aaa RI Witness RFID versus Barcodes in Electronic Witnessing2018-07-25T12:30:30+00:00

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RFID versus Barcodes in Electronic Witnessing

RI Witness uses RFID technology instead of barcodes to constantly safeguard the IVF process, from start to finish. Only RI Witness can monitor every procedure with no workflow interruptions.

Multiple Dishes


RI Witness reads all dishes simultaneously and automatically allowing the operator to work uninterrupted.


Barcodes need to read each each dish, lined up or individually in the line of sight for the scanner to verify that they are compatible.

Samples will need to be taken out of the work area to be checked, which can be disruptive.

Recording Activities


RI Witness monitors the work area under the microscope constantly. Giving 24/7 protection, a check cannot be unintentionally overlooked.


Barcodes security relies on the operator remembering to do checks.  In fact, a procedure can be performed without the activity being logged int he system, no alert or action will be instigated.  The IVF cycle’s security could be compromised.



RI Witness will alert the operator immediately, before samples are manipulated, if incompatible samples are in the same work area. This allows corrective action to be taken while the security of the sample is intact.


Using a human or barcode witnessing system, two unrelated samples can be in the same work area, and may even be manipulated, without the operator being aware that the samples are incompatible.

Perceptual blindness, tiredness, involuntary automaticity5, ambiguous accountability, conscious automaticity and interrupted workflow can all lead to potential mistakes.

Safety of RFID and RI Witness

We understand it is imperative the conditions in your laboratory are optimized for ART procedures.  There is no room for compromise. That is why we use technology that does not harm embryos or humans.


We asked an independant test centre, the University of Liège, Belgium, to devise a comprehensive experiment to prove out theories about the safe use of RFID with gametes and embryos.

For the test they:

  • Increased the output power of the reader by 10x
  • Increased the time that the embryos were in the radio frequency field by 70 times what would be expected in an IVF cycle
  • In the experiment total exposure was 700x what would be expected in an IVF lab


  • Normal development to mouse blastocyst compared to the control group
  • Normal live birth rate (LBR) compared to the control group
  • Normal fertility in the female pups with normal 2nd generation LBR


Every day, we are surrounded by radio frequency emissions from modern technology.

The potential effects radio frequencies have on cells and tissues depend on the frequency and power density to which they are exposed.

The facts:

  • RI Witness RFID tags do not emit or receive radio waves when they are not on a reader or in the incubator
  • The tags are passive, with no internal energy source, so they are only activated when in a 1-5cm range of an RI Witness reader
  • Embryos and gametes are only exposed to the radio frequency fields for short time periods

Statistical Evidence

A four-year statistical analysis in one clinic looked at more than 10,000 live birth, before and after the introduction of  RI Witness.  The analysis showed no changes to results in both live births and malformations over the two periods7.


Our embryology heated plates are CE marked as medical devices (GB98/13044) and FDA cleared.  They offer highly stable heating across the reader.

Our tags and labels are batch tested to MEA >80% survival to blastocyst stage6.

“Numerous patients have informed us that they feel better knowing that this safeguard, RI Witness, is in place.”

Laboratory Director, Overlake Reproductive Health, USA

A Proven and Validated System

Thanks to widespread clinical use of our Electronic Witnessing System (EWS) for over 10 years, multiple posters and papers have been published that cover and discuss questions often raised about RI Witness.

The Real Risk of Human Error

What is the actual risk of mismatches, for labs relying on human double witnessing, without an electronic system to ensure the cycle is secure?

Using RI Witness, several laboratories analysed data from witnessed steps to establish a “true rate of human error”. The studies found their mismatch rate was up to 0.11%1 of witnessed actions. A true mismatch involves mistaking an identity check, other errors, such as administration errors, were discounted.

This is the first time true errors rates have been studied in an IVF laboratory1.

Efficiency In The Lab

How can RI Witness make my lab more efficient?

Human double witnessing means a colleague must double check the identity of patient samples at critical points. This has been mandatory in the UK since 2004.

Since then, extensive comparisons have been undertaken to compare human, barcode and the RI Witness RFID systems. The evidence concluded that RI Witness was faster, more efficient, and ensured samples were out of the incubator for less time overall4 when compared to human double witnessing.

Work Areas
One work area required for each critical working location. Microsoft Windows based PC or Tablet needed for each work area. Readers available heated or unheated. RFID reader frequency: 13.56MHz
Barcode Compatibility (Traceability)
Compatible with GS1 barcodes (GS1-128)
Barcode Scanner (Traceability)
Compatible with USB (Keyboard wedge) fixed and hand held scanners
Camera Compatibility (Imaging)
Research Instruments’ DC1 & DC2, Analogue cameras
RI Witness™ Manager (Client Software) PC System Requirements
Operating Systems: Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Windows XP
Server / Network Requirements
Microsoft SQL Server required (not supplied). Network Point required for each work area

The Order Codes for RI Witness™ will depend on your particular configuration.

 Please contact a distributor in your region

1 Thornhill A, Orriols Brunetti X, Bird S, (2013). Measuring human error in the IVF laboratory using an electronic witnessing system. 17th World Congress on Controversies in Obstetrics,   Gynaecology and Infertility, Lisbon. 1 Thornhill A, Orriols Brunetti X, Bird S, (2013). Measuring human error in the IVF laboratory using an electronic witnessing system. 17th World Congress on Controversies in Obstetrics,   Gynaecology and Infertility, Lisbon.

2 Townsend N, Ah-Moye M, Bunyan K, Engley S, Evans D, Glover L, McClure A, Ogutu D, Richardson L, (2016).  Can electronic witnessing with RFID tags safeguard patients and mitigate risk  in an IVF laboratory?

3 Sanges F, Maggiulli R, Albricci L, Romano S, Scarica C, Schimberni M, Giallonardo A, Vattraino G, Ubaldi F, Rienzi L, (2013).  Implementing an electronic witnessing system into a busy IVF  clinic- one clinic’s experience.

4 Patel B, Schnauffer K, Gregoire R, Kingsland C R, Troup S, (2011).   An investigation into the efficiency of RFID electronic witnessing compared to manual witnessing.

5 Department of Health (2004). Independent review of the circumstances surrounding four adverse events  that occurred in the Reproductive Medicine Units at The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. [online] London.  Available at: [Accessed 12 May 2017].

6 Research Instruments Ltd. (2005). Test Report on Mouse testing of RFID Tagging System “IVF Witness”. Certificate of Analysis (Ectors, FJ, August 2005, GIGA Université de Liège,Belgium)  Certificate of Calibration (Wragge-Morley, B. ETC, UK, May 2005) Certificate of Analysis (Pearce, J, May 2007, Embryotech, Wilmington USA)

7 Obradors, A. (2016). How can we mitigate the risk of error in the IVF Lab?

8 Forte, M., Faustini, F., Maggiulli, R., Scarica, C., Romano, S., Ottolini, C., Farcomeni,  A., Palagiano, A., Capalbo, A., Ubaldi, F. and Rienzi, L. (2016). Electronic witness system in IVF – patients perspective. Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, 33(9), pp.1215-1222.

2017 ESHRE presentation – An 8 year snapshot of insightful data using RI Witness: an absolute necessity for your IVF laboratory – Dr Stephen Troup Scientific Director, IVI UK

Click here to see the presentation on SlideShare 

Q: What is RFID? 
A. RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a generic term for technologies that use radio waves to automatically identify objects. Labels with tiny microchips embedded in them are attached to all plasticware such culture dishes, test tubes and patient identity cards before being assigned to a patient. These microchips are read by the RI Witness readers. There is no need to directly scan the labels, the whole process is automatic and many tags can be read simultaneously.

Q: How does the RFID label transmit the information? 
A: RI Witness uses RFID tags and a reader. The reader sends out electromagnetic waves and the tag receives these waves. The RFID tag draws power from the field created by the reader and uses it to power the microchip’s circuits. The microchip then modulates the waves that the tag sends back to the reader and the reader converts the new waves into digital data.

Q: Are there any health risks associated with RFID and radio waves?
A: RI Witness uses a radio frequency similar to the signals received by your car radio. We have organised exhaustive independent Mouse Embryo Assay (MEA) studies to demonstrate that RI Witness RFID does not have any detrimental effect on the development of embryos. These tests used radio waves which are 700 times stronger than those used by the actual product.

Q: Why is RFID better than using barcodes? 
A: The most significant difference is that barcodes use line-of-sight technology. That is, a scanner has to “see” the barcode to read it, which means it is necessary to orientate the barcode towards a scanner for it to be read. Barcode systems therefore rely on the user remembering to confirm patients’ sperm, oocytes and embryos match. This can be prone to human error, and if not done correctly, can give a false record.

RFID, by contrast, doesn’t require line-of-sight. Tags can be read as long as they are within range of a reader. In addition, multiple RFID tags can be read at the same time, meaning that several items can be identified together. RI Witness uses this ability to automatically check everything that is brought into the working area.

RFID technology provides a level of security that can eliminate human identification errors. It monitors everything in every work area, every second of every day. It also offers an extremely large number of unique identities (UID). This means that each sample container can has its own UID and that procedures can be tracked in detail. The system knows exactly what has happened to the samples and which containers were used. The communication between tag and reader is very secure.