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Report Reveals RFID Performance on Different Surfaces

Comprehensive test results that show how Gen2 inlays perform when used in different common RFID tag materials are now available from the European EPC Competence Center (EECC). The tests revealed significant performance differences based on vendor, material, and geographic region.
Tags: Retail
Jun 19, 2008This article was originally published by RFID Update.

June 19, 2008—Researchers at the European EPC Competence Center (EECC) in Neuss, Germany, released a new report on comprehensive testing that shows how various UHF RFID chips from different vendors perform when attached to different surfaces. Users can reference the report, UHF Tag Performance Survey (UTPS), to determine how RFID tags will perform when applied to their specific products, packaging, or assets.

"We want to introduce to the customer an easy tool for qualifying the right tag for their application," Conrad von Bonin, manager of the EECC, told RFID Update by e-mail. "Many business owners look for a transponder that is suitable for a number of different products and goods in an effort to bundle their order volumes. The new UTPS enables users to estimate the transponder performance ranges on various materials, which was previously no simple task."

The tests measured 20 different UHF inlays from six different vendors (Alien Technology, Avery Dennison, KSW Microtec, Omron, RSI ID Technologies, and UPM Raflatac). All inlays conformed to either the Gen2 and/or the ISO 18000-6C standard and were tested separately at the frequencies allowed for use in Asia, Europe, and North America. Each transponder type was tested on eight different substrates commonly used to create tags, including paper, synthetic, glass, and fabric. Researchers then used computer modeling to predict tag performance on additional materials derived from the tested substrates.

Every tag performed differently at the different frequencies used in different regions of the world, and there were also significant performance differences among tags from different vendors, according to von Bonin. Some tags outperformed others on the same material by a factor of five, and not all tags worked on all materials, von Bonin said. He also noted tag performance is improving. The EECC produced similar research last year, but did not test on different subsurfaces.

"We see that the tags get better every year," von Bonin said. "The new generation of chips...has rapidly increased performance. Tags have become much more stable in performance in the last year."

The EECC was formed by representatives from leading German RFID end users and GS1 Germany, the German association that manages EPC and other GS1 standards there. In 2005 the EECC became Europe's first EPCglobal-certified performance testing facility.

"From our point of view it is essential for customers and vendors to get transparency about the performance to avoid misleading RFID solutions," von Bonin said. "We [EECC] hope that this testing can help to speed RFID deployment. That's the aim of the EECC: successful RFID deployment."

The 2008 UHF Tag Performance Survey is available from the EECC for €795, or for €395 as part of a five-year subscription. The report appears unique among RFID testing and research. ODIN technologies, a for-profit RFID development and integration firm, periodically releases RFID technology benchmark test results, but has not released a report on UHF tags since 2006. EPCglobal oversees interoperability testing to certify whether products comply with its standards, including Gen2. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology recently announced a research service for RFID tag developers to design and test prototypes (see New Method Promises Cheaper RFID Tag Development).

Also, organizations and individuals can design and conduct their own RFID tests at numerous labs, test centers, and universities around the world -- see RFID Centers Offer a Chance to Try Before You Buy and 50+ RFID Labs and Test Centers Identified Worldwide for more background on these services and a listing of facilities.
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