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Active RFID Tag Supports Multiple Frequencies

Axcess International announced its frequency-agile Dot tag, which can support multiple RFID frequencies ranging from low frequency 125 KHz to Gen2-standard UHF. The active tag also has an I/O port so users can add external memory.
Nov 09, 2007This article was originally published by RFID Update.

November 9, 2007—A new active tag from Axcess International operates at multiple frequencies ranging from low frequency 125 KHz used for access control and parking gate applications to Gen2 UHF. A software-defined radio (SDR) has been incorporated into the tag so that a single chip can be read from up to 300 feet away by standard readers operating at different frequencies.

"We were able to marry a software-defined radio with a processor in a common piece of silicon," Axcess president and CEO Allan Griebenow told RFID Update. "The software-defined radio means the tag has frequency agility that allows it to be read within a range of frequencies."

The "Dot" tag also has an I/O port that can be used to add external memory to the tag, which comes with 56 kilobits internal memory. Its lithium battery should last about five years, according to Griebenow, although actual performance varies by product configuration and usage conditions. Dot tags are backward compatible with legacy Axcess RFID systems that operate at 433 MHz, in addition to supporting other frequencies.

The product will first be released in a credit-card size form factor for use in personnel ID, access control, emergency management, and IT asset tracking applications, Griebenow said. One version of the tag will cost less than $5, which is less than the company's current tag offerings.

"We see that when tags end up below $10, you can get very fast ROI by displacing labor cost for taking inventory of assets or finding equipment for routine maintenance," Griebenow said. "We think IT asset management is a very robust market for this product."

Other potential uses the company cited are integration with sensors for monitoring goods or assets, vehicle tracking for yard management, work-in-process tracking, materials management, inventory counting, and various personal ID applications.

A version of Dot that supports 13.56 MHz high-frequency technology could be developed in the future. A UHF-HF agile tag could ease the compatibility concerns of pharmaceutical manufacturers who are unsure of which technology to choose for electronic pedigree and traceability applications. However, active tag prices remain too high to enable widescale item-level tagging programs.

The asset management market is driving RFID product innovation. RF Code recently announced a Bluetooth peripheral for asset tracking that lets PDAs and other Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices read 433 MHz tags (see New Mobile Active RFID Reader Goes Anywhere), and OATSystems released a vertical market-focused software system for RFID asset management and work-in-process tracking (see OATSystems Tags RFID Sweet Spots, WIP and Retail).

RTLS is an alternative to active RFID for asset tracking and is also an innovative and fast-growing segment of the RFID market. See Active RFID's Growing Role in Overall Market and Analyst on the Growing Market for WiFi-based RTLS for additional perspectives and market data.

See the Dot announcement from Axcess International
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