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AWID Readies PCMCIA Card Reader

The multi-protocol reader will be compatible with ISO standards and the Auto-ID Center's EPC spec.
By Bob Violino
Tags: Standards
Dec 05, 2002Dec. 5, 2002 - AWID, a Monsey, N.Y., maker of RFID components and subsystems, is developing a multi-protocol UHF reader in PCMCIA card for a major auto-identification systems provider. The reader will be compatible with ISO-18000 Type A and B protocols and the Auto-ID Center's UHF specification.

So far, several companies have announced plans to market UHF readers that are compatible with the Auto-ID Center's electronic product code (EPC), including Alien, ThingMagic, and SAMSys. AWID is the first to produce a handheld reader.

The benefit of putting the reader components in a PCMCIA card is the card will work with ruggedized or semi-ruggedized handheld computers, which many companies are already using in warehouses, distribution centers and retail stores.

Donny Lee, AWID's president and CEO, says AWID should have a prototype of the PCMCIA card reader ready by the end of February or early March. The product should be on the market in the second quarter of next year.

Intermec is one of the few companies that is currently marketing a PCMCIA card reader. But Intermec's product works only with its own tags. The AWID solution will be attractive to many businesses because it will work both with the major ISO standards and with the Auto-ID Center's EPC specification. Plus, AWID also plans to produce a 13.56 MHz reader, so users can swap out the UHF card to read the tags operating at the lower frequency.

The unit will use 1/2 watt of power and will have a read range of four to five feet. Since the RFID reader uses up battery power fairly quickly, the unit will have some power management features. For instance, it will shut itself off automatically if it hasn't been used to scan a tag for a while.

"Pricing for the card hasn't been finalized," says Lee. "But it will sell for considerable less than $1,000."

Last month, AWID became a sponsor of the Auto-ID Center. Lee says he was reluctant to join because he expected the center to spend several years developing its technology and running beta tests.

"Then at the Frontline Expo, I saw that Alien's tag is real," he says. "I spoke with Alien and decided that it was time to join. I felt it is better to be inside the tent looking out than outside looking in."

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