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ODIN Technologies Unveils End-to-End EPC Gen 2 Tracking for Supply Chains
The new solution combines passive and active RFID, as well as satellite and cellular technologies, to track individual items packed in shipping containers as they traverse a supply chain.
Apr 28, 2009—ODIN Technologies has announced a system that can continuously track item-level EPC Gen 2 tags within a shipping container, then communicate that data via satellite, cellular and active RFID, in order to provide organizations with end-to-end visibility of their shipments.
"Everybody talks about visibility end-to-end," says Patrick Sweeney, ODIN Technologies' CEO and president, "but there's still this huge gap that exists—the point when a shipment leaves, to the point of its arrival." The cause, he adds, has been the lack of a means to collect item-level tag reads and regularly share that information while shipments are en route.
The system, known as the SMART Container, includes a control unit (comparable in size to an average suitcase) that includes four lithium batteries, power management, sensor controls, an integrated computer, GPS and an external communications array (Iridium's low earth orbit satellite technology, cellular, and active RFID). The system also incorporates two of ODIN's new so-called Blackbird Wings, each of which comes with an onboard EPC Gen 2 RFID interrogator, a proprietary antenna array and an "intelligent configurator" that tunes antenna power. Sensors that measure motion, sound and other characteristics can be added to the Smart Container as well. The control unit and wings are all contained in ruggedized enclosures, and the control units' batteries have an average lifespan of approximately one year.
"This is ODIN Technologies' biggest announcement yet," Sweeney states. "We started development three years ago, and spent a lot of resources, money and time developing this."
The Blackbird Wing units are being manufactured by Taiwan-based Microelectronics Technology Inc.. MTI Laboratory, an MTI subsidiary located in San Jose, Calif., helped design the reader.
What's unique about the Blackbird Wing, Sweeney explains, is that it is so thin—3/4 inch thick, 4 inches wide and about 4 feet long—that it can easily fit into a small space, yet still provide the performance found in more bulky and expensive interrogators. The read range provided by two Blackbird Wings inside a container, he says, is approximately 150 meters (492 feet).
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