New Tag, Reader Capabilities Introduced at RFID World

The upgrades come as more companies and organizations such as NASA look to RFID to streamline supply-chain operations and meet regulatory and compliance mandates.

At the annual RFID World conference in Dallas, a number of tag and reader manufacturers announced new products that include EPC Generation 2 tags designed for broadband, case-and-pallet applications; high-speed, tag-programming capabilities; and new wireless functionalities.

The upgrades come as more companies and organizations such as NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) look to RFID to streamline supply-chain operations and meet regulatory and compliance mandates.

RF SAW Inc., for example, announced that NASA will use its portable version of GST (Global SAW Tag) system to streamline ground and space operations. SAW stands for Surface Acoustic Wave. Using this technology, GST enables long-range reading of RFID signals in harsh environmental conditions to enable readers to monitor factors such as position, direction and temperature.

Bringing in the latest tag and reader standards from EPC-Gen 2, Checkpoint Systems Inc. partnered with Texas Instruments to develop several new RFID labels and tags designed for case-and-pallet applications using UHF (Ultra High Frequency) to send and read signals along the retail supply chain.

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The labels and readers, announced at RFID World on March 27, combine Checkpoints manufacturing attachment process for CheckSi straps—a patent-pending strap designed to be attached at high speeds to various antenna designs without modifications to the strap—with Gen 2 UHF silicon from TI and Impinj Inc. The strap is also designed to be "converting friendly" and can be attached to numerous antenna designs, officials said. The labels and tags are offered in several different sizes as well as in wet and dry inlay formats.

"We believe this new line of labels and tags will offer more flexibility to our customers to help them satisfy their global supply-chain requirements, while providing the advantages of increased performance in the key areas of accuracy and sensitivity," said George Off, Checkpoints CEO, in a statement.

Separately, Alien Technology Corp. announced its LoadImage RFID tag-programming technology to the entire UHF reader industry so that any vendors Gen 2 RFID reader can be configured to program and lock on an Alien Gen 2 tag in about 23 milliseconds, providing some much-needed interoperability between various tags and readers. Aliens LoadImage, available for download, helps RFID tag-commissioning and labeling to be integrated into users high-speed manufacturing processes.

To better enable this process, Alien released a document, Alien Technology LoadImage Command Application Note 1, that can be used by reader programmers to program the memory of the Alien Gen 2 integrated circuit—and lock into a single-write operation using one custom command. This is a real contrast to standard Gen 2 write commands that require programmers to repeat the same function a dozen times for a dozen distinct write cycles, according to Alien officials. The LoadImage command also writes all required EPC code as well as kill, access and lock codes in a single cycle.

Taking the wireless approach to RFID tags and readers, Axcess International Inc. and Wireless Dynamics Inc. each announced new products designed to make it easier to read and write wireless RFID equipment.

Axcess previewed a new, smaller wireless tag—the smallest active tag available, officials said—designed to be automatically identified and located at doorways and other control points without human intervention. The other selling point, according to Axcess, is the tag is designed to be attached to even the hardest to read metal-laden objects—laptops and other computer equipment, for example.

Since RF signals are absorbed and altered by metal and water, Axcess has designed a Dual-Active system that uses a low RF frequency band to "wake up" sleeping tags and then send the tag IDs and location using a more robust frequency.

Wireless Dynamics, on the other hand, announced a low-frequency RFID Reader/Writer SD Card, the SDiD 1210, that enables Smartphones and PDAs (personal digital assistants) to read and write low-frequency tags.

The idea is that with SDiD 1210, RFID tag-data transactions can be processed in real time through mobile connections. The card is suited for most LF RFID applications, including pet and livestock animal identification, herd management, asset tagging, oilfield logistics and process compliance, officials said.

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