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Redpine Signals Intros Dual-Frequency Wi-Fi RFID Tag

The company's WiseMote tag can transmit data at 5 GHz, which is less commonly used and thus a less crowded channel than the traditional 2.4 GHz band.
Apr 17, 2012
Apr. 17, 2012—San Jose wireless systems company Redpine Signals has developed what it says is the first dual-band real-time location system (RTLS) tag that can transmit at the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz ISM bands over a Wi-Fi network. The tag receives a transmission from an exciter, known as a WM0 Configurator, and then transmits its own identifier, along with that of the configurator, to the nearest Wi-Fi node. The company's dual-band WM1-50 tag can transmit not only at 2.4 GHz, but also at 5 GHz, complying with the IEEE 802.11a Wi-Fi standard. Redpine Signals also offers the WiseMote WM1-20 tag, which transmits only at 2.4 GHz. Both tags are commercially available now.

The WiseMote WM1-50 tag is designed to address the crowding of data that can occur at the 2.4 GHz channel. Most wireless local area networks (WLANs) currently operate at 2.4 GHz, as specified by the 802.11b/g/n standards. Typically, Wi-Fi tags are dormant for certain lengths of time, in order to spare battery life, and then send transmissions at specified intervals. Due to the crowding of the 2.4 GHz band, tags must, at times, continually resend those transmissions until they are successfully received, thereby shortening a tag's battery life. With a 5 GHz transmission, there is usually little traffic from other devices attempting to send signals via a Wi-Fi connection. This, according to Redpine, enables a higher quality of service for throughput- or latency-sensitive applications (see Migrating to the 5 GHz Wi-Fi Band Will Advance RTLS and M2M Communications).

A WiseMote WMI-20 tag (left) and WMO Configurator

Whether transmitting at 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz, the WiseMote WM1-50 tag is first activated via a 125 kHz signal from the configurator. Alternately, the tag can be programmed either at the factory or by a user (via the configurator) to beacon at specific intervals. It then transmits that configurator's ID number, as well as its own unique identifier, to a Wi-Fi node. By using the configurator, a user can program the tag for beaconing rates, in addition to awakening it at such locations as a doorway or other portal.

The WiseMote WM1-50 tag can use the Cisco Compatible Extensions (CCX) mode to transmit data to Cisco Systems Wi-Fi nodes, as well as to other Wi-Fi network-access devices. The tag also comes with a programmable alarm button that a tag user can press in order to issue an alert along with its transmissions, as well as two LED lights—one to indicate battery function, and the other to signify that the tag is in an active state—a battery with a lifespan of more than five years (if beaconing every three minutes), and a motion detector that the tag can use to transmit movement-related data, if so programmed.

The WiseMote WM1-20 (2.4 GHz) and WM1-50 (dual 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) 802.11n Wi-Fi RTLS tags work with any third-party standards-based Wi-Fi hardware and software RTLS infrastructure, says Venkat Mattela. Redpine Signals' CEO.

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