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Small Textile Tag Offers Read Range of 5 Meters or More

The UbiTEX tag, from UBI Solutions, was developed by Fenotag with an Impinj Monza chip to prevent folding, fit unobtrusively on small linens and still provide a long read distance.
By Claire Swedberg
Tags: Apparel
Sep 25, 2017

Two French technology companies have developed a small, high-power, textile UHF RFID tag for use in linens and uniforms, designed to be unobtrusive and unlikely to be folded. UBI Solutions is selling the tag, provided by Fenotag as part of its laundry and hospitality solutions for customers throughout Europe.

The passive UHF UbiTEX 1358 textile tag offers a read range up to 5 meters (16.4 feet), with a small footprint—it measures 13 millimeters by 58 millimeters (0.5 inch by 2.3 inches), is 0.5 millimeter (0.02 inch) in thickness with the exception of the chip area, and is designed to be used in spaces RFID tags previously would not fit. The tags come with a built-in Impinj Monza R6-P chip.

UBI Solutions' UbiTEX 1358 textile tag
When it comes to technology for hospitality and health care, says Renaud Munier, UBI Solutions' business-development director, "The industry is always looking for smaller tags." Most textile-based UHF RFID tags can be sewn into or glued to linens, such as towels and table cloths, but are more difficult to attach to very small items, like some garments, pillow cases and napkins. They are also often visible to those handling the linens due to their size. In addition, Munier says, large tags are often folded when a garment or other linen is washed and folded, which can make the tags difficult to read.

UBI Solutions recently began working with Fenotag to develop a tag that would be small enough to fit on previously untagged items, would be unobtrusive and aesthetically pleasing, and would be unlikely to be folded. Fenotag, Munier says, is not only located in France along with UBI Solutions, but manufactures its products in-house, which makes production more flexible. If a specific material or size is required, the company can accommodate, he says, adding, "We worked with different suppliers, then we decided to partner with Fenotag" to create a smaller tag that can be read well at any orientation and would be unlikely to be folded.

Most textile tag manufacturers sell textile tags measuring 60 to 80 millimeters (2.4 to 3.1 inches), says Didier Elbaz, Fenotag's president. UBI Solutions asked Fenotag to reduce both width and length in order to lower the risk of having a tag folded with linens, thus significantly decreasing reading performance. But the company also wanted better read performance. "They asked me to increase the reading-writing performance even if the size was reduced, which was really a big challenge," Elbaz says. "The target was to have a reading performance higher than 5 meters in the European and U.S. bandwidth [UHF]."

The laundry environment poses unique challenges in terms of performance, since between 400 and 1,000 linens are typically interrogated simultaneously while stacked or thrown into a trolley or cart. Such a high density can result in a tag being detuned, Elbaz says. "With our tag, the Impinj Monza 6RP chip, and the hardware—the system from UBI Solutions—we have been able to achieve the 'holy grail': a reading rate close to 99 to 100 percent and good reliability."

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