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RFID News Roundup

Farsens intros flexible platform for developing battery-free wireless sensors ••• Auburn University RFID Lab launches Tagged Item Certification Program ••• Bluvision, Beam Wallet team on rewards program ••• Aquabit Spirals unveils Smart Plate to deliver content to shoppers ••• RFID Professional Institute announces first official certification exam.
By Beth Bacheldor
Mar 12, 2015

The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations: Farsens; the Auburn University RFID Lab; Bluvision, Beam Wallet; Aquabit Spirals; and the RFID Professional Institute.

Farsens Intros Flexible Platform for Developing Battery-Free Wireless Sensors

Farsens, a Spanish developer of RFID sensor tags, has unveiled the Spider, an evaluation platform designed for developers that want to create ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID battery-free sensors and actuators using Farsens' ANDY100 chip and whichever microcontroller they choose. With the new Spider, developers can also use the tag's serial peripheral interconnect (SPI) master module to drive a sensor, without the need for a microcontroller, thus avoiding the extra cost and power consumption. By balancing power consumption against read range, Farsens reports, developers can more easily prototype different ideas and create proof-of-concepts that can later be implemented into final products.

The Spider
The new evaluation board follows Farsens' release of its Medusa platform in January (see RFID News Roundup: Farsens Unveils Development Platform for Battery-Free Wireless Sensors, Actuators), which includes Farsens' ANDY100 chip and a MSPG2233IPW20 general-purpose, low-power microcontroller from Texas Instruments. Both the Medusa and the Spider harvest energy from the RF field created by the RFID reader, in order to power up the chip, the microcontroller, and the circuitry and devices attached to it.

The ANDY100 works under standard EPC Gen 2 commands, using any standards-based UHF RFID reader, so no proprietary or custom commands are necessary. It includes an RF front end for UHF RFID power harvesting and communication, an SPI master to drive sensors, and a startup circuit to allow developers to work directly with SPI sensors or connect a microcontroller of their choice for further processing.

"The reason for offering both is the utility for the users," says Mikel Choperena, Farsens' product development manager. "Some of the users want to make it easy to develop battery-free tags with external devices. These can be sensors, actuators, displays or basically anything with low power consumption. For them, the Medusa is great because they can program the microcontroller and forget about the rest. However, we have had demands from users that actually want to test and use the ANDY100 chip. Even though the Medusa was good for them, the Spider allows them to not only not be tied to the TI microcontroller, but also to think about different ways to implement their solutions. Effectively, they have access to the pins of the IC, so they are not limited to our understanding of how products should be designed, and they can design their own."

Farsens designs and manufactures fully passive RFID sensor solutions. Its proprietary UHF RFID IC allows Farsens to develop long-range solutions for asset tracking (via the tag's unique ID number) and monitoring (via an integrated sensor), without the need for any battery on the tag.

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