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Long-distance RFID reader

26-May-2004

A compact RFID reader that offers read ranges as far as 11 metres even when transponders are attached to metal objects has been launched.

Developer Trolley Scan has achieved this by repackaging its super sensitive reader in a new lightweight case that it claims is suitable for mass manufacture, and yet maintains a high standard of performance and electromagnetic compatibility with other users in the RF spectrum.

"The holy grail of RFID is to produce simple, small, efficient transponders that are easy to mass produce and offer good operating range," said Trolley Scan managing director Mike Marsh. "The most frequent asked question is how well RFID systems work in the presence of metal - well the current answer now is 11 metres."

The new reader is housed in a moulded ABS plastic case, weighs just 3.5kg and operates on mains power. It functions on the UHF frequencies of 860MHz to 930MHz using only 10kHz bandwidth and uses a bistatic antenna system that can read up to 500 transponders in a field at a time.

Marsh also believes that the ability of RFID readers to work in close proximity will become an important consideration in the future, with the continuing proliferation of RFID technology.

"As our system operate on only 10kHz bandwidth with a "tag-talks-first" protocol, we are able to have systems operating in very close proximity - something that is not possible with the currently proposed EPC and ISO18000-6 systems."

RFID systems comprise of a transponder that is attached to the goods to be identified and a reader that converts the information in those transponders to a computer compatible format for processing. The transponder can comprise of a simple antenna and a small integrated circuit that can be produced at low cost.

Operating in the 860 to 930 MHz (UHF) band, the transponder can be identified meters away from the reader, can be identified in a group with up to 1,000 other transponders when being read, and can be identified very quickly.

As the system uses radio waves for energy and information transfer, it is not necessary for the transponder and reader to be in line of sight.

The new reader is compatible with the EcoTag, Ecochiptag,Ecowoodtag and the laundry tag produced by Trolley Scan and their licensees.

"This new reader complements our existing range of fixed and portable readers, working with the popular 200 microwatt Ecochiptag credit card sized transponders produced by Trolley Scan and offering very impressive range performance for passive UHF technology," he said.

"With this new reader we continue to lead the way in UHF RFID systems."

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