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Digital Angel Announces Active Tags for Livestock
The company's new r.Tag has a 100-foot read range, making it possible for a meat producer to not only identify hundreds of animals simultaneously, but also pinpoint their locations.
Feb 02, 2009—Ranchers and other producers and handlers of livestock will soon have a new tool at their disposal for tracking the locations of animals in real time, and with greater precision. RFID vendor Digital Angel has announced a new, battery-powered animal identification tag, known as the r.Tag, that the company says can be read from up to 100 feet away. The r.Tag, according to Digital Angel, allows more efficient, accurate livestock tracking than is presently available using other tags.
Passive RFID tags operating at 134.2 kHz, and compliant with the ISO 11784 and 11785 RFID tag standards, have long been utilized for livestock identification. The tags must be located within a few inches of an interrogator in order to be read, however, requiring livestock producers to force animals to move through narrow checkpoints to be counted, and making it impossible to read the tags of a large number of animals simultaneously.
The r.Tag can be set to transmit an identification number at a regular interval. According to David Sullivan, president of Destron Fearing, the Digital Angel subsidiary that is bringing the r.Tag system to market, this signal is sent at 2.45 GHz to readers that can then relay that data to other interrogators located up to 100 feet away, passing the information through a mesh network until it reaches a receiver, where it can be collected and processed. Sullivan says the r.Tag and readers employ a proprietary air-interface protocol to transmit and receive tag data.
The tags can hold up to 256 bytes of data, and are built into an ear-tag form factor that looks similar to the passive RFID ear tags also sold by Destron Fearing, though the r.Tag is thicker in size due to its battery.
The readers are weatherproof, making them well suited for wide distribution on a farm or in some other rural area. Each interrogator is powered through a small solar panel, which also charges an onboard battery so the reader can operate for up to two sunless weeks. A single reader can interrogate a maximum of 310 tags within its read range. Each tag, Sullivan explains, transmits for milliseconds, and the reader sees them as they talk. "At a certain point," he says, "we reach a point of diminishing return, and therefore we hold to the fact that one reader can see about 310 tags. Beyond that would require a second reader."
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