Impinj brings UHF RFID to item level

By Kirsty Barnes

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Rfid

Impinj showcased what it claims is the world's first application of
ultra-high frequency (UHF) Gen 2 RFID technology for item-level
tagging of pharma products.

The company's UHF RFID tag can now be used in both long-range and short-range applications, allowing the same tag to be used throughout the supply chain to track pharmaceuticals from the pallet right through to the item level.

This is achieved by using the electric field aspect of the radio frequency (RF) wave for the pallet and case-level of the supply chain and the magnetic field aspect for item-level applications.

"This is the first UHF tag running on 900 MHz frequency to achieve this,"​ company representative Vinay Gokhale told In-PharmaTechnologist.com.

Historically, RFID tags have used high frequency (HF; 13.56 MHz) and rely on the near-field magnetic aspect of the radio frequency (RF) wave, limiting its applications to close range.

Due to this limitation, early applications of RFID technology in the pharma industry have focused only on the pallet and case-level of the supply chain.

The birth of UHF Gen 2 RFID technology has changed this, as it uses the electric component of the RF wave, allowing a longer read range and a better performing system.

The greater predictability and performance offered by Gen 2 has paved the way for the expansion of this technology to item-level tagging.

However, a problem being experienced by users of UHF has been the tendency of its short wavelengths to be absorbed by liquids and thus the technology has not been deemed suitable for tagging pharma products, many of which are in liquid form.

But UHF tags actually consist of both magnetic (near field) and electric (far field) components of the RF wave can use either one, depending on the design of the tag antenna and the distance of the tag from the reader.

"The problem with using UHF tags to read near liquids actually only applies​ said Gokhale.

Thus Impinj's Gen 2 RFID tag has been designed to use both and overcome this problem.

Impinj also exhibited its Gen 2 UHF RFID reader, designed by Convergence Systems and powered by Impinj technology.

Unlike other readers, the feature of this reader is that it uses a monostatic antenna, which allows input and output on the same antenna and thus a single read and write zone, increasing the speed and predictability of reading the tags.

"This reader is very high performance. It has the ability to process 1000 tags per second, compared to 100 with other readers,"​ said Gokhale.

"No other reader can do this,"​ he said.

The company expects to be running pilot programs with its new technology in the next few weeks.

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