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New Impinj Chip Promises Higher Sensitivity, Read Range and Flexibility

The Monza R6 can retune itself according to its environment and test the integrity of the EPC and TID numbers encoded to it, and features two copper pads to make antenna attachment easier and cheaper.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 03, 2014

As the use of RFID tags on an item-level basis in the retail market continues its upward trend, Impinj has developed a new chip intended to make such tags more sensitive than those employing other chip models, with a longer read range and three new features that promise to increase the yield of properly functioning tags during manufacturing and encoding processes.

The Monza R6 tag chip, says Nikhil Deulkar, Impinj's Monza product marketing director, is designed to drive high-volume applications in retail stores and supply chains. The new chip can be encoded at a rate of 32 bits per 1.6 milliseconds (32 bits is the most common length of data chunks used when encoding with the EPC Gen 2 Blockwrite command). When used in conjunction with Impinj's Source Tagging Platform, he says, the R6 supports the encoding of 9,500 tags per minute. The chip also accomplishes a 25 percent longer read range than existing RFID chips. This, the company claims, will improve the accuracy of inventory tracking, by ensuring that every tag is read through the supply chain or during inventory audits.

The Monza R6 chip comes with two wide copper pads (instead of the four pads commonly found on most other RFID ICs) to make antenna attachment easier and cheaper.
In addition to these improvements, Deulkar says, the chip also employs three functions that will benefit tag users, service bureaus and tag manufacturers. AutoTune technology allows a tag to tune its antenna automatically, according to its environment. The Integra technology suite of diagnostic tools enables encoders and users to identify a chip experiencing functionality problems that could lead to future inoperability. And Enduro technology consists of a different method for attaching a chip to an antenna that reduces the risk or errors, decreases pressure during the adhesive-curing process, and lowers the volume of adhesive material required to affix the chip to the antenna.

According to Deulkar, the chip's AutoTune functionality is intended to improve inlay responsiveness to reader interrogation, by retuning tag antennas to compensate for various conditions. For example, he says, a company may use an inlay that operates well on a pair of jeans, but that might not work at all on a product with a different stock-keeping unit (SKU), such as a handbag. Rather than possibly requiring a different tag for that specific SKU, the chip itself is designed to detect a change conditions and automatically retune the antenna every time a reader powers it.

AutoTune also enables a small inlay using the Monza R6 chip to operate within a wider bandwidth than existing similar-size tags. "Up until now, you could design a small tag for jewelry, for example," Deulkar states, but it would have a narrow bandwidth that might work well in North America, for instance, but not in Europe, where a different bandwidth is used.

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