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RFID Designed for End Users

Against all odds, 2009 was a good year for technology development.
By Mark Roberti
Feb 01, 2010—When the global recession hit, many RFID vendors cut their technology budgets, but others clearly kept their product development plans on track. In general, RFID providers introduced new products that offer improved performance, are easier and less expensive to deploy, or address specific end user needs. Here are some products that showcase 2009's RFID innovations.

Motorola's FX4700 fixed reader is smaller, more elegant, easier to deploy and less expensive than its predecessor, the XR450 reader. Motorola also introduced the MC3090-Z handheld reader. The device—weighing just 22.93 ounces (650 grams), including the battery—is significantly lighter than the company's other handhelds, and it features a new antenna design optimized to read RFID tags within a 3- to 9-foot area. Both readers are designed for nonindustrial uses, such as tracking products in retail shops, assets in IT or health-care centers, or documents within an office environment.

Impinj's UHF EPC Gen 2 interrogator, marketed as the Speedway Revolution, automatically configures itself to adjust to external conditions, such as changes in RFID tag density or the nearby presence of metallic objects. The company says the autopilot function allows Speedway users to install the reader more easily (since it doesn't require manual configuration) and operate the device without a fluctuation in effectiveness caused by environmental factors that can negatively affect some readers. Impinj also introduced a new version of its reader chip, which it says improves performance for challenging applications, such as reading many tags in close proximity on apparel items.

ODIN Technologies' SMART Container system won RFID Journal's Best in Show Award for the best new product at RFID Journal LIVE! 2009. The system, which can be deployed in minutes, can read EPC Gen 2 tags as items are put into a shipping container—and then continuously track them and communicate the data via satellite, cellular and active RFID, providing organizations with end-to-end visibility of their shipments.

Alliance, the merchandising and displays division of Rock-Tenn Co., partnered with Seeonic and UPM Raflatac to introduce an RFID-enabled system that lets retailers and producers track not only new promotional displays but also the individual items featured on those displays. According to Seeonic, the system could also be used in conjunction with a theft-deterrence system.

M/A-COM Technology Solutions' RFID Forklift System includes laser and acoustic sensors designed to improve tag-read and accuracy rates. M/A-COM's initial estimates indicate that a company using its EPC Gen 2 RFID solution would likely increase the throughput of moving pallets in and out by 10 percent to 20 percent, with the extra benefit of increased accuracy. The system can be added to new forklifts or retrofitted to existing ones.
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