palo Alto.  The meeting focused on using NativeScript in combination with CloudBase but we added RFID tags to spice the event, and I think the result was very successful.

The use of RFID tags was a variation on how we used them for the ProgressNEXT Event in Las Vegas earlier in the year.  We prepared holders for all the attendees, with space for their name at the front and an RFID tag at the back.

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We used the EOS-300 R6 RFID Paper Tag.  This one has 96 bits unique, serialized data that we used as a UID (for the progressNEXT event we used a GRAI encoding, but for this MeetUP I didn’t want to go through the extra step of customizing the tags).

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We also added a small pokemon to each badge.

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We later used some larger pokemons (from TakaraTomy) as part of the raffle (more on that below).

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The active elements of the setup included some RFID antennas

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connected to an RFID reader via coax cables…

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connected to a Raspberry Pi 3 that was running an M2MBridge Gateway from AMTech

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The M2MBridge supports many edge protocols, including LLRP, which it uses to control the reader.  The bridge generates observations that correspond to the RFID tags read, which are then sent to an AMTech tenant, where we run some simple rules to create objects when a new tag (i.e. a new MeetUp attendee) is detected.

The AMTech tenant was also configured to provide Notifications (JSON objects pushed through a WebSocket).  We connected a Node.js app to it (on Modulus) that we used to randomly select UIDs (from the RFID tags) for the raffle.

The 96-bit UIDs are unique but somewhat unwieldy, so we wrote a shorter unique number at the back of each tag and we mapped the UIDs to these.  We called those numbers at the raffle and everything worked like a charm.  A cuter, but more time-consuming approach, would have been to name each tag after the name of the pokemon character in their holder.  Pikachu, I choose you!

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