Smart luggage tracking and delivery takes off at Heathrow

technology: Baggage Direct launches world’s first disposable RFID system

The world’s first radiofrequency identification (RFID) smart label tracking and deliveryservice using truly disposable tags has taken off at London’s Heathrow Airport. Developed by systems integrator KTP using Texas Instruments’ ‘Tag-it’ smart label technology, the Baggage Direct service uses the smart labels to track and route passengers’ luggage from the airport to their hotel – freeing passengers from all the hassle of baggage transportation.

The system is an important part of the new baggage delivery service announced by Baggage Direct, a new subsidiary formed by British Airport Authority and launched with the backing of main partners United Airlines, Forte Hotels and Lynx Express delivery services.

The service offers automatic routing and tracking of baggage from the Baggage Direct desk located at the arrivals concourse direct to the passenger’s hotel, office or home. It guarantees delivery to London’s main hotels within three hours, and passengers can use the internet to check on the whereabouts of theirluggage at every stage and verify final delivery. Baggage Direct also plans to equip top London hotels with RFID readers that will automatically trigger a text message to the passenger’s mobile phone via the internet telling them that their baggage has safely arrived at the hotel.

The system was developed by KTP, a leading integrator of RFID and bar-code systems, and CMS, a specialist in software and internet facilities for the courier delivery business. KTP pioneered the concept using TI’s Tag-it 13.56MHz smart label tags for this baggage tracking application, and has developed and proven the hardware, including specialluggage tunnel readers that identify baggage at each stage.

CMS was responsible for the software system, which also allows passengers to track the progress and verify delivery of their luggage to the hotel via the internet.

The service is targeted at the ever-increasing number of long-haul passengers using Heathrow, the world’s busiest international airport. Many are faced with the prospect of travelling intoLondon with baggage, often to hotels where they cannot check in until the afternoon. Each day over 21,000 passengers pass through Heathrow before 8am.

‘This unique service puts London way ahead in the innovative use of smart label technology to provide a totally hassle-free service for passengers,’ said Derek Jewson, managing director of Baggage Direct. ‘Baggage Direct provides a simple yet secure way for travellers to know their baggage is being taken care of and delivered to their hotel safely, with tracking all the way,’ he added.

Baggage Direct intends to extend the service to all terminals at Heathrow as well as to other UK airports and internationally.

Jon Lowe, managing director of systems integrator KTP, said: ‘The Baggage Direct contract was won following our successful experience in roll-cage tracking for Lynx Express. Smart labels are a relatively new technology and we chose to work with TI’s Tag-it inlays for the simplereason that it is the world leader in RFID technology and its support is second to none.’ David Hyslop, Texas Instruments’ UK sales manager, said: ‘Smart labels were originallyconceived for once-only disposable use and this is the first fully disposable RFID application of its kind anywhere in the world. We are delighted that TI’s Tag-it smart label technology has been selected for Baggage Direct.’ Passengers can pre-book and prepay for the Baggage Direct service via the web.