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Tags, Readers Compliant With the ISO 18000-3M3 Standard Expected Soon

With the new standard, RFID interrogators will be able to read a greater quantity of high-frequency passive tags simultaneously, and much more quickly, compared with most HF systems currently available.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 27, 2012RFID vendors are developing tags and readers that will operate with the ISO 18000-3 Mode 3 (3M3) standard and the EPC HF RFID Air Interface Standard v. 2.0.3, enabling users to interrogate high-frequency (HF) tags employing GS1's EPCglobal standard, thereby providing compatibility between ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) and HF EPCglobal-compliant systems. More than a year after the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approved its 18000-3 Mode 3 standard, and approximately five months after GS1 ratified a comparable standard (see GS1 Ratifies EPC HF Standard, Aerospace Tag-Data Amendment), only one 3M3-compatible reader is commercially available at this time. However, a handful of unnamed end users are currently testing prototypes of RFID readers and tags that work with the standard, primarily in the gaming industry, as well as for document tracking and item-level logistics—all areas in which tags will be densely contained.

OptRFID, a division of Optys Corp., is the first to come out with a 3M3-compliant RFID reader. Its offering, known as OptRFID ILT, was released in December 2011, though 3M3-compliant passive HF tags are still not commercially available in large quantities. UPM RFID and Identive are developing inlays that will operate with NXP Semiconductors' Icode ILT integrated circuit (the first 3M3-compatible RFID tag chip), NXP reports, while Identive is developing its own 3M3 readers, as are Frosch Electronics and Feig Electronic.

The OptRFiD ILT has an internal antenna, and is powered by and communicates through a USB cable.

Optys' existing reader is low-powered, while the firm is working to create a high-powered version that is expected to be made available next month. The higher-powered version, says David Rutherford, Optys' business development and sales manager, will be able to read more tags, and faster—at a rate of up to 200 tags per second, he says, as opposed to several dozen tags per second, which the lower-powered version is capable of reading.

HF technology is commonly used in applications in which tags are read in the near-field range, such as the dispensing of beverages into a prepaid RFID-tagged container, the tagging of poker chips stacked in high density on a table above an RFID reader, or the use of tags on medical or court documents stored in high density that do not require a long read range. By utilizing the new standard, RFID interrogators can read many more tags simultaneously, and much more quickly, compared with most currently available passive HF tags (that is, those complying with the ISO 15693 or ISO 14443 standard).

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