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Startup Touts 600-foot Read Range for Passive RFID

Mojix is a startup led by former NASA deep space scientists who used their digital signal processing expertise to develop passive RFID technology with 600-foot read range. Mojix says its STAR system can identify individual Gen2 tags within a 250,000 square foot area.
Apr 14, 2008This article was originally published by RFID Update.

April 14, 2008—Mojix, a four-year-old startup in Los Angeles, is introducing its extreme long range passive UHF technology this week. The company claims its STAR 1000 system can read passive, Gen2-standard tags from 600 feet away, cover 250,000 square feet of area, and pinpoint tag location in 3D.

Company CEO Ramin Sadr told RFID Update that Mojix achieved this performance through advances in digital signal processing, RF antenna design, and computational processing power. Mojix's STAR 1000 differs from traditional RFID systems by using separate components to power and read tags.

"There is no rule of physics or regulation that says the receiver and transmitter have to be in the same housing," Kevin Duffy, Mojix senior vice president of sales and marketing, told RFID Update.

Mojix eNode transmitters provide the signal power to excite tags. Multiple eNodes would be deployed in a typical installation. Each eNode can cover an area ranging in size from less than ten to about 30 feet. Once powered by an eNode, tags communicate their data, which is received by a STAR receiver. Mojix specifies 600-foot read range for the STAR receiver, but said it has successfully read tags from more than 1,000 feet away in testing. Mojix guarantees coverage for areas up to 250,000 square feet. The company plans to demonstrate the system during this week's RFID Journal LIVE! exhibition and conference at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas.

Mojix does not produce tags nor does it plan to. The system is Gen2 compatible and supports tag kill commands and other security features in the standard.

Long range is not the only benefit of the technology, according to Mojix. The company says its system is much more sensitive than traditional RFID readers, which provides outstanding performance for identifying individual items packed within a pallet, for example. The technology is also sensitive enough for use as a real-time locating system. RTLS is almost exclusively done with active RFID technology, although a passive system was announced earlier this year (see Startup Brings Locationing to Passive RFID).

Mojix will focus its marketing on supply chain-type applications such as dock door monitoring and inventory management, as well as work-in-process tracking, yard management, and item-level tagging.

"The old school of thought in RFID was to bring goods to the reader, which is a typical portal application, or to bring the reader to the goods, which is a handheld application. Our technology creates a new paradigm," said Sadr.

"RFID is still pretty much a portal-driven exercise," said Duffy. "We believe we can create better ROI opportunities by taking away reliance from the portal. We provide the ability to see goods in a warehouse at any time, not just at chokepoints."

The technology has been in trials for about two years and some customers have production-level systems, according to Mojix. The company could not provide details about its customers, but noted several Fortune 50 customers would be appearing with Mojix during the show to talk about their trials and systems.

The Mojix STAR system is available now, and Mojix is also seeking software partners to develop solutions.

Mojix's 40 employees include 22 engineers and scientists, 17 of whom hold PhDs. Sadr previously worked in NASA's deep space program and developed advanced communication technology that helped the Galileo probe transmit data during its six-year journey to Jupiter. Other employees joined the company from Alien Technology and Gillette's RFID program.

The privately held company was formed in 2003 and has received $22.5 million in venture funding. Its Series B funding was completed in mid-2007 and was led by Oak Investment Partners, a leading venture capital firm with more than $8.4 billion invested. Other investors include Red Rock Ventures and InnoCal Venture Capital.
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