Affiliations: Department of Innovation Engineering, University of Salento, Lecce, Italy | Department of Therapeutic Research and Medicine Evaluation of the Italian National Institute of Health, Rome, Italy
Note:  Corresponding author: Luigi Patrono, Assistant Professor, Department of Innovation Engineering, University of Salento, Lecce, Italy. Tel.: +39 0832 297330; Fax: +39 0832 325362; E-mail: [email protected]
Abstract: Animal tracking and animal behavior analysis have a crucial impact in biomedical disciplines to study new pathologies and effects of new drugs. There are several solutions, based on different technologies such as GPS, radar, and vision, designed to obtain animals tracking systems, but they are effective mainly in presence of large size animals and outdoor environment. Unfortunately, they show poor performance when groups of small laboratory animals have to be monitored in indoor environments. In such a context, the adoption of passive Near Field (NF) Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology seems to be a winning approach, even though the straightforward use of commercial solutions does not guarantee satisfactory performance. Specifically, customized hardware and software solutions are then required. The main goal of this work is to present the development and then to validate a reliable and effective system for the automatic tracking of laboratory mice, based on suited NF UHF RFID hardware capturing system combined with an ad hoc software system able to guarantee hardware control, data processing, and reporting. In particular, the validation phase has been carried out by selecting the most appropriate RFID tags and by surgically implanting them into laboratory mice. Experimental results have demonstrated the efficiency of the proposed solution, which is able to gather data on the animal movements, allowing their subsequent processing for a satisfactory behavioral analysis.
Keywords: Animal behavior, implantable biomedical devices, medical information systems, RFID tags, UHF antennas, natural environment