Radio system might track military assets

The military may soon be using small radio devices to keep track of equipment that needs to be loaded onto ships, trains and planes in preparation for deployment.

Unisys Corp. and WhereNet Corp. signed an agreement March 12 making Unisys a reseller to the military of Where--Net's real-time location technology. The companies initially signed a co-marketing agreement in March 2000 under which Unisys analyzed WhereNet's local-positioning product, said Harry Meisell, project manager for Unisys' total asset visibility operations and radio-frequency identification.

Now, the companies are moving into the second phase, in which Unisys will use WhereNet's radio-transmission system to provide a prototype system for the Army's Logistics Integration Agency, Meisell said. Unisys has a task order for the prototype under the $4.6 million Defense Enterprise Integration Services II contract.

"We will be reviewing the capability and potential of the product for the military," Meisell said. Testing will take place during this spring and summer, and Unisys is working with the Defense Department to select a test bed for the product, he said.

After the test, Unisys will explore other military and civilian agency sites that could use the technology, Meisell said.

WhereNet's system involves placing a radio tag half the size of a commercial pager onto a piece of equipment, said Tom Turner, WhereNet senior vice president. A series of antennas placed within a local area, such as a port, can determine the location of that asset within 10 feet, he said. The battery-operated tags, which cost about $50 each, last for several years, he said.

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