New technology powers big RFID order book
Jun 27, 2008 Dr Peter Harrop
One million transistors is not enough for the RFID chip in the new e-passports because, increasingly, they have to double as driver's licenses, multipurpose cards and other media. That is behind large new RFID orders such as the $84 million that has recently been committed to the Queensland driving license in Australia. The $885,000 contract recently landed by Destron Fearing for more salmon tracking readers in the rivers of Oregon adds to the $20 million of orders it recently landed for such readers. This illustrates the sheer variety of technologies and the rapid change in the subject.
Take UHF. Many applications are gravitating to this frequency or HF because they give better price and better performance. IDTechEx has recently published a report on "HF - The Great Leap Forward" detailing the huge advances in cost and performance from a number of breakthroughs in HF RFID technology and the new markets that this is generating. However, there is an equally great leap forward in UHF technology, one example being affordable tags that work on metal and also tolerate nearby metal and water.
Huge new market for on-metal UHF
About one percent of UHF tags will be of the "on-metal" type and depending on price, it could be much more as system integrators seek to avoid the hassle of fitting one of two types depending on the surface encountered. On-metal UHF tags have usually consisted of bulky offset layers between tag and metal or thinner ones that are several dollars more expensive but use magnetic effects to do the job. Now Omni-ID has bisected the cost gap with a capacitive concentrator layer that also gives a much smaller footprint due to advances in antenna design. That could open up a market of one billion tags yearly for equipment in computer, telecoms data centers, aerospace, oil and the gas industry and so on.
Omni ID will be demonstrating this technology on its stand at the IDTechEx "RFID Europe" conference in Cambridge UK September 30- October 1 2008. Confidex of Finland, with an on-metal UHF tag of its own, is speaking at the conference. It has been very successful in e-tickets as well. Cambridge Resonant Technologies will give the latest on its remarkable breakthrough in performance of HF RFID.
The University of Cambridge will explain "The Intelligent Airport" TINA project providing a self organising airport based on state of the art RFID. Given the enormous interest in RFID in the air industry, there will be a presentation by Marshall Aerospace and a visit to their facility at Cambridge Airport. AeroScout of the USA will explain why it has a full orderbook for its Real Time Locating Systems RTLS that leverage existing WiFi networks and new chip design. The new holistic approach to RFID will also be evident in the talk on the "virtual medical device library" by the Royal Alexandra Hospital UK.
New antenna advances
Another visit will be to local company Conductive Inkjet Technology which has developed a new antenna technology as has Kurz of Germany who will be presenting. Kurz also develops printed RFID through its majority owned Poly IC joint venture and it has other futuristic capabilities.
James Stafford, who orchestrated the world's largest RFID scheme for apparel while at Marks & Spencer, will describe the huge advances at Avery Dennison of the USA, where he is now Head of RFID Adoption. Avery Dennison recently bought RFID labeller Paxar. Indeed RFID in apparel will be a major theme this year as stitched RFID labels start to catch on, following the widespread adoption of swing tags in the fashion industry and button tags in rented garments and laundry. Global market leader Datamars of Switzerland will be presenting at the conference and St Olaf's Hospital of Norway will be reporting its success in creating an RFID enabled laundry.
Wider adoption for apparel for new purposes
GCS Consulting of Germany will give the latest on the "RFID Fashion Group" consortium it manages that is progressing RFID even into anti-counterfeiting with new types of tag stitched into apparel. Participants will include the top fashion brands such as H&M, Gardeur, Bultel, Otto Versand and Gerry Weber plus leading retailers such as Karstadt and Kaufhof. Indeed, there are over 60 leading apparel retailers, renters and manufacturers in 18 countries involved in apparel RFID today, with over 50 RFID suppliers in support. IDTechEx has nearly completed research on all of these. It will be analysed in its new report "RFID in Apparel 2008-2018" that will be ready for the conference. Dr Peter Harrop of IDTechEx will share the results of this work in his introduction to the "RFID in Apparel and More" stream. The University of Manchester will describe how it can now incorporate RFID into fibres. Many of these advances will result in substantial orders in the not too distant future.
For more information attend Europe's largest event on RFID: RFID Europe on Sept 31 to Oct 1 www.IDTechEx.com/RFIDeurope.