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Low-Cost Tags for Vehicle ID

Sirit will use Matrics' UHF tags as a low-cost option for parking and vehicle access applications.
By Bob Violino
Mar 17, 2003March 18, 2003 - Sirit Technologies is moving up in the frequency spectrum. The Mississauga, Ontario-based subsidiary of iTech Capital Corp. is replacing its low-frequency (134 KHz) Hands Free vehicle identification product with UHF tags from Matrics of Columbia, Maryland.

Sirit plans to use Matrics' UHF transponder with Sirit's own reader, antenna and software systems. The new offering, to be part of the company's Identity Flex product line, will allow for read ranges of 15 to 20 feet, according to Fred Veinot, Sirit's VP of marketing and strategy. The tags are typically placed on the driver's side of a car's windshield.
A Matrics UHF tag

Sirit's Hands Free product had a read range of about six feet. Sirit phased out the 134 KHz technology last year in anticipation of the new UHF offering. The new UHF tags are also cheaper than the 134 KHz tag, according to Veinot. Matrics' is currently selling UHF tags for about 50 cents when a customer purchases one million or more units.

For toll collection and other applications, Sirit also offers Identity Flex active transponders, which come with a small battery that lasts about four years. They are available from distributors for $15 to $20. Each Identity Flex reader supports four separate antenna locations.

Sirit has been supplying vehicle identification and electronic toll collection systems for several years. It provided the system used at the Golden Gate Bridge. Because of its longer read range, the UHF product opens up new potential markets, including access to municipal parking lots and trailer access to a fleet yard. Veinot says the company is also looking to market the system as a payment option for drive-thru establishments.

Sirit embarked on a pilot with McDonald's in 1999 for just that purpose but McDonald's has since decided not to pursue a full-scale rollout. Cost of implementation was a factor in that decision, says Veinot, who is hoping the new offering will break the price barrier for some hesitant customers.

Sirit is also adopting standards as a way to reassure customers investing in RFID technology. Matrics' RFID chips are based on the Auto-ID Center's emerging Class 0 UHF specification. Sirit's electronic toll collection technology is compliant with California's Title 21 standard.

"We're committed to open standards," says Veinot. "By subscribing to Class 0 UHF standards, we can reduce the barriers for organizations looking for multi-state implementations," he says. "If there's a standard, then they don't run the risk of subscribing to proprietary technology."

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