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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

Users of the AS321X can employ an off-the-shelf UHF RFID reader to transmit its interrogation signal to the tag, and the energy from that signal will power the sensor and the tag's RF response. That means companies already using RFID to track the identities and locations of goods could employ their existing infrastructure to capture sensor data along with the unique ID.

Automotive companies are testing the new ICs for the purpose of condition monitoring, Geynet reports. Measurements of conditions around parts, such as temperature levels, may enable them to detect component failures after the assembly and finishing processes. The tags could also be used with pressure sensors to identify mechanical strain, or to monitor humidity levels in order to detect a leak in an engine, for instance.

Lionel Geynet
Aeronautics companies similarly are using the chips to test the conditions around aircraft parts—not only after assembly at the manufacturing site, but once an aircraft is in operation—for the purpose of monitoring maintenance operations. Since RFID tags are already in place for many aeronautical and airline industry members, the new tags could enable maintenance personnel to undergo the same process of interrogating the tags to identify parts, while collecting data regarding condition and performance.

Another market could be logistics or cold supply chain goods, provided a system were in place to interrogate the passive tags at key points during transit or storage processes. Asygn predicts that its sensor chip will provide value in scenarios for which such technology has previously proven unsuccessful.

"What's special is the on-chip [data] acquisition interface," Delorme says, which enables any transducer to be linked to a chip, with low power consumption. The chip's reading distance, he adds, is high for a sensor device, with a range of a few meters. In fact, he says, it provides the same range that one might achieve using a standard non-sensor-based RFID tag. Data can be captured at a rate of a few milliseconds, Delorme reports.

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