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New On-Metal UHF Tag Measures Just 5 Millimeters in Length

Aerospace and health-care solution providers are testing Kyocera's ceramic tags on tools to track their movement during surgical procedures or assembly processes.
By Claire Swedberg

The tag also comes in three other sizes, ranging from 6 millimeters by 3 millimeters by 1.7 millimeters (0.2 inch by 0.1 inch by 0.07 inch) up to 15 millimeters by 5 millimeters by 1.7 millimeters (0.6 inch by 0.2 inch by 0.07 inch). An Impinj Monza R6p chip is built into the tag. The package comes with a cavity designed specifically for an IC, to ensure protection against mechanical stress and impact, while also enabling the small size and profile. The tag is offered in UHF 920 MHz in North America and 866 MHz in Europe.

Other companies also offer tags for similar use cases. For example, Murata makes a tag measuring 6 millimeter by 2 millimeters by 2.3 millimeters (see Murata Developing Small On-Metal Tag for Surgical or Industrial Tool Tracking).

Adam Schubring
Kyocera's ceramic tag has a uniquely long read range for its size, says Adam Schubring, Kyocera's senior manager for new business development for North America, and the ceramic package is designed to maximize read range in proximity to metal—on metal, he says, it can be read at a distance of approximately 40 centimeters (15.7 inches). For many use cases, that range could be more than is required, and could be reduced as necessary. For instance, surgical tool manufacturers have suggested that in some scenarios, 20 centimeters (7.9 inches) is sufficient.

Kyocera's customers now trialing the new tags are solution providers that are developing systems for their customers. Thus far, users have been testing the tags in several ways. Tags are being attached to surgical tools for tracking by health-care providers, and to tools used in aerospace and other manufacturing applications. The tags can also be used for tool tracking in the oil and gas or energy industries, as well as construction and automotive.

In addition, smart cabinet solution providers are testing the tag for managing tools that are small enough to be stored on shelves. In this case, RFID readers and antennas can be built into the cabinets, and tools tagged with the new ceramic mini-tag can be placed on shelves within the cabinets. If an individual needs a tool, he or she can present credentials in the form of an ID card containing HID or RFID technology, or else enter an ID number. After he or she removes the required tools, the cabinet identifies what has been taken and by whom.

The companies testing the tags have asked not to be named. Kyocera is also in conversations with companies in multiple industries about employing the tags, Schubring reports, including medical, aerospace, automotive, and oil and gas.

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