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Wireless Item Label Locator (WILL). The Third Eye Ltd. Tongxin Feng, CEO Jieun Choi, VPRD Sieun Lee, VPRD April 21, 2008. ENSC 440 Project Presentation/Demo. Presentation Outline. Introduce the Team Why WILL? : Project Background & Motivation System Overview & High Level System Design

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Wireless item label locator will

Wireless Item Label Locator(WILL)

The Third Eye Ltd.

Tongxin Feng, CEO

Jieun Choi, VPRD

Sieun Lee, VPRD

April 21, 2008

ENSC 440 Project Presentation/Demo

Presentation outline
Presentation Outline

  • Introduce the Team

  • Why WILL? : Project Background & Motivation

  • System Overview & High Level System Design

  • Business Case

  • Project Specifics

  • Lesson Learned

  • Conclusion & Future Works

  • Sources & Acknowledgements

  • Questions & Some System Details

The third eye team
The Third Eye Team

  • Tongxin Feng (President/CEO)

  • 5th year Electronics Engineering

  • MC Programming / User Interface Design & Construction

  • Tasks & Schedule Management

  • Jieun Choi (VP Research & Development)

  • 6th year Systems Engineering

  • Overall RFID research / Reader – MC Communication & Programming / User Interface Design & Construction

  • Resource & Budget Management

  • Sieun Lee (VP Research & Development)

  • 6th year Engineering Physics

  • Antenna Modification and Performance Test / Reader – MC Support / Power Supply and Delay Unit Design & Construction

  • Documentation Management

Why will

  • Motivation

    How much time do I spend searching for my key/wallet/cell phone/etc. in my room?

    How difficult would it be for a blind person to find a misplaced item?

    The leading cause of blindness is aging – which often comes with memory loss as well.

  • Further User & Market Research

    There is a need/want, but no satisfying product.

    The Problem: Tag Battery Life

System overview
System Overview

  • What WILL does

  • Features

  • Intuitive user interface, direction/range detection

  • Tags do not require batteries

  • Portable

System overview1
System Overview

  • Design Overview

High level system design j

Reader Module







User interface

High-Level System Design (J)

  • Reader and Microcontroller module












High level system design j1
High-Level System Design (J)

  • User Interface and Microcontroller

User Interface


Button 1






Button 2

Button 3





  • Linearly polarized, UHF monopole antenna

  • Problems

    i) Polarization & Directionality

    ii) Size

  • Why still this antenna?

    • Most marketed directional antennas are large, especially in UHF range. Most RFID devices are omni-directional.

    • Must design & build an antenna - time and budget constraints

  • How we compensated

    • Somewhat directional – strongest signal in the direction of the tag

    • Add a parabolic dish and metal back plate for better gain & directionality. (Bigger size though)

Business case
Business Case

  • Market

  • 19.7 million in North America with visual impairment

  • Item locating function also marketable to healthy population

  • Cost

  • Active tags are around $10 -$ 50 dollars. But for each tag, users require to change battery from 1 month to 6 months depends on how much they use

  • WILL costs around $350 and need rechargeable batteries for the reader.

  • UHF reader and antenna are expensive, so instead lowering the cost, expanding the feature such as UHF RFID home security can be an option.

Business case1
Business Case

  • Financing

  • Investors

  • International funding sources to develop assistive devices

  • Competition

  • Other assistive devices for the visually impaired (Direct/indirect)

  • RFID products

Time line
Time Line


Actual time

Lesson learned
Lesson Learned

  • Not to overload oneself

  • Do ample research before choosing a project - simplest ideas can be the most difficult to implement

  • If you run into a problem, it is highly possible someone else run into the same problem

  • Even if you don’t seem to progress, you are actually learning


  • We were able to achieve the significant part of the two important functions that were proposed only for the product stage : indicating the direction and relative range of the tag!

Future works
Future Works

  • Design and build a small, directional antenna

  • Make more user friendly interface using speaker to let user know the stage of the process and use lock in buttons

  • Build more stable circuit for power module and user interface

  • Reduce the size and the increase the battery life

Sources acknowledgement
Sources & Acknowledgement

  • Dr. Patrick Leung and Steve Whitmore, Instructors

  • Brad Oldham and Jason Lee, TAs

  • Fred Heep and Marius Haiduku, Lab Technicians

  • Dr. Rodney Vaughn, Dr. Shawn Stapleton and Jane Yun, RF/Microwave Mobile Communication Laboratory

  • Derek Pyner, Pacific Design Engineering

  • Andrey Gleener, Andrey Gleener R&D Services


  • Item 1


  • Item2


  • Item3


  • Why did we need one month extension?

    • Looking for parts – 2 weeks delay

      Late January and early February, we were not able to find the right UHF RFID development product.

      • Required long range but small size product

      • Fully assembled products – therefore, not much room for development and mostly software development was encouraged for UHF

      • No schematic or source code provided

    • Reader and Microcontroller connection – 1 month delay

Reader module connection
Reader Module Connection

  • Problem 1 – Late February until early March

    Reader module cannot be program at all except changing some settings; therefore, we were not able to control the reader module directly

  • Problem 2 – Early March until end of April

    Reader module and Microcontroller cannot communicate to each other using UART or TTL signals

Reader module connection1



Reader module on interface board

Microcontroller on interface board


Reader Module Connection

  • Trial 1 : Connect each module separately to computer using RS232 signals

    • Result: Both modules communicate successfully

Reader module connection2

Null modem Cable

Reader module on interface board

Microcontroller on interface board

Reader Module Connection

  • Trial2: Connect reader module and MC together using RS232 signals via null modem cable

    • Result: auto shutdown occurred

Reader module connection3
Reader Module Connection

  • Null Modem Cable

    • RS232

      • DCE-DCE

      • How about Direct Connection?

        Auto shutdown did not occur however, the signals are not delivered

    • Auto shutdown

      • The level shifter chips believe that the input signals on both side

        Possible problem occurred due to level shifter chips, so we decided to use TTL signal directly

Reader module connection4

Reader module



Reader Module Connection

  • Trial 3: Connect Two module using TTL Signal

    • Result : no response occurred

      Signals may not be correct

Reader module connection5
Reader Module Connection

  • Checked TTL Signals on both side

    • Microcontroller

      • It seems like a proper signal

        as mentioned in data sheet

    • Reader module

      • It is not a correct signal

        as mentioned in data sheet

        ( Low: ~0V High:~4.5V)

        Reader module seems to cause a problem (later, we found out oscilloscope is very senstive to this reader module signals)

Reader module connection6






Reader Module Connection

  • Trial 4 : Generate TTL signal from the Computer RS232 signal

    • Because RS232 signals from computer transmits correctly to the reader module, we used MAX232N chips to convert RS232 signals back to TTL signal and feed into Reader module and see what happens

    • Result: No response

Reader module connection7





Input signal loop backs to output signal

Reader Module Connection

  • Continued from Trial4

  • Used Loop back system to see whether the signals from MAX232N chips is distorted

    • Result : Correct. Input and output are the same

      No problem in the signals from the chip.

      Reader module only understands the RS232 signals from computer but anything else

Reader module connection8

MC on interface board






Reader Module Connection

  • Reader module communication trials

    All methods did not work


Reader on interface board






Reader module connection solved
Reader Module Connection -Solved

  • How did we solve this problem?

    Check all the basics!

    After we used the right handshaking and all the right

    settings one of the setting was not fixed correctly.

     The MC stop bit was set as 2 bits where the reader module is set default to 1 bit.

    Until mid April, the setting was correct, however, it was changed during our trials, and we did not double check this setting later. We found it using logic analyzer.

Problems confronted
Problems confronted

  • Power supply generates noise in Microcontroller TTL signals

  • Not enough time to investigate circuit.

  • We believe the problem occurred from input and output devices connected the Vcc.

  • Why are they connected to Vcc?

     We used the STK500 development board and to make it work without the development board, we used STK500 schematic to make the hardware environment as similar to do debugging