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Singapore – The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and local IOT start-up Workz Pte. Ltd (IOT Workz) is pleased to announce a joint collaboration to develop and produce an asset tracking and tracing system that can be adopted for indoor and outdoor applications based on a wireless powered sensor network.

Founded and based in Singapore, IOT Workz is a multi-dimensional intelligent solution provider for the Internet of Things (IoT) and the company has licensed A*STAR’s wireless location system for asset tracking to create various applications practice. By combining A*STAR’s research capabilities and expertise in UI application development with IOT Workz’s strengths in solution integration, the two parties have jointly developed a tracking system assets that can automatically track the physical location of hospital wheelchairs, which typically number in the hundreds per hospital. .

Battery-powered wireless tag device installed on 150 wheelchairs at KTPH. Credit: IOT Workz

This asset tracking system has been tested and then deployed to 150 wheelchairs at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) since April 2021, in common areas such as wheelchair parking areas, parking halls as well as wheelchair parks outside specialist outpatient clinics. Wireless beacons are attached as beacons to the wheelchairs, and the beacons send location information to network devices installed in strategic positions within the hospital.

The data is then presented on a mobile app, and hospital staff, such as Patient Service Associates (PSAs), can easily monitor and track the location of the wheelchairs. They are notified when wheelchair numbers in designated key areas are low and need to be replenished, as well as in which areas they may find excess wheelchairs. This has improved staff productivity and helps to ensure the constant availability of wheelchairs for patients.

The app’s intuitive digital dashboard is easy to use and shows at a glance which wheelchairs need to be serviced, further improving the hospital’s overall wheelchair productivity and safety.

This project was supported by Gap Funding from the Enterprise division of A*STAR, where funding and resources are awarded to support the translation of research into impactful new products and services that benefit the economy and society and to support the commercialization of new technologies based on an A *STAR Technologies license. Besides tracking wheelchairs in hospitals, other potential applications of the wireless location system include industrial IoT, smart buildings, and environmental monitoring.

The technology behind the wireless tracking system for asset tracking

The asset tracking system includes a radio frequency (RF) energy harvesting interface to recharge the battery, a power management unit, and a ZigBee system-on-chip (SoC) to support data connectivity.

A*STAR’s Institute of Microelectronics (IME) has created a miniaturized antenna solution for radio frequency (RF) energy harvesting with higher sensitivity than commercially available solutions. By applying RF energy harvesting capability to sensor nodes or end terminals, the system helps extend battery life and improve operational efficiency. This is complemented by ZigBee network protocols and A*STAR’s Institute for Infocomm Research (I²R) firmware.

Interior of a wireless tag device, which transmits wheelchair location and battery status information to a coordinator via ZigBee wireless technology. Credit: IOT Workz

The asset tracking system leverages this differentiation technology with Zigbee Mesh topology to provide coarse location of over 300 existing wheelchairs at KTPH premises, further improving engineering to provide long-range transmission. Since the end-to-end solution relies on both hardware and software, these features work in synergy for energy-efficient operation, providing a wireless solution for asset tracking and monitoring, including maintenance. predictive. With this advancement, end users can expect to power the system for a longer duration and achieve greater profitability. Such systems are useful for applications where human intervention is limited, such as in chemical plants.

“IME, alongside other A*STAR research entities, works with local SMEs to address industry challenges by leveraging innovative technologies. This wireless sensor technology will facilitate the adoption of IoT in various sectors such as machine health monitoring in heavy industries, microclimate sensing in agriculture, smart home solutions and in food factories. manufacturing where limited human access is preferred due to hazardous conditions,” said Mr. Terence Gan, IME Executive Director of A*STAR.

“With A*STAR, supported by KTPH and Singapore Polytechnic interns, we are the first to provide location trackers with over-the-air wireless charging. The sensor network we have developed is further expandable to cover all areas of hospital to achieve active tracking and monitoring of wheelchairs that will improve the productivity and safety of these hospital assets used daily by patients.Our collaboration with A*STAR has improved our service offerings, enabling us to target new new market segments and create new opportunities for us to partner with local manufacturers to develop new solutions. We look forward to further developing our long-term working relationship with A*STAR to add value to the technology and manufacturing ecosystem in Singapore,” said Mr. Shawn Koh, Founder of IOT Workz.

“At KTPH, we are always looking for opportunities to improve our patient experience through technical innovation. A large majority of our patients require wheelchairs to get around KTPH. Wheelchairs are parked in several locations for the convenience of our patients and will require regular maintenance. Previously, our staff could spend more than 30 minutes searching for “lost” wheelchairs, but now their real-time location is available. This allows our patient relations associates and maintenance colleagues to reload wheelchairs if needed and bring all wheelchairs in for servicing in a timely manner. The time saved can now be used to care for patients,” said Ms. Yen Tan, COO of KTPH.

“Given the successful implementation, this system could be scaled to track other high-motion equipment. We are also exploring areas such as recording temperature data, monitoring lighting conditions or controlling external devices. By leveraging modern technology to deliver innovative solutions, we can improve the efficiency and productivity of all of our hospital’s operations and processes. »