Back in 2003, Japanese semiconductor firm Hitachi unveiled a prototype for the next generation of its µ-Chip (pronounced mu-chip). The chip was just 0.3 millimeter (0.012 inch) square—roughly half the size of the smallest RFID chip on the market at the time (see Hitachi Unveils Smallest RFID Chip). The chip has a built-in antenna, so it is a fully functioning tag, though the read range is very short.
The same year, French RFID systems provider Tagsys introduced a 13.56 MHz RFID tag designed for the pharmaceutical, medical and cosmetic industries. It was no bigger than a contact lens (see Tagsys Demos Smallest EPC Tag).
Those are the smallest tags of which I am aware. Other companies that have developed item-level tags for pharmaceutical bottles and other applications include Alien Technology, Avery Dennison, Impinj, NXP and UPM Raflatac, but I don’t believe any of their products are as small as 1 centimeter (0.4 inch) square. Alien’s ALN-9629 Square Inlay, for instance, measures 2.25 centimeters (0.9 inch) square, while Avery Dennison’s AD-815 is 2 centimeters by 1 (0.4 inch) centimeter.
—Mark Roberti, Editor, RFID Journal
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