Psion, Lab ID Unveil RFID Handheld

By Bob Violino

A new wireless netpad will be able to scan bar codes and read from and write to 13.56 MHz tags.


April 16, 2003 – Psion Teklogix, a Canadian company that makes rugged mobile computing devices, has teamed up with Lab-ID, an Italian startup, to produce a handheld RFID and bar code reader for supply chain management in the retail industry.

The new RFID-enabled netpad incorporates Lab-ID’s reader module and antenna. The module can be plugged into any existing netpad device (see photo) to enable workers to scan 13.56 MHz RFID tags based on the ISO 15693 standard, in addition to bar codes.

Netpad gets an RFID reader

“We wanted to work with Psion Teklogix because it’s a solid company that can move quickly,” says Marco Astorri, Lab-ID’s executive VP. “And the netpad is a very solid product with a good design that makes it practical for any type of store or for use by logistics workers in the supply chain.”

Lab-ID spent more than 15 months developing the reader and antennas, as well as RFID tags. It worked with Psion to create a prototype RFID-enabled netpad last year. Manufacturing is set to begin soon in Canada, and the companies say the product will be on the market in time for this year’s autumn fashion season. Pricing has not be set.

The typical handheld RFID reader can scan passive tags from about 10 cm (4 inches). Astorri says Lab-ID’s integrated antenna has an increased range of 20 cm (8 inches), which allows bulk-scanning of items in warehouses, stores, on shelves, which leads to increased productivity and accuracy. An external antenna can be added to extend the read range even further.

Lab-ID’s Mauro Benetton (left) and Psion president Norbert Dawalibi

The partnership gives Lab ID access to Psion’s large customer base, which could help promote the rapid adoption of RFID. Psion is able to add new functionality to a popular handheld device. Companies using the new netpad will be able to introduce RFID tags alongside bar codes in their supply chain.

The new netpad has a large 1⁄2 VGA color screen. It can run either the Symbian OS or WinCE.NET. It’s operated by touching buttons on the screen. Users have a choice of wireless communications. The netpad can connect to a wireless LAN using the 802.11 standard, or to a wide area network using GSM technology.

RFID Journal Home