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Home / News / A Little RFID Christmas Tale

A Little RFID Christmas Tale

11.12.2007 >> A Little RFID Christmas Tale

Santa Claus optimizes the processes in his office with the aid of an RFID solution by MICROPLEX and CAEN RFID

Varel, Germany ,Viareggio, Italy, 11th December 2007

Santa Claus lives at the Arctic Circle near the town Rovaniemi in Finland. Many people visit him in his "Santa Claus Office" every year, communicate their wishes and their thoughts to him or just chat away a little bit. In order that all visitors get a souvenir from the meeting, they are photographed and filmed by the elves Santa Claus little helpers. However, up to now it has not always been so easy to choose the correct photos for all people from the huge amount of material.

But times have changed: each visitor receives a magic ticket at the point of sale. When this ticket is laid on the counter within the exit area the photos and the videos of the visitor appear automatically on a monitor. As an exception this ticket is not literally magical like everything else in Santa's office is: it is part of an RFID application of the company MICROPLEX Printware AG (Varel/Friesland), based on CAEN RFID's UHF readers, for the optimization of the searching processes for video and graphical material. All visitors of the "Santa Claus Office" pass several points where the photos and the videos are taken. The task was to develop an application to assign photos and videos to a visitor at the exit within the shortest period of time without a "visible" or a disturbing technology. The video and imaging facility which is necessary for this purpose was designed and realized by the imaging specialist Helrot Oy from Helsinki. The videos a! nd photos are stored in a special image and video database on a central video server, which makes it possible to select and to display photos and videos very fast by means of the time information.

To synchronize the visitors and the photo and video material, RFID tickets were the solution. For the attainment of appropriate reading ranges of up to 5 meters (distance antenna/visitor) and with a low budget on tickets only UHF smart-labels came into question.

The application area in the Santa Claus Office offers in principle the conceivably unfavorable conditions for the application of UHF transponders: a human being consists of almost 80% of water, and the clothes especially in these cold latitudes - are often equipped with zippers made of metal. Nevertheless it was decided in favor of UHF smart-labels placed in a small bag made of synthetic material hanging round the neck of the visitor. The clothes between the UHF smart-label and the body enable a problem-free reading of the tickets from a distance of several meters.

"In practice reading rates of 95% to 100% per day are reached and are thus an acceptable, indeed a good output", said Frank Gaertner, MICROPLEX's RFID Solutions Project Manager. "Responsible for the very good result under the difficult conditions are an optimal adjustment of the antennas which acquire preferably all areas and positions, a precise calibration of the readers plus an optimal cooperation with the controlling middleware. CAEN RFID readers provide the best combination of Radio Frequency performances and excellent software, so we achieved an easy integration of these systems in our products and in the MICROPLEX AutoId Middleware framework".

"Our collaboration with MICROPLEX is well established since a few years", said Giovanni Grieco, Sales & Marketing Director of CAEN RFID. "Santa Claus' installation is just another example on how RFID can be applied to several fields of everyday's life, and the key role of a skilled integrator such as MICROPLEX is to identify such fields and propose RFID as an excellent tool to solve problems".

There are no IT specialists among the elves. As a result the possibility of a complete remote maintenance of the system by MICROPLEX, including update of the firmware of all connected devices, is important for Santa Claus. By this means the system is always up to date - without additional work for Santa and his elves.

Santa Claus also profits by a little secondary effect: his big golden book is now completed by an LCD monitor. When a visitor enters the room, Santa does no longer have to slog through his book to refer to the misdeeds of the visitor - this information is displayed live on the monitor now. Where it comes from, remains the secret of the bearded man with the red jelly bag cap.

Santa Claus uses thus the latest RFID technology, resulting from a collaboration between MICROPLEX and CAEN RFID, and this allows to have enough time for him and his helpers for the preparation of the many gifts which are punctually delivered at the 24th of December this year again. By the way: Santa told MICROPLEX how he manages it to be at so many places all over the world simultaneously on just one single day. But MICROPLEX is silent on this - the company had to promise this to Santa.

Information about the Santa RFID Solution

Dipl.-Ing. Frank Gaertner

Project Manager RFID-Solutions


Phone: +49.4491.933782


Information about MICROPLEX Printware AG

The MICROPLEX Printware AG is an international active company with headquarters in Varel/Friesland and with affiliated companies in the USA and France. MICROPLEX develops and produces high end controllers for printers and the corresponding software plus complete control and reader systems for RFID applications. The passive UHF-based long range systems are the focal points in the RFID business. MICROPLEX offers an own system for build up complete applications in this technology:
  • UHF antennas' specific solutions,
  • UHF/HF readers and UHF/HF gate reader systems,
  • UHF/UHF mobile readers, integrated barcode scanners,
  • UHF thermal printers (4" and 6")
  • control systems and middleware
  • UHF transponders and UHF smart labels
Due to the proprietary development the key technologies are open to MICROPLEX. The characteristic strength of the company is the realization of customer-specific solutions on the basis of the available standards and of the own modular built RFID complete system. MICROPLEX UHF-Readers are equipped with CAEN UHF modules, because of the high performance. For more information about MICROPLEX, see the website

Information about CAEN RFID

CAEN RFID is a privately owned company, a leader in the design and manufacture of RFID readers and tags using UHF. The company is a recent spin-off from CAEN S.p.A. (Electronic Nuclear Equipment Construction), which has 27 years of experience in electronics for nuclear and particle physics experiments. This experience has enabled CAEN to take on the challenge of new industries such as Aerospace, Microelectronics and the emerging RFID technology. CAEN RFID was the first company in Europe to manufacture and supply UHF (Ultra High Frequency) long range readers. CAEN RFID's active participation in EPC Global and ETSI workgroups enables the company to supply state-of-the-art RFID readers and tags for existing technology. For more information about CAEN RFID, see the website

Information about Santa Claus' Office

Information about the imaging and video solution

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