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Trimble intros handheld UHF reader for tracking railcars, cargo ••• Xplorer tag from InfoChip and Xerafy approved for drill pipes ••• Pantry's RFID-enabled food kiosks use Keonn UHF antennas ••• Ams' AS3993 IC powers TSL's 1153 Bluetooth wearable UHF RFID reader.
By Beth Bacheldor

Ams' AS3993 IC Powers TSL's 1153 Bluetooth Wearable UHF RFID Reader

Ams AG, a provider of sensors and analog ICs, has announced that the 1153, a rugged, wearable RFID scanner made by U.K.-based Technology Solutions UK Ltd. (TSL), is using its low-power AS3993 reader IC.

The 1153 Bluetooth Wearable UHF RFID Reader, which TSL released last year (see RFID News Roundup: Technology Solutions Intros Wearable, Bluetooth-enabled RFID Reader), is designed to be worn on a user's hand so he or she can remain mobile. The device, which measures 10.2 centimeters by 5.5 centimeters by 5.6 centimeters (4 inches by 2.2 inches by 2.2 inches) and weighs 157 grams (5.5 ounces), comes with a palm strap so it can easily be worn on the back of the user's hand. It also has an anchor point for attachment to a tablet computer. The reader supports the EPC Gen 2 and ISO 8000-6C RFID standards, the company reports, and can communicate via Bluetooth wireless technology with a variety of host devices, including enterprise handhelds, consumer phones, touchscreen MP3 players, tablets and PCs.

TSL's 1153 UHF reader
According to ams, the development team of the 1153 faced design challenges regarding performance, size and power consumption, and ams' AS3993 was an ideal choice. First unveiled in 2012 (see RFID News Roundup: Austriamicrosystems Unveils New Reader Chips for Embedded and Consumer Applications), the IC is housed in a compact 7-millimeter by 7-millimeter (0.3-inch by 0.3-inch) QFN48 package, operates from a supply voltage as low as 2.7 volts, and is compatible with the 1,130mAh lithium-polymer battery in the 1153 reader. In normal mode, the AS3993 draws an operating current of 65mA.

The designers at TSL also benefited from the high level of integration in the AS3993, according to ams, as they worked to accommodate a complete RFID reader in a wearable form factor. Combining an RF front end with RFID protocol-handling circuitry, the AS3993 implements a complete EPC Gen 2 RFID system with only the addition of a simple external 8-bit microcontroller.

In the 1153, the AS3993 reads from and writes to ISO 18000-6C UHF transponders. The chip also includes support for ISO18000-6A/B in transparent mode, ams says. Featuring selectable receive sensitivity of up to -90dBm, and integrating a power amplifier with a transmit (output) power of 20dBm, the AS3993 gives the 1153 a very large link budget for robust performance, the firm reports, even in challenging operating conditions. The 1153 is specified with a nominal read range of up to 2 meters (6.6 feet) and a write range of up to 1 meter (3.3 feet), ams adds.

"We chose the AS3993 because it provided the best possible combination of reader performance with low power consumption for an ultra-compact, wearable UHF RFID reader," said David Evans, TSL's managing director, in a prepared statement. "Our requirement for efficient read performance with very low power consumption made it obvious that we should choose the ams AS3993."

The 1153 RFID reader is available in versions for Europe, North America and Australia, and comes with or without a 2D bar-code imager. The AS3993 is available in production volume, with unit pricing at $35 in order quantities of 1,000.

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