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Powercast PCT100 Tag Employs RF Interrogator Energy to Transmit Sensor Data

The new passive UHF RFID tag can incorporate temperature, humidity and light sensing, and transmits that data at a distance of up to 10 meters.
By Claire Swedberg
Tags: Sensors
Jun 05, 2017

Technology solutions that leverage radio frequency identification and sensors at affordable prices continue to evolve with a new passive RFID tag intended to accommodate multiple sensors and transmit data up to 32 feet using the power from the interrogator. Pennsylvania wireless power technology company Powercast's Multi-Sensor RFID tag (known as the PCT100) includes temperature, humidity and light sensors, while the company says future tags may also incorporate other sensors for monitoring such conditions as strain or motion.

The new tag was released earlier this month at the RFID Journal LIVE! conference and exhibition, held in Phoenix, Ariz. It requires no battery and is intended for capturing low-cost sensor data via RFID at the time that it is interrogated. It can incorporate one, two or all three sensors. It does not, however, have data-logger capacity. A user who wants to collect and store sensor data, even when the tag is not being interrogated, will need to use the PCT200 model with a built-in rechargeable battery for up to one month of data collection without recharging. The PCT200 can harvest energy from RFID interrogators to recharge the battery. The PCT200 also comes with up to three sensors.

The Powercast PCT100 tag
However, the lower-cost option, despite being passive, is designed to be high-powered, the company reports, and can accomplish a read range of up to 10 meters (32.8 feet). "They efficiently harvest very small RF signals (down to -18dBm), allowing them to work [from] up to 10 meters," says Charles Greene, Powercast's COO and CTO. The tag uses an NXP Semiconductors UCODE chip and an RF to DC converter designed by Powercast to harness the energy from the RF signal for DC power.

The tag is designed for use in the industrial or manufacturing industries, to monitor the conditions around products or in an area during shipping or at a manufacturing site. Several businesses are already utilizing the technology to track environmental conditions, Greene reports, including building-automation companies, as well as manufacturing and logistic firms.

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