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New Low-Volume RFID Solution

ExypnoTech of Germany is introducing RFID transponders in paper that can be printed using a modified inkjet printer.
Mar 04, 2003March 5, 2003 - Not every company is ready to order 500 million RFID tags. ExypnoTech, a German subsidiary of NanoPierce Technologies of Denver, is introducing a new product for companies that either want to test RFID or use it for an application that requires only a small number of tags.

SmartPaper is standard, letter-size paper with a single embedded RFID transponder. ExypnoTech has modified a standard DeskJet printer from Hewlett-Packard so the printer can encode information on the RFID tag. It is providing software drivers for Microsoft Windows 98, Windows ME, and windows XP (a Linux driver will be ready by the middle of the year), so that companies can print on the paper while simultaneously writing data to the RFID tag.
ExypnoTech reader module

The readers cost $700 to $900, depending on the model and configuration. SmartPaper comes in packages of 100 and 500 and 1,000 sheets. Each sheet costs about $2.50.

A standard RFID label might cost only 50 cents when purchased in large quantities. But the advantage of SmartPaper, according to ExypnoTech president and CEO Michael Wernle, is you don't need to buy 10,000 labels. "In many cases, you can't buy just 1,000 labels," he says. "But there are many applications were companies don't need 10,000 labels."

Wernle gives the example of a golf club that provides members with RFID badges for automatic access to certain facilities. It may want to provide the same convenience to members' guests. But today, it would be very expensive to buy a dedicated RFID label printer and a large supply of smart labels. Law office or doctors offices might also want to track certain key files without making a substantial up front investment.

SmartPaper currently uses 13.56 MHz transponders that are compatible with ISO standards 15693 and ISO 14443. The system can read from and write to RFID tags from Texas Instruments (Tag-it), Philips (I-Code, SLI), Infineon (my-d) and ST-Microelectronics (LRI). The system could work with tags that operate in the 860-928 MHz and 2.45 GHz.

ExypnoTech recently introduced the ET-R family of low-cost-multi-protocol 13.56 MHz RFID readers. The ET-R1 reader module is just 38 mm x 40 mm (see photo), so it can be installed in some printers. OEMs can also integrate it into handheld systems, label printers and other devices. The module comes with an on-board antenna but can also be connected to external antennas for greater range.

The company is selling an RFID-starter kit that includes the ET-R1, sample tags, cable set and CD with software and documentation.

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