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N.J. Company Seeks to Market Passive Sensor RFID Tags

RFID Sensor Systems has developed battery-free UHF sensor tags that enable users to measure a patient's heart and breathing rates, or the temperature of a product or shipping container.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 14, 2011New Jersey wireless systems company RFID Sensor Systems has begun meeting with potential partners to market its new passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 RFID tags that include various sensors and can transmit sensor data without the use of a battery. The firm developed the technology to provide end users with small, inexpensive RFID sensor tags that do not require battery replacement. One of the two tags is designed for cardiopulmonary monitoring by health-care organizations, while the other is a temperature-monitoring tag that can be used to track temperatures in real time, as well as maintain a temperature history for logistics and other industries, when transporting such temperature-sensitive products as fresh produce.

RFID Sensor Systems was founded 15 years ago, under the name New Jersey Microsystems, by William Carr, the company's CEO and a professor emeritus of physics and electrical and computer engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). (Carr retired from NJIT in 2008.) Initially, the company—located on NJIT's Economic Development Center's Newark campus—developed micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) sensors including a sub-10-milligram inertial measurement unit (IMU) for the U.S. Navy, as well as an infrared MEMS imager and magnetometer for the U.S. Army. Some of the MEMS sensors operated in conjunction with RFID tags. This year, however, the company is offering RFID sensor tags to the health-care industry and to commercial markets, such as logistics.

The Cardiopulmonary Monitoring System includes a tag that can be attached to a patient via a Velcro chest strap that wraps around the chest.

Both tags will cost approximately 50 percent of the cost of most active RFID sensor tags, Carr says.

The ST100 tag can be sold with an I003 reader from RFID Sensor Systems, either as a stationary or handheld battery-operated device, or be used with an interrogator complying with the UHF EPC Gen 2 or ISO 18000-6C standard. The solution—including the tag and the reader—is known as the S100 Passive RFID Cardiopulmonary Monitoring System. The S100 tag measures 3.25 inches by 4.6 inches, is 0.6 inch thick and stores a 96-bit Electronic Product Code (EPC) number. The tag can be attached to a patient via a Velcro chest strap that wraps around a user's chest, or in another form factor, attached directly to the skin with an adhesive strip, similar to how a Band-aid is attached. The latter form factor is intended for monitoring a person's health over a shorter period of time.

Sensors built into the tag measure a wearer's breathing and heart rates whenever the tag is powered by the transmissions of an EPC Gen 2 reader. The I003 reader can capture the unique ID number and sensor data from the tag at a distance of up to 20 feet. That information could then be sent to a user's back-end system via a cabled USB connection to a PC or laptop. Alternatively, if a user purchased its own UHF Gen 2 reader, it would need to make a software modification to read the sensor data. The I003 reader itself also contains RFID Sensor Systems software, to display the breathing and heart rate data.

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