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French RTLS Company Joins EU Initiative for Flexible Electronics Innovation

The SmartEE H2020 acceleration program will provide UWINLOC with nine months of research with partners and university researchers, to develop a small, recyclable RTLS tag for its UHF and UWB location-awareness solution.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 11, 2018

Indoor location systems company UWINLOC is one of 20 companies participating in the European Union (EU)'s SmartEEs H2020 initiative to develop new, flexible electronics that can be built into products or processes. The participants will each develop and build what is being called an Application Experiment (AE) to help bring new products to market. SmartEEs, an acceleration program supporting innovation in flexible electronics technologies, is funded by the EU's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.

UWINLOC plans to develop a miniaturized and sustainable version of its technology for location tracking. The company will work with Eurecat, as well as university researchers, to develop a product aimed at addressing new market segments. UWINLOC intends to develop a smaller version of its ultra-wideband (UWB) and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag that is flexible and sustainable, with a printed antenna.

Patrick Chan
The tag's small size and flexibility would enable it to be attached to small items, such as tools or objects with curved surfaces in industrial environments, as well as in health care, logistics or retail. The tag will be designed to be made of recyclable materials, the company reports.

UWINLOC was launched in 2015 to solve a problem at production plants and warehouses that was not being properly addressed by existing RFID and real-time locating system (RTLS) technologies. UHF RFID provides location data to interrogators via a passive tag, but the location of an object or individual cannot be pinpointed specifically. RTLS solutions, on the other hand, required an active tag with a battery.

After one year of development with off-the-shelf products, says Patrick Chan, UWINLOC's product director, the company opted to design its own hardware using passive UHF and UWB technologies, manufactured by a third party according to UWINLOC's specifications. The tags receive interrogation transmissions from UHF RFID emitters, then respond with UWB signals. The UWB interrogators, known as beacons, enable users to identify an item's location in 3D within approximately 12 inches (meaning the system understands how high an object is located, such as one stacked on a shelf), as well as its location within a warehouse.

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