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Small RFID Tag from SML Group Offers 30 Percent Sensitivity Boost

The GB4U8 inlay leverages NXP's UCODE 8 chip and antenna design to accomplish what SML calls an increase in performance over other tags in its 42- by 16-millimeter size.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 11, 2018

Branding, technology and solutions company SML Group has released a small new ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID inlay that, according to the company, offers 30 percent greater performance than other tags of its size. The high-performance tag is intended to make the RFID tagging of apparel easier by requiring less space on hang tickets, or it can be sewn into care labels. According to the company, it supports the tagging of very small items, or with discrete labels, within dense environments.

The GB4U8 inlay measures 42 millimeters by 16 millimeters (1.7 inches by 0.6 inch). It leverages NXP Semiconductors' UCODE 8 chip, along with SML's own antenna design, to accomplish high read sensitivity and improved read rates (see NXP to Release More Sensitive UHF Chip With New Functionality).

SML's GB4U8 tag
The tag has undergone benchmark testing at the Auburn University RFID Test Lab, says Dean Frew, SML's CTO and senior VP of RFID solutions, as well as in-house testing at SML's two U.S.-based simulated store labs. The firm is providing sampling to customers now, he adds, and is expected to make the tags available in large volumes early this year.

SML Group's new tag is one of the first inlays to incorporate the UCODE 8 chip, the company reports, and the first in such a small form factor. A small and sensitive RFID tag, Frew says, solves several problems that have dogged brands and retailers when it comes to RFID deployments.

While retailers have been incorporating EPC UHF RFID tags into products for visibility purposes, Frew says, "customers are driving for smaller- and smaller-sized inlays, but those have come with compromised performance." Numerous product categories are creating the need for smaller, high-performance tags.

That means tags are more difficult to read with 100 percent accuracy within dense environments, such as a crowded store or warehouse, Frew explains, or that they can be slow to read or have a shorter read range. That is insufficient in some cases, he adds—for instance, when stores send employees through a densely packed room to read tags using a handheld reader. "Usually," he states, "small-footprint tags have a problem on densely packed apparel."

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