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"USB Stick" RFID Reader Debuts

iDTRONIC announced a UHF RFID read/write device in a USB stick form factor. The USB Stick can be plugged into PCs, laptops and other devices with USB ports to give them RFID read/write ability. The device has significantly less range than most fixed-position UHF readers and has been envisioned for use in offices.
Aug 12, 2008This article was originally published by RFID Update.

August 12, 2008—The new USB Stick from iDTRONIC Electronic Identification gives any device with a USB port, including laptops, PCs and printers, the ability to read and write Gen2 and ISO 18000-6 standard passive UHF tags. The product is believed to be the first UHF read/write device in a USB stick form factor.

The device measures 120 by 34 by 15 millimeters and draws its power from the device it is plugged into. It complies with ISO 18000-6 Part B and C and the EPCglobal Gen2 standards for use in North America, Europe and Asia. However, it does not match the read range of common fixed-position passive UHF readers, which is often 20 feet or more. iDTRONIC says the maximum range for the USB Stick is 80 cm (approximately 31.5 inches).

"We're in the zone between higher-end industrial readers and lower-end mobile devices," BrightCard founder and president David Finkelstein told RFID Update. BrightCard is iDTRONICS' exclusive U.S. distributor. "The USB form factor starts giving us the ability to bridge between handheld mobile devices and laptop and PCs."

BrightCard and iDTRONICS have each developed RFID readers in different form factors, including Compact Flash (CF) and solid state disk (SSD) products that are integrated into other devices. They also offer USB-based readers for low frequency (125 kHz) and high frequency (13.56 MHz) RFID technologies.

There is no clear immediate market for the UHF USB read/write device, according to Finkelstein. Today UHF technology is commonly used for industrial and supply chain operations, often in warehouses, distribution centers, factories and yards, where general-purpose laptops and PCs are not widely used. Finkelstein expects the market for USB UHF devices to emerge as the overall UHF market continues to mature and organizations develop new processes.

"Once people start using RFID they tend to start thinking about new use cases," he said. "We provide the ability to extend the reach of RFID to the office environment more easily. Wherever there's a warehouse, there's also an office or a back office." Finkelstein also said the USB UHF peripherals could catch on in healthcare relatively early. "Healthcare is a segment where we are seeing a growing interest for a diversity of form factors."

The USB Stick will be available within the month and will come with software necessary for PCs, laptops and other devices to accept RFID data. A software development kit is also available. See the iDTRONIC announcement here.

UHF connectivity options continue to grow. Last month ThingMagic introduced a UHF antenna with WiFi connectivity and Power over Ethernet (POE) options (see New ThingMagic RFID Reader Cuts Cost, Size, and Power).
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