Radar reader spots RFID tag location at a distance

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Rfid

A South African company claims it has invented a scanner that can
read multiple radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and pick
them out from a crowd, allowing users to accurately locateobjects
among multiple targets.

Trolley Scan, says its new RFID-radar based readers is able to read tens of tags at a distance, allowing food manufacturers to use cheaper equipment and at the same time speeding up the rate ofprocessing.

The discovery will help food processors to speed up the supply chain process, cut down on errors and find and track products in a warehouse quickly. The new RFID reader is part of the spurt of newequipment and processes helping to boost the takeup of RFID in the workplace.

RFID has long been touted as the future of logistics for all companies by allowing retailers and suppliers to track goods throughout the supply chain. However high prices for tags and systems hasheld enthusiasm at bay. Privacy concerns have also limited its use at the consumer level.

RFID readers are generally limited to identifying single tags that had to be placed correctly in a zone that could be picked up by the instrument. The reader usually had to be placed close to theRFID tag. For farther distances more sophisticated and expensive tags are needed.

Mike Marsh, Trolley Scan's managing director, believes the new reader will expand the range of applications for which RFID can be used. He suggests the reader could now be used to locate goods in awarehouse, track individual animals in a herd and monitor the movement of assets through a plant.

"The breakthrough with RFID-radar is the ability to measure the distance travelled by a signal from a transponder to a reader accurately, over long distances, using minimal radio spectrumto minimise effects on other users, and with very low cost transponders and readers,"​ he stated. "This measurement allows us to identify, locate accurately and track the movement oftens of transponders in front of a reader at the same time."

In older generation RFID systems, operating ranges were a few centimeters, so location information was not important as the transponder was always close to the reader. Current readers have increased the operating range to tens of metres and will soon reach the one hundred meter range mark with passive tags, Marsh stated.

"Here location information together with the identity information becomes essential as so many transponders can be located in such a large area,"​ he stated.

The company's technique allows processors to measure the range of a transponder to an accuracy of 0,5 metres with a pointing direction of just one degree, for transponders as far away as 100metres, with up to 100 transponders in the zone at a time.

"This development is revolutionary, in that instead of needing expensive transponders and readers, our development allows this technique to be applied to the "five cent"transponder and the "$100" reader,"​ Marsh stated. "We make the measurements from a single reader site, making the equipment suitable for use in mobile applications such aswhen the reader is fitted to a forklift truck."

RFID systems are made up of a transponder or tag that is attached to the goods to be identified and a reader that converts the information in those transponders to a computer compatible format for processing.

Related topics Processing & packaging

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