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New Axcess Chip Can Be Active or Operate as Passive Gen 2

The new Enterprise Dot active-passive technology will allow tags to switch to the appropriate protocol for communications, providing greater options for data storage and sensor input.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 25, 2006RFID tracking solutions provider Axcess International is developing a dot-sized UHF RFID chip with built-in digital input-output (IO) and analog-to-digital conversion (ADC) to connect with sensors. The company says the chip will be available in early 2007. The new technology, known as the Enterprise Dot, provides dual active-passive capabilities—as either a passive EPC Gen 2 tag operating at 860 to 960 MHz, or as an active tag operating at 433 MHz. This allows the tag to switch to the appropriate protocol for communications, and also provides greater options for data storage and sensor input.

The first product using the Enterprise Dot technology will be a software-definable, battery-powered Dot-OEM—a tag module containing the Dot chip and options for battery, antenna, memory and external sensors. The Dot-OEM is about the size of a quarter and can be embedded in computers and other products. The tag module will be available with various antenna and battery options for integration into OEM devices, for a cost of about $5 per unit.

Allan Griebenow, Axcess
The Enterprise Dot chip is small enough to fit in identification cards, and will also be targeted for tracking computers and medical equipment, says Allan Griebenow, Axcess' president and CEO. Axcess is calling this the world's lowest-cost and smallest multifunctional wireless submicro device for asset tracking. The chip is customizable by connecting to additional ports for sensors and memory storage for data logging or for product pedigree applications that document the chain of custody of products as they move through distribution channels.

According to Griebenow, Axcess began developing this technology two years ago, in the pursuit of a small chip with which other products can be built. He says the Enterprise Dot's use of dual active-passive technology is designed to solve such reliability problems as poor read rates surrounding passive RFID. Its passive transponder is compatible with the EPC Class 1 Gen 2 standard.

The active RFID side of the Dot uses Axcess' ActiveTags technology, transmitting data up to 100 feet when activated. RFID interrogators used by Enterprise Dot customers can be connected via TCP/IP, RS232, Wiegand or other standard networks, to enterprise system software, existing security alarm equipment and standalone middleware and end-user software such as OnlineSupervisor, Axcess' server-based software solution. OnlineSupervisor utilizes a Microsoft SQL database and offers tracking, alert-notification, status-monitoring and reporting functions.

"Our desire is to have a hybrid solution to take advantage of EPC infrastructure and use active-tag technology," Griebenow says. "Today's marketplace has to be tag-neutral."

To function as an active tag, the device can be awoken by activator points transmitting a 126 kHz signal. When functioning as a passive tag, the Enterprise Dot tag operates the same as any passive EPC Gen 2 tag and does not need to be activated by a low-frequency signal before being read. In passive mode, the tag can be read by any Gen 2-compliant RFID interrogator, regardless of make or model. The tags also work effectively around metals and liquids, Axcess claims.

The Enterprise Dot-OEM module has not yet been piloted by any Axcess customer, and will be commercially available in the first quarter of 2007. The chip will be compliant with EPCglobal standards for Gen 2 systems, and will be submitted for compliance testing once it is released, Griebenow says.
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