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RFMaster: RFID-based Secure Access to Physical Spaces

Researcher: Raj Rajkumar


RFMaster: RFID-based Secure Access to Physical Spaces

RFID (Radio-Frequency ID) is an emerging low-cost technology that is currently being deployed to track objects in warehouses for inventory management, and will likely be used for automatic tallying and billing of items in a cart at a grocery store. “RFMaster” is a people-tracking and access control system to physical spaces built on a combination of RFID and wireless technologies. Current tracking applications based on technologies like Wireless 802.11 or cellular technology require users to be carrying relatively expensive devices like cellular phones or wireless enabled laptops and PDAs. Also the location-sensing algorithms for wireless networks are relatively complex.

RFMaster aims to provide significantly more functinality than current location-sensing and people-tracking applications at much lower costs and higher user-friendliness. A RFID tag on something as handy as an ID is what we aim to use to track people and provide secure access to physical devices and spaces. Visual (camera) and biometric technologies will also be integrated into the system in cooperation with other CyLab researchers such as Prof. Kumar. An administrator can remotely monitor the locations of people in locations

The RFMaster system will be fault-tolerant, scalable and layered in its approach. The location of users in the system is stored in domain-specific databases, which are replicated using the primary backup protocol. The division of the data set into domains will not only provide load-balancing but also scalability.

Project Description

RFMaster is a system that couples RFID tags with a distributed networked system that provides authentication and door-access controls. RFID readers located in various entry points to different physical zones will read the RFID tags of those who enter or leave each zone. This information will be collected at the core of RFMaster, and will be used to track the presence and location of various personnel. Our first implementation will have a Web-based administrative interface and support high availability to ensure that the system is continuously operational even in the case of processor crashes or link failures. The RFID system will then be integrated with a visual camera sensor and biometric technologies (such as fingerprint detection) to provide multi-modal authentication. The networked aspect of the system will also support dynamic location awareness, which would enable users with appropriate rights to obtain the last known location of a person (or object) along with the time when the person was last located.

RFMaster will support a multitude of infrastructural features. The data-set of the entire system will be divided into different domain servers. Each of these servers will be replicated making the system highly available. RFMaster will be scalable, since the number of readers and the size of the database can grow to any arbitrarily large number without compromising on performance or changes in the design. With more users entering the system, more local domains for readers and database servers may be added. RFMaster will also employ a layered approach, from the first tier core database, to the database manager, load balancer to the external component which interfaces with the user application (a web based interface in our case). This layering will make RFMaster modular, reusable and extensible across various application domains. Various services including a topology service, a heartbeat service, a local ID service, a global ID service, and a host of verifiers (based on RFID, biometrics and camera information) will also be deployed.