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Mobile student attendance monitor

ABSTRACT

This project focuses on the development of a web based attendance register system, called mobile student attendance monitor. This project is motivated due to the fact that the student's attendance record is the most important element which can reflect their academic achievement in the institutions.

Mostly, the attendance register is circulated in the lecture rooms by the lecturers. This is a very time consuming method and not ideal for a large number of students in a big lecture hall. The aim of the project is to develop a user friendly, efficient and effective mobile attendance system that provides an alternative solution to manual attendance in the educational institutions.

The development of this prototype system has been built using the web-based applications such as PHP, My SQL and VB.NET to deal the students' attendances by using RFID reader. As, most of the academic institutions provide their students and staffs, ID cards with RFID tags on them. These cards are also known as 'Contactless smart cards'. This project is designed to collect and manage student attendance through this technology which works on the verification basis of the students and recording their time of entrance and exit in the lecture hall.

Keyword: web based prototype, PHP, MySQL, VB.NET, RFID, readers, tag, and contactless smart cards.

INTRODUCTION OF THE PROJECT AND THE SYSTEM

Introduction

Management in organizations is a very important aspect in every field as economy is growing at a very fast speed in this busy world. One of the most important factors of the management of nearly all the organizations is to keep the records of the attendance of the individuals. Many researches and the evidences in them have shown that there is an important relationship between the attendances and the performances of the individuals. If the individuals do not attend the places, their performances will link to poor retentions and results. The development of this system is provoked due to the fact that the students' attendance record is one of the important elements that may reflect their academic achievements in the institutions. For the sake of good results, it is also very important for the institutions to keep the records of the students at all times. As having the accurate and more powerful attendance systems, it helps in the monitoring of the student's activities and their interest in the course. With the help this kind of systems, it would be very easy to handle the record management.

Importance of Attendance

Empirical evidences have shown that there is a significant correlation between students' attendances and their performances [1]. This aspect is agreed by both Mazza and Dimitrova where they claimed that this factor is the most important aspect which indicates the behavior of the student for the course. With the help of this analysis, the judgment can be made about their tendency and dedication of the students toward the courses. [2].

Results taken from the study done by Newman-Ford, Lloyd and Thomas have shown that attendance was a significantly better predictor of grade than any other factors such as age, prior education background or even gender [3]. From the study, it had also revealed that retention rates were substantially better for students who were consistently attending classes than those more frequently absent. All of these findings have showed that attendance records have primarily become the proxy to determine the success of the students in most of the higher academic institutions. [4]

Manual Attendance System

Traditionally, in most of the higher academic institutions, the recording of the students' attendances are mainly done by paper and pen. On the other hand, this practice will also lead to human errors that could be happening during or after the process of attendance taking. For this process, the attendance sheets are to be distributed in the classes for the students to sign in and this whole process consumes a lot of time. Sometimes this list requires the registrant to write his/her time of entry to the classroom as well. In most cases, there is not any list available and students have to write their names on a plain piece of paper plus their signatures and possibly ID (Identification data) numbers which are assigned to them by their institutions. By using the manual system, the process of attendance becomes more difficult for the management to update the record regularly and manually calculate the percentage of classes attended [5].

All of these limitations regarding the manual system indicate the needs to improve the process of attendance recording and reporting. Using papers are not just inefficient but it will require the management of the academic institution to provide a well-managed filing system to cater the attendance records. Therefore, it is crucial to reinforce the use of attendance register system in order to improve the process of recording and reporting students' attendances in the higher academic institutions. [4]

By proper analysis of this method, we can observe a lot of problems in the process which are unsuitable for the system. If we start the whole procedure from the beginning, we can notice that each student has to look his/her name up on the list which takes some time, some fellow students can sign for their friends and colleagues who are absent and the lecturer could not identify the signatory, any mistake can occur like list do not have proper names, times for entering in the lecture hall and their registration numbers on the list, the list would be difficult and time consuming to circulate in large lecture rooms consisting of high number of students, some students may forget to sign their attendance on the register. For the lecturer, it might be a big hassle to pass this to the department of administration because of their busy schedule and timings. Especially for the administration; it's always a tough task to keep the records over a long period of time which may confuse them when searching for the record of a specific student in particular dates.

Web Based Applications

Web-based applications have now become one of the preferable technologies that are used to ease the process of managing data and records. Some of the motivations that contribute to the development of any web-based systems nowadays are because of its efficiency in handling rapid access of documents and its ability in supporting multi-user's simultaneously, thus saving a lot of time and hassle free [6], [7].

Web based applications have many advantages over software that you have to download. You don't need to install or update anything on your PC. You can use the application from any PC or mobile device. Web applications are easy to use and make working with other people much simpler. You don't need to worry about backups because your data is safely stored on a server. [7] Furthermore, web-based applications are designed with the same principles as a regular website. So, it is as simple to use a website as to use a web-based application. [8]

Use of RFID in the System

Recording the students' attendances has also become the prospective process to be automated by using the web-based system. Many researches are involved in more advanced technologies that are integrated with the online systems such as the use of bar code technology, biometric technology and Radio Frequency Identification. These days, mostly all the institutes and organizations do provide their students with ID cards which have been integrated with RFID transponders which contains the basic details of the card holder. These cards may have different details like the student registration number, roll number, name, batch number and department ID and the department name etc This ID card which is also known as 'Contactless smart card' is provided to the students for the access to different premises in the university like laboratories, libraries, buildings, seminar rooms, parking lots and class rooms. To access different areas, students have to present their ID cards to different machines which are mostly called scanners or readers, located in campus in the university and these machines are capable of reading ID cards even they are not touched with them. For this project, in order to design a system, first we need record the attendance of the students using their ID cards. This system is equipped with an RFID reader which reads student ID cards and records their time of attendance at each lecture, into its memory. In order to take the attendance, lecturers can connect this machine to an external host station to print a full list of students attending lecture and the list can be easily viewed by them.

Project OutlineAUTOMATIC IDENTIFICATION SYSTEMS

In recent years, the automatic identification systems have become very popular as they are providing services in many fields like industries, purchasing and distribution logistics, industry, manufacturers and material flow systems. These are the systems which exist so they can provide information about humans, products, animals and goods in transport.

Barcode Procedure

Bar codes have successfully held their own against other systems over the past few years, as the turnover of the bar codes in the decade of 90's. The bar code system consists of bars and gaps arranged in parallel configuration which is a physical representation of a binary code. They can be either narrow or wide which also have associated numerical readings. For this reason they are arranged in a pattern which is decided and they are representing data that refer to an associate symbol.

All bar codes represent data in a machine readable form. Different bars and spaces in a bar code represent different numbers and letters which can be decoded with the help of a bar code scanner. When they are scanned by optical lasers, the white gaps and black bars produce dissimilar reflections from the laser beam which provide for different sets of codes. This scanned data is then sent to a computer where it is recorded and then processed. [10]

In addition, there are many barcodes which are popular in the industry, they are as follows:

Optical Character Recognition

This type of identification system was developed in the 1960s. Optical character recognition is usually abbreviated to OCR. OCR is a field of research in pattern recognition, and artificial intelligence. It is the mechanical or electronic translation of written images, typed or printed text into machine-editable text. It is used to convert paper books and documents into electronic files.

When a paper is scanned, it produces just an image file, or a photo of the page. As the computer cannot understand the letters on the page, so OCR software is used to convert it into a text or word processor file.. The result is much more flexible and compact than the original one. All OCR systems include an optical scanner for reading text, and sophisticated software for analyzing images. Most OCR systems use a combination of hardware and software to recognize characters. OCR systems have completely failed to be deployed in the different fields in the world as the scanners are highly expensive and the readers are complicated in comparison to the other readers of the automatic identification systems.

Biometric Procedures

This is a unique method for recognizing humans which is based on one or more intrinsic physical or behavioral characteristics and qualities. The main purpose of this system is to identifying human beings by detecting and comparing the physical characteristics of each person such as hands and finger prints and with the help of their voice and iris.

Finger Identification Systems

Finger print is one of the most important procedures in this field and its applications are used to identify criminals. It is most developed of all the biometric technologies and its price is low enough to see it beginning to make inroads in to the mass market.

When this procedure is run to identify personal identification, the finger is placed on the specified reader. The system calculates it pattern and this analysis of fingerprints for matching, generally requires the comparison of several features of the print pattern. These include patterns, which are aggregate characteristics of ridges, and minutia points, which are unique features found within the patterns. It is also necessary to know the structure and properties of human skin in order to successfully employ some of the imaging technologies.

Voice Identification

Voice identification technology was initiated in the early 1960s. Since then, voice ID has undergone aggressive research and development to bring it into the mainstream. Voice ID is sometimes called voice authentication, which is a type of user authentication that uses voiceprints and pattern recognition software to verify an individual. [13]

Voice identification is possible because every person has a unique set of voice characteristics and speech patterns. Voice identification extracts specific and unique features from a person's speech, such as pitch, tone, cadence, harmonic level and vibrations in the larynx, and stores and uses them to differentiate that person's voice from the other voices. This system requires speech samples from the subject. The input is compared with a stored sample of the subject's speech. This stored sample is called a voiceprint. A voice print is a plot of frequency density vs. time. [14] Early voice identification systems made matches between sets of such plots. If these samples match, then the person can be identified or a reaction can be initiated (e.g. 'open door').

Smart Cards

A smart card, a type of chip card is a plastic card embedded with a computer chip that stores and transacts data between users. This data is associated with either value or information or both and is stored and processed within the card's chip, either a memory or microprocessor. The card data is transacted via a reader that is part of a computing system. Smart card-enhanced systems are in use today throughout several key applications, including healthcare, banking, entertainment and transportation. [15]

The microprocessor on the smart card is there for security. The host computer and card reader actually "talk" to the microprocessor. The microprocessor enforces access to the data on the card. If the host computer read and wrote the smart card's random access memory (RAM), it would be no different than a diskette. Smarts cards may have up to 8 KB of RAM, 346 KB of read only memory (ROM), 256 KB of programmable ROM, and a 16-bit microprocessor. The smart card uses a serial interface and receives its power from external sources like a card reader. The processor uses a limited instruction set for applications such as cryptography. Smart cards can be used with a smart-card reader attachment to a personal computer to authenticate a user. Web browsers also can use smart card technology to supplement Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) for improved security of Internet transactions. [16]

The most common smart card applications are:

Smart cards are much more popular in Europe than in the United States. In Europe, the health insurance and banking industries use smart cards extensively. Every German citizen has a smart card for health insurance. Even though smart cards have been around in their modern form for at least a decade, they are just starting to take off in the United States. [16] Therefore, this market represents one of the fastest growing subsectors of the microelectronics industry. They have two types, either a memory card or one with computer capacity known as a microprocessor card.

The memory cards operate using a sequential logic state machine which accesses the memory (EEPROM) of the card. Security can be increased by adding stream ciphering algorithms. The functionality of the memory card in question is usually optimized for a specific application. Flexibility of application is highly limited but the advantage is the cards are very cost effective. Therefore they are used in price sensitive, large scale applications.

The microprocessor cards, contains a microprocessor which is connected to a segmented memory (ROM, RAM and EEPROM segments). The mask ROM incorporated an operating system for the microprocessor and is inserted during the chip manufacture. The contents of the ROM are determined during the manufacturing are identical for all the chips from the same batch and cannot be overwritten. The chip's EPROM contains application data and application related program code. Reading from or writing to this memory area is controlled by the operating system. The RAM is the microprocessor temporary working memory. Data stored in it is lost whenever supply voltage is disconnected. Microprocessor cards are very flexible as it is possible to integrate different applications in one card. The application specific parts of the program are not loaded in to the EPROM until manufacture and can be initiated via the OS. [19]

THE BASICS OF RFID TECHNOLOGY

What is RFID?

In twelfth night, Shakespeare wrote "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them". RFID is one of the more recent four letter abbreviations to have greatness thrust upon it in a flurry of industry mandates, government legislation, and hyperbole. [20] RFID is basically the abbreviation of four letters which are combined together which stands for Radio Frequency Identification. This describes a system which can identify wherein an electronic device that uses radio frequency and magnetic field attached to an electronic device. The object of any RFID system is to carry out any form of data to suitable transponders which are called tags and to retrieve data with the help of machine at a suitable time and place to satisfy particular needs. These are the two most important components of this system, one is tag and the other one is called the reader, which recognizes the presence of RFID tags and reads the information which is manually stored on them. This information is then passed to another system confirming the presence of tags. The software with which the system is communicated with the reader is called RFID middleware and it stands between reader and the applications.

Case for RFID

Much of the recent interest surrounding RFID has arisen from mandates and recommendations by the government agencies such as the U.S Department of Defense (DoD) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and from a few private sector mega corporations. For instance, Wal-Mart called for its top 100 suppliers to begin providing RFID tags by early 2005 on pallets shipped to its stores. This mandate caused the companies in Wal-Mart's supply chain to focus in implementing RFID solutions. Companies worked to decide which tags and readers to use and how to attach them with tags or embed them with the products and how to test the read rates for RF tags on pallets as they moved through doors or trucks. Several companies have announced their support for what are commonly known as tags and ship applications. [20]

Applications of RFID

RFIDs can have many applications depending on their type of functionality. They can be appropriate for different industries and commercial markets. Certain type of RFID applications characterize the whole approach of technology which can be differentiated on the basis of the considerations and implementations.

The term "autoid," short for automatic ID, describes any automated system for attaching an identity to an item. Real-Time Location Systems (RTLSs) are automated systems for tracking the location of an item. [21] The tree below shows the relationship between different identifications systems and the different types of RFID types. These five categories of RFID are the basic applications which can demonstrate some sense and issues in the physical implementation of this technology.

Access Control

Most organizations today require a performing and efficient access control system. There are many reasons for having such a system which are:

  1. Enhanced security to limit access to restricted areas.
  2. Tracking employee activity and
  3. Improve loss prevention

Some primary considerations for this type are counterfeiting which means that tags must be recognized and any kind of violation must be discouraged. The other consideration which is very important is tailgating, which occurs when an unauthorized object enters behind an authorized object before or after its entrance. To deal with tailgating and issues like emergency access, this can be implemented with the help of barriers which can be done by singulation, keeping a check which entity is entering through the sensors, either to allow them access or restrict them at a time. But the factor of counterfeiting is a hard process to be address and explained as many systems are been reversed and they proved vulnerable to the attacks. Therefore, strong encryption is necessary on both ends of messages and the digital signatures.

An RFID access control system can provide an easy and efficient solution. RFID badges can be read from much further distances than other traditional technologies and the embedded electronic information for each badge can be over-written repeatedly. Furthermore, multiple RFID badges can be read all at the same time. Information about employee access, attendance, and duties performed, can be easily and efficiently monitored and stored in a database. [24]

Tag and Ship

Tag and ship applications are minimal RFID systems that allows a user to associate an RFID tag with an item, apply the physical tag to the item and then verify that tags operate properly to the attached item or not. Logistics and transportation are major areas of implementation for RFID technology. For example, yard management, shipping and freight and distribution centers are some areas where RFID tracking technology is used. Some considerations of this application are cost, isolation, tag failure and their impact on the processes. For this process, it is very important to purchase tags and device with low cost that the owner has to bear for its implementation. Therefore, a simple equipment best fits for its implementation. Furthermore, to buy some extra tags and devices lower down the cost of the maintenance of the system. It can be implemented by using simple labels that are encoded by the appliances rather than coded by tag vendors.

Smart Shelf

Keeping an accurate inventory of shelved items in real time constitutes is one of the most desired attributes in any retail business, resource collection, or library system. A Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system offers an ideal way to track how often an item gets removed from or looked at and returned to a shelf. RFID uses radio-frequency communication to identify, track, and manage objects or living things via a reader and- tag system. An item fitted with RFID tag couples radio signals that a RFID reader receives to obtain the details. [26] Some important considerations for this applications are item-level inventory, hardware used and to handle the spurious tag reading.

Track and Trace

One of the most important and earliest of the RFID applications was to track dairy cattle. Therefore, the animals were tagged with glass capsules or ear tags which were used to identify lost animals. But now, this application is used far more like to sort information from live stock, and pharmaceutical tracking. The primary considerations of this application are information sharing and instant based control. In case of information sharing, the repetition of identification cannot be ignored therefore, unique numbers are assigned to the products so that they can be easily sorted and traced by the vendors.

RFID System Categories

RFID systems can be grouped into four different categories which are as follows:

EAS Systems

Electronic article surveillance (EAS) is a technological method for preventing shoplifting from retail stores. These systems are basically the one bit which can sense the presence or absence of an item. EAS is a technology used to identify articles as they pass through a gated area in a store. This identification is also used to alert someone if any unauthorized removal of items is being attempted.

Portable Data Capture Systems

Portable data capture systems are characterized by the use of portable data terminals with integral RFID readers and are used in applications where a high degree of variability in sourcing required data from tagged items may be exhibited. The readers capture data that is transmitted directly to a host information management system via a radio frequency data communication (RDFC) link or held for delivery by line linkage to the host on a batch processing basis. [29]

Networked Systems

Networked systems applications can generally be characterized by fixed position readers deployed within a given site and connected directly to a networked information management system. The transponders are positioned on moving or immoveable items, or people, depending on the application. [29]

Positioning Systems

Positioning systems use transponders to facilitate automated location and navigation support for guided vehicles. Readers are positioned in the vehicles and linked to onboard computer and RDFC link to the host information management system. The transponders are embedded in the floor of the operating environment and programmed with appropriate identification and location data. The reader antenna is usually located beneath the vehicle to allow close proximity to the embedded transponders. [29]

Advantages of RFID

There are many different ways to identify different objects, people and animals. For identifying small number of items of any kind object, the policy to count and write them on a paper is fine but when the number grow more than hundreds, some kind of automation is required, in a limited number of hours. To summarize, some of the benefits of RFID are the following:

Alignment is not necessary:

A scan does not require line of sight which saves time in processing that would otherwise be spent lining up items.

Item level tracking:

Different types of tags are used which have the capability to track the number of items.

Re-writ ability:

Some RFID tags are written and re-written many times which is a big advantage. For an item on a store shelf, this type of tag might be a security liability, so write once tags are also available in the market. So, tags can be reused and therefore extremely low maintenance cost occurs.

Variety of form factors:

Tags are available in a great range of types, sizes and materials. RFID tags range in size from a lunch box to a tiny passive tags smaller than the grain of the rice. Different tags are used for different purposes in wide variety of environments.

High speed inventory:

Multiple items can be scanned at multiple times. Therefore, it results in extreme low error rate when tracking bulk of items.

Labor saving technology

RFID technology is a labor-saving technology. This translates to cost savings.

System Components of RFID

RFID uses wireless communication technology and the basic purpose of the system is to identify objects and people which are tagged, there are three basic components as below:

The tag and the interrogator communicate information between one another via radio waves. When a tagged object enters the read zone of an interrogator, the interrogator signals the tag to transmit its stored data. Tags can hold many kinds of information about the objects they are attached to, including serial numbers, time stamps, configuration instructions, and much more. Once the interrogator has received the tag's data, that information is relayed back to the controller via standard network interface such as an Ethernet LAN or event the internet. The controller can then use that information for a variety of purposes. For instance, the controller could use the data to simply inventory the object in a database, or it could use the information to redirect the object on a conveyor belt system. [30]

Tag

RFID tags are the object tracking devices that are used to store and transmit data to the interrogator. These tags are made up of an electronic chip and an antenna. The electronic chip contains memory (for data read/write purpose) and other usable circuitry. Batteries may also be encapsulated with chips and antennas to provide on board power source for RFID tags

RFID Tag Shapes and Sizes

RFID tags can be manufactured in several different shapes and sizes depending on the type of application in which they will be used.

Some are the size of a pencil lead or are less than a half-inch in length and can be inserted under the skin of animals and livestock.

Basic Types of RFID Tags

There are two types of RFID tags:

On board power source is the main differentiating factor between these tag types.

Active Tags

Active tags have their own power source to broadcast signal to RFID reader (interrogator) and power electronic chips. These tags have comparatively larger memories and are much complex than passive counterparts. Usually a battery is used as the power source. By using a battery as power source, active tags are able to transmit data and communicate with low-powered RFID readers. Another advantage of using active tags is that it can transmit signals over relatively longer distances. The complexity, power source, and larger memories make these tags more expansive.

Passive Tags

Passive tags have no power source and rely on RFID readers. These tags derive power from the signal sent by RFID readers. Due to this fact, these tags require high powered RFID interrogators and have short effective range (usually less than 2 feet). Passive tags have smaller memory capacities as compared to active tags due to power source absence. As a result, these tags are much less complex and are less expansive to manufacture.

Semi-Passive Tags

Some passive tags have built-in power source but do not use this source for signal transmission. In fact, they use power source for on-board circuitry. Such types of tags are called battery-assisted passive tags or semi-passive tags.

Basic Tag Capabilities

Many basic operations can be performed with an RFID tag:

Selection of Tags

Many considerations are important in the selection of the tags which are as follows:

Characteristics in RFID

To understand and appreciate the capabilities of RFID systems, it is important to understand the basic parts, data flow that influences the choice of the systems and practicalities of communicating across the air interface. By taking into consideration the components of RFID systems and the different types of functions within the chain, it is possible to take hold of the important issues that influence the effective application of RFID. Thus, it is important to make a start from the method of communication as how it is achieved and the special techniques involved in the design of this system.

The Air Interface and Wireless Communication

The air interface describes the way in which a tag communicates with the reader. Having knowledge about the tag's air interface, we can determine tag's read and identity readers compatible with the tag. Communication of data between tags and a reader is done by the wireless communication. For this purpose, there are two methods which can be distinguished from each other, the first one is based on proximity and electromagnetic which is also known as inductive coupling and the other is based on the propagation of electromagnetic waves. Coupling is done via "antenna" structures that form an integral feature in both tags and readers. The term antenna is basically used for the propagation systems and is applied to the inductive systems.

Carrier Frequencies

In wired communication systems, the physical wiring constraints allow communication links and networks to be effectively isolated from each other and this approach is adopted for radio frequency communication channels. This requires and is generally covered by the government legislations with different parts of electromagnetic spectrums being assigned for different purposes.

Not all the countries in the world have access to all the frequencies which are listed in the table below as some countries have assigned these bands to other users. Within each country and frequency, these are some specific regulations that govern the use of these frequencies.

Range and Power Levels

The range that can be achieved in RFID system is determined by:

Although the level of power is the first determinant of the range, the manner and the efficiency in which the power is deployed also influence the range. The field from the antenna extends into space which surrounds its place and its strength diminishes with respect to its distance. Therefore, strength of the field always reduced to the square of its distance. The power within the tag is generally a lot less than in the reader. In some systems, the reader comprises of the receiver and is separate from the transmitter. As it is possible to choose power levels for different applications, there are some restrictions on its frequencies and constraints on power levels. Although 100 – 500 m W are values which are often quoted in many countries but these values can be confirmed from the authorities for its use.

Types of Keying

The term keying comes from the days of telegraphy when an operator pressed a manual key to make short and long tones. Keying is described which attributes of an analog carrier, the analog carrier can be a wave or a field, may be modulated to represent the 1's and 0's of a digital message. There are 3 main types of the keying which are:

Amplitude shift keying (ASK):

A type of keying that sends digital data over analog carriers by changing the amplitude of a wave in time with the data stream.

Frequency shift keying (FSK):

A type of keying that sends changes through the frequency of the wave.

Phase shift keying (PSK):

A type of keying that sends changes through the distance by which the waves lead or follow a reference point in time.

Coupling

A tag's coupling mechanism determines the way a circuit on the tag and a circuit on the reader influences each other to send and receive information on power. The type of coupling a tag uses directly affects the range between the tag and the reader. Along with the range, the choice of coupling mechanism strongly affects the frequency which is used by the tag. Some of the coupling techniques are describes which are described below:

Backscatter coupling

This technique provides an elegant solution to the puzzle of how to make an RFID tag without the battery. This describes that the RF waves transmitted by the reader are spread out by the tag, so waves are bounced back to the source to send a signal. As the term describes, it means that the tags are reflect at the same frequency emitted by the readers, but some of the qualities of the reflection are changed during all this process. But this is the distinguishing feature of this method that both the tags and the readers use the same frequency. Therefore, this is a half duplex communication mode. The reader powers the tag even when the reader is waiting for the signal or sending from itself. Some components of the tag used in this kind of coupling are shown below:

Inductive coupling

Inductive coupling is a common type of remote coupling. In technical terms, inductive coupling is the transfer of energy from one circuit to another by virtue of the mutual inductance between the circuits. In an RFID system that uses inductive coupling, the reader antenna and the tag antenna each have a coil, which together form a magnetic field. The tag draws energy from the field. The microchip uses this energy to change the electrical load on the tag antenna. These changes are picked up by the reader antenna and converted into a unique serial number. [40] For this reason, it is sometime called transformer coupling.

Magnetic coupling

It is close to inductive coupling because the reader and tag form a pair of transformer coils. In this coupling, the reader coil is round or u shaped ferrite core with windings on it. Tag must be within 1 cm when operational and placed over the gaps in the core. As the distance is so small, therefore ASK modulation is used due to strong strength of magnetic coupling to make it simple. Tags are inserted in the reader as they can power up the chips which are complex. This is the reason they are ideal to be used in smart cards.

Capacitive coupling

It is another form of close coupling that works best for the systems in which tags are inserted in the reader. It is also used for the smart cards. Capacitive coupling dispense with antennas and replace them with electrodes. The reader and tag have conductive patches and they work together with a capacitor when held exactly parallel to each other without touching. It uses simple ASK with load modulation to transfer data.

Storage and Processing Capacity

Information storage and processing capacity is the final and major consideration when choosing a tag. There are many ranges of tags which can store information according to their capability. The simplest one is the tag that can store 1 bit only. On this basis, the presence and absence of an object or an individual is identified. On the other hand, some tags can store KB of data. Larger capacities usually require active tags and even among passive tags. Larger memory capacity directly increases the cost of the tag. [43] Some of the types of tags are as follows:

One -bit EAS tags

Electronic article surveillance (EAS) tags are typically used to prevent thefts in libraries and mostly markets. EAS tags are called 1 bit tag as they are capable to store 1 bit of the information whether tag is present or not. This is the reason they are mostly used as they are inexpensive and simple. They do not have microchips are always passive using a specific modulation which is appropriate to the coupling that may be recognized by the reader.

Surface acoustic wave tags (SAW)

In between the 1 bit tag and other, more advanced tags are SAW tags, which operate in microwave range as the backscatter tags and have no processors. They can be encoded at the time of manufacture to contain a number. A saw tag is shown in the figure given below:

The antenna at left receives microwaves pulses from the reader and feeds them back to the transducer, which contains a piezoelectric crystal that vibrates when it receives the pulses and this vibration creates an acoustic waves that travels through the tag, encountering reflecting strips. The strips reflect back part of the waves, causing the crystal to vibrate again and creating a reflection. The number of the strips and the distance between them determines the timing and number of the pulses sent back to the reader. Since the number is set at the manufacture time, SAW tags are read only as they have no logic circuits. These tags respond to the pulses at the same time causing the problems to the readers, in sorting out where one tag response starts and another stop. At the time of the writing, practical size also limits these tags to a 32- bit capacity. [45]

State machines and microprocessors

Some tags are more complex as they have logic circuits in them. Many others tags like 1bit tags and SAW tags have no circuits. The state machines allow these tags to participate in a complex process of anti-collision with the reader. [45]

More complicated processors can provide security through encryption or through the control sensors built in the chips. Advanced smart cards even have powerful processors that can be programmed and reprogrammed. As with the memory capacity, more capacity gain means higher will be the cost. The best principle is "Don't buy more than you need". Fortunately, even the most advanced tags are dropping in prices as production volume increases. [45]

Interrogators

RFID interrogators are essentially small computers. They are also composed of roughly three parts: an antenna, an RF electronics module, which is responsible for communicating with the RFID tag, and a controller electronics module, which is responsible for communicating with the controller.

An RFID interrogator acts as a bridge between the RFID tag and the controller and has just a few basic functions which are:

In addition to performing the four basic functions above, more complex RFID interrogators are able to perform three more critical functions:

Types of Interrogators

Different readers are for different purposes as they fit for different occasions. They differ in size and shapes, support various protocols and requirements. Some readers are half an inch across to the the size of a computer desk. Some readers conform to the same standards as the tags read, but some can support multiple protocols or the tags protocols made by the vendors only. The most important of all is the power levels, frequency variations and requirements vary from region to region.

Interrogators Placement

RFID systems do not require line of sight between tags and readers the way that bar code systems do. As a result of this, system designers have much more freedom when deciding where to place interrogators Readers and antennas can be placed in variety of places for different purposes. These categories are as follows:

Portals

The word "portal" means doorways or the entrance. In this category, they are placed where they can recognize tagged items entering or leaving the place. It is common setup for the warehouses.

Tunnels

It can be useful for the assembly lines as the readers may identify the station when an item is currently passing through.

Handhelds

These readers work in a place where the items are heavy enough and they cannot be moved near the readers. They can communicate with the help of wireless Ethernet or RF modem.

Forklift readers

In some workplaces these readers are now placed on the forklifts as a person might carry a handheld reader.

Smart shelves

It is potentially made for the real time inventory of the stocks in the workplaces. Smart shelves are the units where antennas are incorporated in a way that readers can acknowledge whether item is coming or departing from the shelves.

RFID Controllers

RFID controllers are the "brains" of any RFID system. They are used to network multiple RFID interrogators together and to centrally process information. The controller in any network is most often a PC or a workstation running database or application software, or a network of these machines. The controller could use information gathered in the field by the interrogators to:

RFID Middleware

The middle ware component can be broadly defined as everything that lies the edge interface and the enterprise back end interface. This component can be viewed as the central nervous system of RFID system from the software perspective (RFID readers can be considered the same from an RFID hardware perspective) in that it provides core functionality of the system, including the following:

ISO (International Standard Organization)is a network of the national standards institutes of 146 countries, on the basis of 1 member per country, with a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, that coordinates the system. ISO is a nongovernment organization. [51]

ISO standard 14443 entitled 'Identification cards –Proximity integrated circuit(s) cards' describes the operating method and operating parameters of contactless proximity coupling smart cards. This means contactless smart cards with an approximate range of 7-15 cm, like those used predominantly in the field of ticketing. The data carrier of these smart cards is normally a microprocessor and they often have additional contacts. The standard comprises the following parts:

So, we have selected the ACR 128 reader as it supports University of Bradford ID card, dual interface and supports USB connection to the PC and is complaint to ISO 14443 Part 1-4 Type A, B for contactless cards

Design and Implementation of Portable Attendance Monitor

Design of the System

In this figure we elaborate that we have central database and we have one desktop application and one web application. The desktop application is developed in Dot net that basically integrated with RFID card reader when user swaps any card then this information directly goes to the database and on the other end the web application access this information from the database and displays it on mobile browser.

There are three main things need to be discussed in the implementation

  1. Web portal
  2. Windows Application
  3. Database architecture and design
Web Portal

The main features and screens of web portal are:

  1. Login
  2. Roles and Rights
  3. Student registration
  4. Teacher registration
  5. Courses
  6. View attendance
Login

The login module accepts a username and a password from a user. Then it searches in database for the provided username and password. If the record entry is not found, it generates an error message; otherwise it creates a session for the user and depending on the 'type' field against that record, it redirects the user to his/her corresponding homepage e.g. if the type against that record is equal to '1' then user is redirected to student home page and if it is 2 or 3, the user is redirected to teacher or admin home page respectively.

Roles and Rights

The software has total 3 actors; student, teacher and administrator. The database stores only one entity/record of a teacher and an administrator, however there are multiple students. The credentials of each actor are stored in 'login' table as described above; but personal information of a teacher and a student is stored in the 'teacher' and 'student' table respectively. Along with personal information, both of these tables contain 'login_Id' as a foreign key to table 'login' in them. The roles and rights of each actor are described as under:

Administrators

Administrator has almost all rights. Administrator can:

Teachers

Teacher can:

Students

Student can only view his attendance in the courses in which he is registered.

Student Registration

As described in roles and rights section, a student can be registered only by the administrator. The administrator feeds personal information of a student and also assigns registration no, RFID, username and password. A check has been applied through ajax over onblur event of username, that if the entered username already exists in database, the form will not be allowed to be submitted. Thus this module inserts data into two tables in database i.e. 'login' and 'student'.

Teacher Registration

The application allows on one record for a teacher, so it lacks teacher registration module, however teacher's personal information can be edited in the same way as of student information. In short a teacher can be changed, not added.

Courses

The courses information is stored in the table 'course'. The table contains course name and course description.

Attendance

All the attendances are marked in the database table 'attendance'. This table contains the check in and checkout the date and time. Along with it also contains the foreign keys to the tables of teacher, student and course. The attendance marking scenario is handled by the .net application. The scenario is such that on start of class session, teacher selects the course that he is going to teach. Students come and swipe out their cards. The software reads the RFID and makes its entry in database. This time the record is entered with the check in time equal to current date and time but check out time field is empty. When the student leaves, on card swipe, the corresponding record's check out field is updated with the current date time.

Windows Based Application

Database design and architecture

Database diagram

EVALUATION AND TESTING OF THE SYSTEM

CONCLUSION AND FUTURE WORK

The objective of this project is to design and develop a mobile student attendance monitor which is based on the RFID technology. This project changes the hectic manual attendance procedure and works for the automation of the student attendance system. This project facilitates the user in many ways like time saving, efficiency, security and reliability. The use of high end technologies which are used to develop this prototype helps the users to access the regarding attendance information. Other than that, the use of database will also provide secured and controlled data management which increases the reliability of the attendance management systems.

The limitation in the system is that we have to touch the RFID card on the reader to mark the attendance. This can be improved with the help of using ISO 15693 vicinity smart RFID cards, which will increase the communication range. This will also enable the users to mark their attendances by entering the classrooms only, thus eliminating the need to touch the card on the reader. ISO 15693 was established with the main goal of increasing the distance of communication. Whereas the 14443 series was limited by a communication distance of only 10cm, ISO 15693 increased that distance to 50cm – 70cm.

Furthermore, enhancements can be easily done in the system to support additional features like sending feedbacks to students when their attendance level decreases from a certain threshold. Further work needs to be implemented for the system in order to make the appearance better. It can also be used to facilitate the users to mark their attendances in the examination hall and can also be incorporated with the existing university system, to provide the current services used on the university card.

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