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Philips' New Low-Frequency Chips

The company says its Hitag S chip is cheaper, requires less power, and offers a longer read range.
Oct 02, 2002October 2, 2002 -- Royal Philips Electronics has introduced a new line of microchips for low-frequency RFID tags. The company says its Hitag S chip is cheaper, requires less power, and offers a longer read range. Among the target applications are tracking animals, casino chips and other items.

Philips already makes a line of Hitag low-frequency integrated circuits. The new Hitag S chips are smaller ? less than one millimeter square ? and can have 32, 256 or 2,048 bits of memory. The smaller size means they require less power, which increases the read range.

"We are committed to having a portfolio that covers all frequency ranges," says Katja Kienzl, manager of segment marketing for tags and labels at Philips. "The Hitag S chip is designed to optimize the features of the existing Hitag platform. Since we use a more cost-efficient manufacturing process, we can provide a more cost-effective solution to our customers."

The cost of the chips depend on volume and packaging, but Kienzl says that in small sample quantities, Hitag S will cost 25 to 50 U.S. cents. Read range is roughly 15 to 20 percent better than RFID transponders that use the existing Hitag 1 and Hitag 2 chips. The new chip is fully compliant with the earlier Hitag chips.

The Hitag S chips can be written to, as well as read, and employ encryption authentication techniques for fraud protection. The chips also use an anti-collision algorithm so that up to 200 tags in one reader field can be read virtually simultaneously.

One of the key markets for the new chip is animal identification. The small chip can be put in a glass tube and injected into the animal. The chip conforms to industry standards ISO11784/85 and ISO14223/1 for animal identification.

The European livestock industry has suffered enormously in the past few years because of Mad Cow disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) and more recently foot-and-mouth disease. The industry has begun to invest greater resources in tracking animals throughout their lifetimes.

The aim of the industry is to be able to better track the origins of problems. It may also be possible to identify the animals that were exposed to a disease and destroyed them, instead of destroying all of the animals. Information on the specific animal, including vaccination records, can be stored on the chip and downloaded by veterinarians.

Other uses for the Hitag S include tracking laundry, waste, reusable containers, even casino chips. A French company, Bourgogne et Grasset, has been using the existing Hitag product in its casino chips. The lower cost of the Hitag S means some customers will likely switch from the existing product.

Philips plans to begin volume production of the Hitag S chip in the first quarter of next year. Among the companies that will be offering tags, labels and cards based on the chip are AEG Identifikationssysteme GmbH, Sokymat, and Stoval Technologies.
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