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To Thwart Stray RFID Reads, IDRO Develops Glowfly
The Korean company plans to soon release its reader, which works in conjunction with an antenna fitted with an LED to activate EPC Gen 2 tags with photoelectric sensors.
May 31, 2013—
Radio frequency identification technology is often touted for its ability to read tags without requiring a line-of-sight, thereby making reads much faster than, for example, scanning a bar code. There are also times, however, that non-line-of-sight reading creates problems. The unintended reading of RFID tags—also known as stray or collision reads—can cause data errors in a variety of applications. One application subject to such errors is a retail space in which only the tags of certain items in a dense environment should be read (such as those intended for loading at a specific dock door). Others include parallel conveyors, in which an interrogator may inadvertently capture the ID number of a tag on a different conveyor, or industrial or construction sites at which pinpointing a tag's exact location is necessary to determine if a piece of machinery may need to be shut down for safety reasons.
One company working to create a solution to the stray-read problem is IDRO (Identification with Radio and Optical). Since its founding in 2008, the South Korean firm has been working to develop its Glowfly (Visible RFID) system, consisting of an RFID reader with an antenna that transmits not only an RF signal, but also a signal in the form of visible light. IDRO's patented IDRO900V reader works in conjunction with an EPC Gen 2 battery-assisted passive RFID tag equipped with a photoelectric sensor. In order for IDRO's Visible RFID tag to transmit its unique identifier, it must first detect the visible signal transmitted by a light-emitting diode (LED) built into the reader's antenna. In that way, tags cannot be inadvertently interrogated if they fall outside of that light beam.
Traditionally, to avoid stray reads, users and installers often adjust a reader's output power, as well as the positioning of antennas, in order to minimize the read area. But this practice, says Yanggi Kang, IDRO's CEO, is time-consuming and error-prone.
IDRO's ANT45LEDZ reader antenna emits a modulated light beam that acts as a command from a reader, instructing the Glowfly tag's passive EPC Gen 2 chip to transmit a backscattered signal in response to the interrogator's RF signal. In this way, users can control read range by light. The IDRO900V reader has four antenna ports, and can thus support up to four ANT45LEDZ antennas.
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