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Bristol ID Announces Dual-Frequency and Asset-Tracking Tags

The printed-card manufacturer is offering a dual-frequency tag that supports a combination of LF, HF or UHF passive RFID technologies, while the asset-tracking UHF tags can be custom designed and printed for a variety of applications.
By Claire Swedberg
May 07, 2013

Bristol ID, a New York-based manufacturer of custom-printed plastic cards, ID badges, hangtags, signs and key fobs, is furthering its development of radio frequency identification technology offerings with a new dual-frequency RFID card or asset-tracking tag that accommodates two passive RFID chips able to transmit to a reader in the ultrahigh-frequency (UHF), high-frequency (HF) or low-frequency (LF) bands. The company is also offering new asset-tracking UHF tags that can be custom-designed, manufactured and shipped within approximately a week. The dual-frequency cards and tags are commercially available now, and are being tested by some of Bristol ID's existing customers. The company made its announcement at RFID Journal LIVE! 2013, held last week in Orlando, Fla.

Bristol ID provides custom EPC Gen 2 UHF RFID hangtags that can be attached to a car's rearview mirror, to provide access to a parking lot.

Bristol ID has sold plastic printable cards and badges since 1975, with a focus on ID and security badges, as well as loyalty cards. The firm began offering badges with built-in RFID technology for access-control and tracking applications in 2009. Initially, says Keith Yeates, Bristol ID's CEO, the company's customers—systems integrators and resellers who provide the cards to end users—had begun requesting passive UHF RFID technology that would enable users to accomplish tasks (such as passing through a secure gate) as a way of indicating that they had arrived, without having to remove the badge from a pocket or wallet. The company also began embedding HF and LF RFID technologies into badges, when requested (as an alternative to UHF RFID inlays), thereby requiring a user to place a badge or ID card near a reader. The growth in the company's RFID business has been significant, Yeates reports. Currently, he says, about 20 percent of the firm's growth has been in relation to its RFID products, which have centered almost exclusively on cards that track individuals, not objects.

Bristol ID's Keith Yeates

Leveraging its card-manufacturing capabilities, Bristol ID has now decided to release two new offerings—passive EPC Gen 2 UHF RFID tags in custom form factors for tracking assets and other items, as well as a dual-frequency card that can talk to readers in two different frequencies when interrogated.

The dual-frequency passive RFID cards are available in three combinations: HF-UHF, HF-LF and UHF-LF. The HF inlay is compliant with the ISO 14443 standard (which can also be used for Near Field Communication [NFC] applications), while the UHF inlay complies with the EPC Gen 2 standard and the LF inlay operates at 125 or 134 kHz compliant with proprietary air-interface protocols for access control. The most common use case to date, according to Yeates, has been the ID badge or access-control card that a business' employees may carry in order to enter a building or access a specific area of a facility. Often, he says, these badges already have existing passive LF or HF chips. The company typically intends to add a UHF gate somewhere at its facility, and hopes to spare staff members from having to carry two badges, which would also be more expensive than the single dual-frequency card.

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