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News

Multi-standard RFID chip for asset tracking.

Innovision : 29 April, 2008  (New Product)
Development of high functionality RFID chip enables low cost applications in supply chain tracking and access control.
Innovision Research and Technology has combined an 8051 core with complex RFID design to provide the world's most function-rich RFID integrated circuit (IC) engine solution available today for Axcess International.

According to Phil Royston, Project Leader at Innovision: 'Using the unique combination of Innovision's IC design, software engineering and production skills, we have managed to simultaneously increase Axcess' tag functionality and dramatically reduce cost. Our contribution to their Dot development has started a new era for affordable high-specification battery-assisted RFID products.'

Innovision has enhanced an existing single protocol Axcess discrete solution; cost engineered it to a standalone IC and added multi-protocol capability. This IC engine, marketed by Axcess as Dot, features:.

* 8051 processor.
* 24 Kbytes of non-volatile memory.
* 1 Kbyte of RAM.
* Three wireless communication transceivers.
* Innovision's portable microprocessor based EPC software stack.
* Final tag price at around $10.

The compact chip features I2C and analogue interfaces that enable it to work with a number of external sensors. These may be used for monitoring and logging humidity, temperature and acceleration for example, running for months or even years, depending on frequency of logging. The tag is capable of working with a number of RFID systems from 126Khz to 960Mhz that operate alongside and can be integrated into new and existing company networks, generating real-time business information.

Dot is compatible with the EPC (Electronic Product Code) Class 1, Generation II (passive RFID) standard and is designed to make supply chain tagging more intelligent, with its combination of RFID, Real Time Location System (RTLS) and wireless sensing capabilities within a single chip. Dot is a unique hybrid chip, allowing compatibility with many industry standards; with the inclusion of memory and sensor inputs on-chip, Dot can be tailored to specific data capture requirements.

Dot features the first commercial release of Innovision's Versatile EPC Tag Software (VETS) implementation of the EPC C1G2 protocol for tag systems based on microprocessor architectures. The stack is designed to meet EPC tag certification requirements while retaining the flexibility to meet future implementations of C1G2 and proposed C1G3 battery powered tag requirements. VETS also allows full customisation of EPC functionality to meet the specific requirements of the tag user, allowing the customer to optimise the stack for memory size, security features, power saving modes and integration with other tag protocols. Another feature of the VETS stack is the ability to allow existing EPC infrastructures to access on-tag sensor data without costly modifications to the tag silicon designs.

Typically, Dot could be used within an enterprise for combined access control acting as a passive RFID product tag or active RFID asset tag. Dot can also be used within an RTLS and as a distributed sensor transmitter. Dot enables a new RFID/EPC infrastructure for multiple sources of information from multiple frequencies to support comprehensive in-house automatic identification architecture.

The active RFID and RTLS portions of Dot's capabilities are built on and are backward compatible with Axcess' 433Mhz and 315MHz receiver platforms. Tags are automatically activated using Axcess' 126KHz "wake-up" signal to transmit data to the palm-sized readers across a range of up to 300 feet. Receivers are connected to the organisation's systems software and existing security alarm equipment via standard networks or using 802.11x wireless.

For example: a mobile member of staff could take their laptop from their desk to IT for refurbishment, then into a meeting room and then back to their desk for further work, and this asset movement could be centrally tracked. Any equipment taken off-site, which is not matched with a staff member, can result in a security alert to prevent an unauthorised equipment removal. This facility can improve workplace efficiency by reducing time spent searching for or replacing missing equipment and enable workers to move around a site with equipment easily.

Rob Kitchen, VP of North American Sales for Innovision, adds: "In asset management terms, Return on Investment is based on being able to reliably identify, and then track assets in real time. With the IC engine developed by Innovision, this is now an affordable reality."
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