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Zebra Releases Dart Sensor to Meet New UWB Standard

The recently approved IEEE 802.15.4f specification provides an open standard that will enable ultra-wideband RFID technology users to mix products for the most competitive solution.
By Claire Swedberg
The objective with standardization was simplicity, Harrington says, and the IEEE 802.15.4f Task Group thus spent two years working to develop a standard that would make the technology low-cost to manufacture, with no custom chips required, and that could provide a long read range with low power consumption. The PHY was designed to provide accuracy greater than 1 meter (3.3 feet), the ability to accomplish 1 Hertz (Hz) transmission rates, and a seven-year battery life for ultra-wideband systems.

The new standard, Harrington notes, will promote competition by allowing users to mix and match the technologies they employ in order to build an appropriate UWB or active RFID solution. Technology providers and users worked together closely on the standard development, he reports, adding, "It was a very cooperative effort" that benefits all technology providers. "If the (active RFID) industry grows, we all get a piece of that (growth)."

"This is an example where vendors find some common ground in a collaborative way," Liard states, that is likely to benefit the UWB and active RFID industries, as well as end users. Customers, he adds—particularly large "tier-one" organizations—prefer a standard and are likely to be less comfortable with proprietary technology.

The Dart sensor is presently being used by companies within the aerospace industry, such as The Boeing Co., to track high-value and specialized tools used for building aircraft. West Cheshire College, located in the United Kingdom, is utilizing the technology to track attendance and monitor students' time in class. While Zebra has released the new open-standard version of the Dart sensor, it intends to offer new 802.15.4f-compatible tags in the near future.

The new Dart sensor does not vary in performance or features from its predecessor, Harrington says. "The focus for our latest DART product was to ensure it was hardware-compliant with the new standard, ensuring full compliance via a simple software upgrade," he explains. "UWB products that are not hardware-compliant will need to be physically replaced to be compliant with the new standard. Zebra's focus is on ensuring the lowest total cost of ownership for our customers, while ensuring they do not suffer any major downtime as they adopt the new standard."

Zebra also offers the Dart Vision Reader (DVR), a standalone unit housed in an all-weather enclosure and designed for use in outdoor environments. The DVR, which is compliant with IEEE 802.15.4f, can be used in conjunction with Dart sensors when a deployment requires both indoor and outdoor tracking.

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