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EECC Benchmark Study Finds UHF Tag Performance Better Than Ever

For its 2016 UHF Tag Performance Survey, the European EPC Competence Center tested 361 different models of passive UHF transponders in as many as 22 different ways per tag.
By Claire Swedberg

For the 2016 survey, says Mauricio V. Leon, the EECC's technical manager, the organization opted to include moisture sensor tags in its benchmark tests. At this time, Leon explains, the category consists solely of a single transponder: SMARTRAC's Sensor DogBone inlay using RFMicron's S3 sensor chip. The testing found that it performed as well as many standard labels, while also transmitting data indicating the presence of moisture.

One of the newer performance measurements, which debuted in the 2015 survey, included a test for interference in a scenario in which two readers attempt to read the same tag simultaneously. The measurement simulated that scenario and evaluated the results to determine whether tags were jammed by the process—and, if so, which ones.

The European EPC Competence Center's tag-testing chamber.
The EECC included tags from new and smaller companies, most based in Asia. The tag manufacturers submitted 50 of each make and model of tag for testing, from which the EECC then selected tags at random.

Mauricio V. Leon, the EECC's technical manager
The study found that tags are becoming smaller for on-metal applications—as tiny as 7 millimeters by 2 millimeters by 2 millimeters (0.28 inch by 0.08 inch by 0.08 inch), in the case of a Xerafy tag. Of the metal tags tested, Leon reports, 23 were thin enough to be printed with regular printers. The sensitivity of on-metal tags, he notes, is improving at the same time that tag sizes are, in some cases, shrinking for on-metal applications.

In addition, the EECC found this year that chip diversity is increasing. Many of the chips now offer varying amounts of storage capacity, Leon says, and in some cases, they provide features previously unavailable that improve functionality. For instance, he says, Impinj's Monza R6 chip and RFMicron's Magnus S2 chip enable labels to adapt to the surface on which they are applied, adjusting to the presence of moisture on an item and functioning with the same sensitivity as they would have had that moisture not been present. "This means that the surface will not affect the performance," Leon states.

According to Leon, the EECC was pleased to see an improvement in tag functionality within tag-dense environments this year. For instance, he says, in the past, when tags were stacked together, those at the center of the stack did not always respond to the reader. This proximity effect, he adds, seems improved with the most recently released tags.

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