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New RFID Tag Extends Memory, Range in Tough Environments

Avery Dennison introduced the AD-902, a rugged Gen2 passive UHF tag with 512 bits of user memory. A refinery used the AD-902 to replace its active RFID employee ID tags that are used to track emergency response personnel.
Nov 13, 2008This article was originally published by RFID Update.

November 13, 2008—Avery Dennison introduced a ruggedized passive UHF tag with more range, memory and environmental resistance than its predecessors in the company's portfolio. The new AD-902 is an ISO 18006-C/Gen2 tag that is made from plastic and has an IP65 environmental resistance rating. It has 240 bits of EPC memory and 512 bits of user memory.

"We're seeing demand for extended memory tags now that chips are available," Avery Dennison product manager George Dyche told RFID Update. "It may be because people want to add more information about the item being tracked so they can reduce their database interactions."

Avery Dennison's AD-902 tag replaces the AD-900, which has 96 bits of user memory. The new AD-902 uses the G2XM chip that NXP introduced last year (see NXP Doubles Memory on Gen2 RFID Chips).

The AD-902 measures 6.18 by 1.38 by 0.32 inches and can be used in temperatures ranging from -40°F (-40°C) to 149°F (65°C). It has been optimized for use on and around metal and is available in versions that conform to U.S. and European frequency standards.

Omicron Technologies, an IT solutions provider, replaced active RFID tags with the AD-902 in its system for tracking emergency response personnel. Omicron switched from proprietary active RFID personnel ID tags to AD-902 tags because they have more memory, give acceptable performance, and provide the advantages of being standardized and less expensive than active technology.

"We've been evaluating the possibility of using passive RFID in our system for more than a year," Omicron CEO Lionel Rabb told RFID Update. "We tested lot of tags, and the AD-902 gave us more read range than was previously possible with passive."

In the Omicron system, a safety officer uses a handheld RFID reader to check in first responders as they enter the emergency site. Users are also identified at various checkpoints and when they leave the area. Getting accurate reads is a challenge and range is important because usage conditions vary, ID badges are worn close to the body under protective gear, and first responders want to move quickly.

"We had to use active RFID before to get any kind of read range," said Rabb. "With the new passive system we get a minimum of five-foot read range and up to 15 feet."

Omicron has converted one of its customers, a refinery, to the new passive tags. The previous tags only had enough memory to encode an ID number. Now the emergency responder's full name is encoded along with the ID number.

"Due to the lack of network connectivity and automatic lookup capability, we're putting more information on the tag," said Rabb.

Users with work-in-process tracking, asset management and pedigree applications are also interested in extended memory tags, according to Dyche. He said the AD-902 was not created to compete with active RFID, but to provide high-memory tag options for challenging environments.
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