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Passive RFID Temperature-Sensing Kit Allows Testing

Metalcraft's Temperature Sensor Kit enables systems integrators or their customers to test UHF RFID-based temperature-sensing systems for specific use cases, without large investments in software or integration.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 30, 2019

While temperature-sensing, passive RFID-based solutions have been available for several years, adoption is often limited or delayed due to the cost of piloting the technology. Many companies have a unique use case for temperature-sensing tags, but they lack readers and software in place to test their theories. Metalcraft has released what it hopes will be a solution for manufacturers, cold-chain suppliers and emergency medical providers, in the form of a test kit that puts a passive UHF RFID temperature-sensing system in the hands of such firms so that they can begin experimenting.

Metalcraft's Temperature Sensor Kit, designed as a low-cost passive RIFD sensing solution for systems integrators and end users, enables companies to deploy disposable UHF RFID sensing labels that transmit temperature data when interrogated. The kit consists of a Zebra Technologies RFD8500 handheld sled reader with a USB charging cable, 25 Metalcraft UHF RFID temperature sensor tags and the company's ReadySense mobile temperature app that works with iOS- or Android-based devices. The kit was released in conjunction with this year's RFID Journal LIVE! conference, held this month in Phoenix, Ariz. Contacts made at the event have led to sales of the kits to end users, as well as potentially to systems integrators.

Metalcraft's Temperature Sensor Kit
The solution is designed to prove whether or not UHF RFID technology can be deployed in whatever specific use case a company is considering, after which that company can acquire a full solution that could include fixed and handheld readers, as well as cloud-based software and an app. The kit is not designed to provide on-metal tracking or monitor the skin temperature of a patient in a health-care environment.

ReadySense temperature sensor tags are passive devices that can detect and monitor temperature levels, whether on plastic, wood or other non-metal surfaces. A EM Microelectronic 4325 chip built into the tag detects any changes in voltage across a diode, then transmits that event to the reader when interrogated, enabling the app to calculate temperature changes. With a handheld reader, the ReadySense tags have a read range of approximately 15 to 22 feet, says Austin Elling, Metalcraft's marketing director.

The latest version of the label can also accommodate batteries for use with battery-assisted tags that could enable data-logging (collecting temperatures periodically and storing that data until a tag is read), while also enabling a longer read range. However, the kit includes the passive labels only. After buying the kit—at a price of $2,495 with unlimited, lifetime use of the app—a user can simply download the app on his or her phone and attach that phone to the RFD8500 sled reader. The tags come with a pressure-sensitive adhesive so they can be attached to cartons of fresh produce or other goods, allowing users to begin reading tags and taking temperature readings.

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