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EECC Study Expands Structure to Test IoT-based RFID Tags

The European EPC Competence Center's latest annual report addresses the functionality of a widening variety of UHF RFID tags that can come with impedance-based sensors, high memory, greater sensitivity, more security and improved sustainability.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 16, 2019

Throughout the past decade, RFID tags and the applications for which they are used have been diversifying and growing more complex. In response to the expanding number of specialized UHF RFID tag products and the uses cases for them, the European EPC Competence Center (EECC) has released a four-part survey aimed at testing all facets of functionality for tags that can feature high or low memory, as well as sensor functionality; offer higher sensitivity of predecessor tags; and, in the case of one line of products, be recyclable.

The result is a 650-page study containing more than 2,000 diagrams isolating a variety of conditions and performance for 451 different tags. EECC has offered its annual survey for more than a decade. The European association was formed by GS1 Germany, Deutsche Post DHL and Metro Group in 2004 to share UHF RFID technology and EPCIS information.

EECC's Conrad von Bonin
Since launching the survey in 2007, the organization has found that year over year, tags have been gaining sensitivity and functionality, according to Conrad von Bonin, EECC's CEO. The study, in fact, began with just 21 tags being tested using four measurements, and the resulting survey was 36 pages in length. Since then, the group has expanded the survey to include 27 measurements for each of the 451 tags.

For the 2019 survey, the group assimilated all major UHF RFID tags on the market within the 800 to 1,000 MHz frequency range. The measurements were selected based on the requests of potential customers, von Bonin says, as well as trends that EECC sees in the market. The group restructured the survey to include four chapters this year, in order to describe the behavior and functionality of a growing number of Internet of Things (IoT)-based devices and applications.

The first chapter involves orientation and speed for a single tag read, while the second covers measurements related to proximity effect or other ways in which tags may influence each other. The third chapter focuses on sensor functionality and the material interactions effect of RFID read and write performance, and the last examines characteristics related to performance around or as part of an IoT network.

One significant new feature of the survey was the introduction of a recyclable tag from Stora Enso, enabling RFID tags to be applied to single-use carriers, such as non-reusable containers, pallets or cardboard boxes. The group focused on products that include Alien Technology's Higgs 9 chip (see New Chip Offers Greater Memory, Sensitivity at Lower Price), and on how quickly the tags could be interrogated and respond when transmitting data stored in the chip's expanded memory. Such high-memory tags are often being used in the automotive and aviation industries to track maintenance histories.

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