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ODIN Releases Global RFID Tag Benchmark

RFID solutions and deployment provider ODIN technologies today announced the release of the , the latest in the company's RFID hardware benchmark series. The report presents the results and conclusions of labratory tests that ODIN ran on 18 commercially available Gen2 tags from seven different vendors.
Nov 30, 2006This article was originally published by RFID Update.

November 30, 2006—RFID solutions and deployment provider ODIN technologies today announced the release of the Global RFID Tag Benchmark, the latest in the company's RFID hardware benchmark series. The report presents the results and conclusions of laboratory tests that ODIN ran on 18 commercially available Gen2 tags from seven different vendors. The tests focused specifically on each tag's ability to perform globally, across different geographies that impose varying radio frequency restrictions.

The motivation for the report came from the increasingly international scope of RFID deployments. Whereas before deployments were more localized to organizations' domestic markets, now deployments cross continents as end users seek to expand visibility further up their supply chains. ODIN's president and CEO Patrick Sweeney said, "In the past, you selected a tag for the specific region that you were operating in. With the rapid growth of RFID use, this is no longer sufficient. Tags are moving from France to the United States, from South America to Singapore, and from Hong Kong to Los Angeles. Global commerce demands that UHF RFID tags be read consistently no matter what frequencies are used by the readers."

The reason that crossing geographies poses a challenge for RFID is that frequency regulations differ from country to country and region to region. In the US, for example, UHF RFID must operate in the 902-928 MHz range, whereas in Japan the range is 951-954 MHz and in Europe 866-869 MHz. A tag optimized for performance in the US's frequency band will therefore perform differently in Japan and Europe. ODIN aimed to identify Gen2 tags which could be reliably used across all the UHF frequency ranges, not just one or two of them.

The company selected 18 tags from seven different vendors: Alien Technology, Avery Dennison, KSW, OMRON, UPM Raflatac, RSI, and Symbol. In deciding which 18 tags to test, ODIN looked at what tags are already widely adopted in global deployments. It also approached the tag vendors, asking them which tags from their product portfolios would be most suitable from cross-geography usage.

The 18 tags are grouped into two categories: "Jumbo" tags are those whose form factors are larger than 5.5 square inches, while "General Purpose" are those smaller than 5.5 square inches. Typically, Jumbo tags perform better than the smaller General Purpose tags because their generous surface area facilitates RF wave propagation. However, the larger form factor also means they are as much as two to four times more expensive and that they are impractical for tagging smaller items and containers. "There are many organizations that don't have the luxury of using Jumbo tags, either because of price or because of footprint," ODIN's chief operating officer Bret Kinsella told RFID Update.

Below is a list of all the tags tested:

Vendor Tag Name Type
Alien 2x2 General Purpose
  Castle General Purpose
  M General Purpose
  Omni Squiggle Jumbo
  Squiggle General Purpose
Avery Dennison AD-612 Jumbo
KSW Excalibur Jumbo
  Templar General Purpose
OMRON Loop Jumbo
  Wave General Purpose
Raflatac Dogbone General Purpose
  Frog Jumbo
RSI 633 General Purpose
  Banjo Jumbo
  Jumping Jack General Purpose
  Thin Propeller General Purpose
Symbol 2x4 General Purpose
  4x4 Jumbo


Kinsella wouldn't tell RFID Update which the best-performing tags were, noting only that "Raflatac and KSW did very well." He also pointed out that about half tested well enough across all frequency ranges that they could viably be used in a cross-continental deployment. "Clearly right now there are eight or nine tags that do pretty well across multiple geographies."

One of the surprise findings was that Jumbo tag performance did not always beat that of the General Purpose tags. "Two of the top six performing tags are General Purpose tags," Kinsella said.

He also noted the strong performance of Gen2 overall, something that has been one of this year's bright spots. In fact, Kinsella said that Gen2 performance has improved even since January, when ODIN conducted the first Gen2 tag benchmark (see ODIN Releases Gen2 Tag Benchmark).

ODIN put each tag through a test regimen which focused on a number of different performance variables, including "power effectiveness", the consistency and efficiency of tag performance; "distance", the distance performance at three global frequencies; "orientation sensitivity", the performance at nine different angles at three global frequencies; "material dependence", the performance on three materials at three global frequencies; and "interference rejection", which is how tags compare at blocking dense reader noise.

The Global RFID Tag Benchmark is available for purchase and download on ODIN's website. The enterprise user license costs $1,500, the single user license $750.
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