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New Passive Sensor Tag Operates With Standard Readers

Asygn's AS321X UHF RFID tag consists of the company's own IC and sensors, with an instrumentation amplifier and an acquisition interface, to enable the sensors to seamlessly measure and forward data with the power of the RFID tag interrogation.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 04, 2019

Several companies are trialing sample versions of a passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID sensor tag designed to enable users to capture data such as temperatures, strain or weight, using a standard, off-the-shelf UHF RFID reader. Integrated circuit (IC) design company Asygn (pronounced "assign") released samples of its AS321X chip this month. The chip is expected to be made commercially available by the second half of this year, and Asygn says users will initially be centered in the automotive, industrial Internet of Things (IoT), aeronautics and logistics industries.

This is Asygn's first RFID chip. The company was launched a decade ago to provide design services for ICs specific to sensors, sensor interfaces and RF technology. In recent years, says Nicolas Delorme, Asygn's CTO, some of the firm's customers have been seeking a wireless alternative to the sensors they used to monitor conditions within their facilities. According to Delorme, these companies wanted wireless sensors that would be able to operate not only without a power connection, but without a battery.

Asygn's AS321X UHF RFID tag
Although companies sell other sensor-based UHF RFID tags, Delorme says, Asygn's customers have reported that they were unsatisfied with the read range or sensor performance provided. These RFID-based sensors also required specialized readers or firmware to manage the sensor data, the company found. Asygn has spent the past two years developing its own solution. "Our main focus the is design of ICs for sensors and RF activations," he states.

The company describes the AS321X tag as a fully passive UHF RFID sensor chip, with a temperature sensor integrated on the silicon, as well as an ultra-low-power analog sensor interface that includes an instrumentation amplifier that acts as a connector to the RFID chip, enabling the seamless capture of sensor data at the time the tag is interrogated. Asygn plans to embed other internal sensors into the RFID chips as well, to measure strain, acceleration, hall effect (for magnetic fields), ambient light and contact, according to Lionel Geynet, the company's RFID and RF project manager.

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