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ATI Partners to Deliver Passive RFID Sensor

American Thermal Instruments has licensed innovative technology that would prevent a tag from transmitting its signal unless the ambient temperature exceeded a preset threshold.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Jun 30, 2011American Thermal Instruments (ATI), a Dayton, Ohio-based manufacturer of temperature-sensing RFID tags and other temperature-based products, such as forehead thermometers, has established a license with Bob Kauffman, a researcher at the University of Dayton Research Institute, to develop new passive high-frequency (HF) and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID sensors that have an innovative trigger mechanism.

ATI plans to turn Kauffman's design into a finished product within 18 months or less. The company currently sells active HF 13.56 MHz RFID tags, marketed as LOG-IC tags, with an integrated temperature sensor, but tags built on the SMART (Status and Motion Activated Radiofrequency Tag) design would be passive, and thus less expensive.

"We worked out a deal where we will license the technology, and ATI will use it for applications in the areas we service," says Randal Lane, ATI's president. The technology will be employed primarily to monitor perishable foods and temperature-sensitive drugs or chemicals, and companies in other industries will be able to sublicense the technology from ATI as well.

Kauffman developed and prototyped the tag design in response to a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Following the 1996 crash of Trans World Airlines (TWA) Flight 800, the FAA assigned a team of researchers to investigate the accident's cause.

The team, which included Kauffman, established that exposed fuel-sensor wires, which had become unmoored and lost insulation during the plane's lifetime, had likely sparked an explosion. With the help of an additional $200,000 FAA grant, Kauffman set out to develop technologies that could prevent further such accidents from occurring.

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