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University of Kansas Lab Develops Foam-Attached Tag

The school's Information & Telecommunication Technology Center says its new passive UHF Agility technology enables the creation of low-cost inlays that provide a long read range and work well near metals and liquids.
By Beth Bacheldor
The Agility technology might make more sense for companies that don't require the ruggedness of tags manufactured using KU-Tag technology, Deavours says. "If the requirements called for a tag that could take a beating and needed to be put on metal, then that asset tag is probably the best choice," he states. "But there are a lot of scenarios where the tag doesn't require the same robustness and ruggedness. Foam is cheap as a material, and [tags based on the Agility technology] are cheaper to manufacture because they can be made in a roll-to-roll process," allowing for volume production.

Adasa, a technology company specializing in advanced mobile RFID systems and RFID tag encoding, tested Agility at its headquarters in Eugene, Ore. According to Clarke McAllister, Adasa's chief technology officer, the test focused on the firm's PAD3500, a mobile tag interrogator, and its ability to encode an Agility tag and apply it efficiently to metal objects. "We would welcome the commercialization of the Agility technology," McAllister says. "The ITTC Agility tag works great."

Kansas City, Mo., RFID solutions provider Starport Technologies has licensed the rights to Agility and has already begun developing a tag based on the technology. Last summer, the company began developing its first two products—the rigid solid-core Adamas and Portunus tags, both based on KU-Tag technology (see Starport Licensing KU-Tag Technology for Challenging Asset-Tracking Apps). Jeff Nedblake, managing partner of Starport Technologies, says the firm opted to license the Agility technology for its longer read distance, and because its thinner form offers greater flexibility and a lower price point than either the Adamas or Portunus.

"The Agility tag or FAT tag offers read ranges up to 25 feet with a base material of 1/8-inch foam," Nedblake says. "Starport's main focus is to manufacture specialty RFID tags that are best in class. Therefore, we chose to license this technology to add this unique tag for customers interested in tags that work on metal and other hard-to-read surfaces."

The Orion, Starport's Agility-based inlay, is a standard EPC Gen 2 tag that contains Alien Technology's Higgs 2 integrated circuit (IC). Samples are expected to be available in the next two weeks. In addition, Starport Technologies also plans to offer custom-design tags using Agility. "We will develop these new tag designs based on market need, or a specific customer requirement," Nedblake says.

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