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A Plethora of RFID Products

Vendors are innovating, and that's good for end users.
By Mark Roberti
Apr 08, 2013

I often receive e-mails from readers asking if there is a radio frequency identification tag that can survive an autoclave, a reader that can be placed on a forklift truck, or a handheld that can indicate how close or far away a tag is located. These days, the answer is almost always "Yes." (I say almost always because occasionally, someone wants a passive high-frequency [HF] tag that can be read from four miles away, or one that can be read within a lead-lined safe.)

This year, a record number of new products will be introduced at our upcoming RFID Journal LIVE! 2013 conference and exhibition, which will be held in Orlando, Fla., from Apr. 30 to May 2. As I looked through the new product submissions, I was impressed by the variety of innovative products designed to help companies address their business issues. A few years ago, it was difficult to find a passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) transponder that would work well in the presence of metal. Now, Omni-ID and Xerafy offer on-metal tags that come right out of Zebra Technologies label printers.

Until recently, there were essentially three form factors for UHF readers: fixed readers for portals, mobile versions for carts and industrial handheld units. At LIVE! 2013, many of these conventional readers will be on display, but there will also be devices designed to be placed overhead in a store to create a broad read field, as well as tablet readers, UHF interrogators that can be mounted on smartphones and a model small enough to fit on a keychain.

In addition to passive UHF RFID, there's an explosion of new passive HF and Near Field Communication (NFC) products as well. This year's event will also feature the largest number of active RFID systems exhibited, including those employing the Dash7 standard, ultra-wideband (UWB), Wi-Fi, ZigBee and proprietary protocols.

Software has always been a weak area for RFID, with a few companies, such as GlobeRanger, OATSystems and RFID Global Solution, dominating the market. But there are newcomers this year, and we are starting to see the introduction of complete solutions. Many active RFID system providers now offer software for managing assets with their tags and readers. InfoChip and other companies offer passive hardware, software and services. (To view additional products that will be exhibited at LIVE! 2013, visit www.rfidjournalevents.com/live/products.php.)

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