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MTI Creates EPC Gen 2 USB Reader for Retailer Applications

Microelectronics Technology Inc. says retailers can use its device to do such things as activate the electronic products they sell, as well as access product information from the Internet.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 16, 2010Microelectronics Technology Inc. (MTI) says it has developed an EPC Gen 2 RFID interrogator in the form of a USB dongle that plugs directly into a computer or laptop and costs less than $200. The 1- by 2-inch reader, known as the RU-888-100, contains austriamicrosystems' AS3992 reader chip. It uses RF-iT Solutions detego EXPRESS software to capture reads from the tags, as well as link tag-read information to Internet data. The company plans to release the device in July of this year.

The RU-888-100 was designed primarily for use by retailers, though consumers could also utilize the device in their homes if they had RFID-tagged items they wished to read, and then, via the Internet, access related data on their home PCs. The interrogator, says Darryn Prince, MTI's VP of strategic business development, reads EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags at a distance up to 1 meter (3.3. feet). It was developed for such applications as connecting a user directly to Google online search data regarding a tagged item, based on its ID tag's Electronic Product Code (EPC) number, or accessing advertisements and promotional material on the Internet related to that product. Another potential application, the company reports, is for retailers to employ the reader to activate tagged devices, enabled by NXP Semiconductors' UCODE G2iL and G2iL+ RFID chips (see New NXP RFID Chips Bring Multiple Functions to Item-Level Tagging).

Darryn Prince, MTI's VP
The detego EXPRESS software enables the reader to utilize a computer's Internet connection to communicate with a retailer's back-end enterprise resource planning (ERP) or database system. The software can be configured to directly feed product code information into Internet search engines.

Users first plug the dongle into a USB port of a PC or laptop, then download the detego EXPRESS software from RF-iT Solutions' Web site—at an additional cost of €249 ($226)—and select the function they would like for the reader. There are several use cases from which they can select. Smart interfacing allows the dongle to read a tag and send EPC data encoded on that tag to back-end software running on the computer, or on a retailer's server, thereby indicating the tag has been read (and therefore, for example, that the product has been purchased).

To gain the "Smart Advertising" function, users can select the Internet link option from RF-iT Solutions' Web site, and then input a link between a series of unique tag ID numbers to information on the Internet regarding specific products and services. In that case, when the dongle reader captures a product's tag ID number, it connects EPC data to specific advertising information, such as details about that product that the tag provider and dongle user have predetermined.

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