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Chip-size Passive RFID Tag Promises Long Range
Tagent's ultra-wideband (UWB) RFID system will be piloted in a medical laboratory, where it will track the locations of blood specimens in real time.
The RTLS granularity is necessary in many large blood labs, Zawolkow says, where thousands of blood samples are processed daily. Many have extremely large refrigeration units, as well as large tabletop areas on which the samples are processed, and locating a specific tube in such an environment can thus be time-consuming. Approximately 1,000 labs in the United States process 4,000 samples or more each day in a 10,000-square-foot area, Zawolkow says, and the lab in which the pilot will take place processes closer to 6,000 samples. A typical deployment in a lab of this size, he notes, would require 350 power nodes and roughly 10 readers.
Tagent has been working on this product for about four years, Zawolkow says, in order to reduce the price and size of the tag. Currently, he adds, the company hopes to list the tag for approximately 30 cents apiece, with power nodes costing about $50, and readers between $1,500 and $2,000.
According to Zawolkow, the system can also be used for tracking manufactured goods through a factory. What's more, he indicates, it may be tested in the near future by an unnamed semiconductor manufacturer. The tag would be embedded in semiconductor tag packaging, and when the semiconductors are tested for performance, and sorted according to that performance, the RFID tag could help the company's staff link multiple semiconductors of the same performance level together in a single bin.
Power nodes can be battery-powered, Zawolkow says, but will more frequently be plugged into an AC power outlet.
Research and development company Martec Corp. is also developing a passive UWB tag, known as Passpulse (see R&D Firm Developing Passive Ultra-Wideband RFID). Like the Tagent tag, the Passpulse tag is designed to be powered entirely by incoming radio frequency signals; in this case, however, the power comes directly from the interrogator. The launch date for Passpulse was initially scheduled for late 2009. A spokesperson for Martec indicates he can not confirm that launch date, but says the development is continuing.
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