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Raflatac Releases RFID Tags With Built-In EAS
Optimized for retail applications, the EPC Gen 2 tags are designed to be read equally well from all directions—even on densely stacked garments—and have an electronic article surveillance function that can be switched on and off.
However, Lutz adds, there are still some physical challenges in using the EAS function with an EPC Gen 2 reader. Because of the tags' greater read range, there is the potential of capturing EAS reads from products in the store located near the reader, inadvertently setting off the alarm. While high-frequency (HF) RFID tags frequently use EAS functions—in libraries, for instance—the read range is usually a matter of only 1 to 2 meters. With UHF, he notes, the read range is considerably more, "so specific measures need to be taken to constrain the read area."
EPCglobal's EAS Joint Requirements Group, which includes NXP and Checkpoint Systems, is working to define the requirements of EAS systems in retail using EPC technology, including ways to restrain an RF field.
Strömberg says there are several end users in the apparel industry intending to utilize the UPM Raflatac tags, but he declines to release their names. Other tag manufacturers have developed a hybrid system incorporating an RFID inlay and EAS inlay in one tag. These include Checkpoint, which released the Evolve tag in spring 2007 (see Checkpoint Combines EAS Tags With RFID), though the EAS function on that model can not be reactivated once it is turned off.
"We expect that the first high-volume applications will be found from apparel and footwear, electronics and media [including book retail] end users," Strömberg says.
"The use of additional user memory is normally based on added-value applications that come on top of the normal supply chain use of RFID," Strömberg states. Such added value might include adding an expiration date to the tag (in the case of fresh produce), or details regarding size and color (in the case of clothing). According to Lutz, there are already requests for that added memory from a variety of users, including electronics companies and airlines. In the case of airlines, companies use RFID tags on baggage and seek to encode details about the luggage's origins and destination directly onto the tag.
The new tags are priced around 10 cents, Strömberg says, though the cost varies from below that amount to above it, depending on the product, delivery format and volume. "The products with extra user memory are a little bit more expensive than the products with the EPC-only memory," he adds.
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