Archive for June, 2008

Art of RFID Antennas

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Check this beautiful line arts of RFID antenna design technologies:

Outer Space

µ-Chip Hibiki by Hitachi.

This is an astronaut’s mobile phone kit, right? Nope! It’s Hitachi’s early gen 2 µ-Chip Hibiki, pronounced mu-chip, also known as the “5-yen tag,” introduced in late 2006. Why 5-yen? If ordered in large quantities, each one costs only ¥5. A bargain! Now, why this Greek letter? It’s a variation of the µ-Chip which is only tiny 0,4 mm square. However, the Hibiki is 102 x 135 mm in size.

Alpine Serpentine

Japanese DNP’s Nile.

We bet that the lab behind the shape of the Nile RFID chip by DNP must have had something like a radiant heater in mind as inspiration. These serpents have a minimalist elegance. Don’t get lost in its beautiful wavy lines, this is still an ultra-high-frequency chip with 96 bit memories.

Gesturing Man

The ‘global tag’ by UPM Raflatac.

A 512 bit memory is hidden in this shiny metal, simply called ‘global tag’ by UPM Raflatac. Check the tiny filigree pattern! How about an RFID necklace with ultra-high frequency (UHF)?

Alien Sktechbook

This must be part of an alien spaceship! The Rafsec Memory Stick by UPM Raflatac.

A memory stick? Oh, not your USB stick, this one has only 512 bit. Note that ultra-high frequency (UHF) RFID systems are being widely deployed since several large corporations got that through, including international retailers and — not to forget — the U.S. Department of Defense.

Picture Frame for Geeks

Rafsec 49 x81 mm Tag by UPM Raflatac’s.

OK, the shape of this Rafsec Tag isn’t that peculiar, but hey, its high frequency (HF) is in use worldwide. A typical high frequency would be 13,56 MHz. HF systems are widely used in libraries, mass transportation (think SUICA and PASMO train cards) and product authentication applications. Capacity: 1024 bits! Depending on the usage, this HF tag either comes as non-adhesive inlay, die-cut web with adhesive, filmic face (for wet inlay,) or in a tag with a paper face. Stylish.

Weather Satellite

A satellite! The Avery Dennison AD-612.

This multi-frequency inlay code-named AD-612 by Avery Dennison has the usual 860-960 MHz frequency — and an utterly space age shape! We wonder which sci-fi scientist came up with this sketch-like design that resembles an orbitting satellite.

Next Season’s Jewellery

Golden plate by Texas Instruments, the Tag-it HF-I Transponder.

Blinded by this glimmering gold, we get that this one isn’t exactly brand new, but still a nice sight; the high frequency Tag-it HF-I Plus Transponder Inlay by Texas Instruments goes by the standard 13,56 MHz and has a 2 Kb memory to store your precious data. This wafer is inked, ground and sewn onto tape. Nice sewing job!

Tribal

ALN-9540 – “Squiggle™” by Alien Technology.

A true tag for the world, at least so says manufacturer Alien Technology. This little squiggle is operating between 860 to 960 MHz, with a ‘generation 2′ performance. It was created for most types of packaging, including products containing metal and water. Metal bento, anyone? Watch out, it’s a mere 97 x 11 mm!

The Labyrinth

The ALN-9529 – “Squiggle®-SQ,” another one by Alien Technology.

Oh, a little squiggle! This fancy-looking UHF operates between 860 and 960 MHz. Said to be ideal for item level tagging of plastic packaging such as pill bottles and apparel tags. So this is already in use at your local department store. Also featuring near-field and far-field communication. So talkative!

Ancient Cave-painting

A very stylised crab! UPM Raflatac’s Rafsec Crab.

If this were an ancient cave-painting you’d be amazed by its geometric shape. Well, it’s a stylised crab called Rafsec Crab and only slightly newer — also from the high-performing UHF, ultra-high frequency, group by UPM Raflatac. By the way, the other chips of the the same series have some quite weird shapes named Frog, DogBone or Hammer. Welcome to this unusual family! And what a modest memory of 96/240 bits.

Source: PingMag

Microcontrollers can run without a battery in energy-harvesting systems

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

The low-power microcontroller market is really heating up (figuratively speaking). The latest entry comes from Texas Instruments, which is releasing some new members of its MSP430 family, namely the MSP430F5xx.

The company is claiming to offer the industry’s lowest power consumption for devices that can provide up to 25-MHz peak performance, increased amounts of embedded flash memory and RAM, and integrated peripherals, such as USB and LCD interfaces.

The intelligent digital and analog peripherals consume no power when not in operation. A high-resolution timer enables applications like voice-activated home security systems. Up to 1 Mbyte of linear memory mapping enables robust user interfaces, as well as applications for ZigBee and other low-power RF sensor networks.

Source: Embedded.com

World’s first 32-b ARM-based ZigBee radio module

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

CEL reports that it has released the world’s first 32-bit ARM-based ZigBee radio module. The new IEEE 802.15.4 transceiver solution is named the FreeStar Pro (part number ZFSM-201-1) and is based on the Freescale MC13224V 32 bit ARM Platform-in-Package (PiP).

The processing power of the MC13224V enables designers to eliminate the peripheral host processors often required by 8 and 16-bit transceiver solutions. FreeStar Pro modules are well suited for remote sensing, AMR/AMI, home and building automation, industrial control, and security applications. With +20dBm output power and a range of over 4000 feet, they’re also a good fit for mesh, point-to-point, and point-to-multipoint networks. Transmit current is specified at 150 mA, receive is 21mA, and standby is 1.1μA.

FreeStar Pro modules have a footprint of 23 x 31 mm. They feature an integrated antenna as well as an optional interface for an external antenna. Modules support the Freescale BeeStack™ software, and will be FCC, IC and CE certified.

Evaluation Kits provide two modules mounted on self-contained interface boards. These boards can be optionally battery-powered enabling developers to create and test network connections under real-world environmental conditions. Evaluation Software is also included in the kits that allow designers to configure the modules’ settings: transmission channel, network ID, node ID, transmission power, send and receive packets; and determine packet error rates.

FreeStar Pro modules will begin sampling in August with pricing $16 (10,000 qty.)

Click here for more information.

RFID may cause interference with medical equipments

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

Certain types of radio frequency identification tags can cause electromagnetic interference with medical equipment, according to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The report cautions facilities to check for interference from an RFID system before deploying it.

The study examined the impact of 125-kHz and 868-MHz frequencies on medical equipment. The 125-kHz is the technology used in proximity cards while the 868-MHz is a long-range RFID tag. Contactless smart cards, which use the 13.56 MHz, were not mentioned in the report.

In 123 tests, RFID induced 34 incidents of interference: 22 were classified as hazardous, two as significant, and ten as light. The 868-MHz RFID signal induced a higher number of incidents, 26 incidents in 41 EMI tests. Compared with the 125-kHz RFID signal which cause eight incidents in 41 tests. The median distance between the RFID reader and the medical device in all EMI incidents was 30 centimeters.

Read a summary of the report here.

Car Reads Road Signs For You

Friday, June 27th, 2008

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As cars become smarter than the people driving them and do more of the things humans should be doing for themselves — checking blind spots, watching for lane departures, anticipating collisions — it was only a matter of time before a car started reading road signs.

The “Traffic Sign Recognition and Lane Departure Warning” system available early next year on General Motors’ new Euro-only Opel/Vauxhall Insignia scans the road ahead at 30 frames per second to read road signs and tell you when you’re wandering from your lane.

The most innovative aspect of the system is the road-sign recognition processor, which can read signs as far as 100 meters away.

The system uses two processors and a camera — called, appropriately, the Front Camera System — mounted near the rear-view mirror. One processor identifies familiar shapes, symbols and digits on common road signs and conveys the information to the driver via a digital display in the gauge cluster. The other alerts the driver when he or she strays from the lane.

“These new features follow Opel’s philosophy of enhancing driving excitement by assisting drivers without reducing their level of control,” says Hans Demant, managing director of GM Europe Engineering. “That means the system gives the drivers information, but it doesn’t intervene.”

We’re not entirely sure why GM thinks it’s easier to read a speed-limit sign on a tiny display between your speedometer and tachometer than on a big road sign. Dement says “a car that can see and warn the driver well in advance of potential hazards is another important step in our long-term accident prevention strategy.” GM Europe also is developing vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems that allow cars to exchange information about their position and speed.

Source: WIRED

Graphic by GM.

Sneak Preview: Fuel Consumption Management as Gussmann’s additional features for AVLS

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

fuelcharts.png

Following the hike madness in global fuel price, Gussmann Technologies is revealing their precious Fuel Consumption Management module in their AVLS/Fleet Management software. Some charts & consumptions reporting are told to be as additional features in current version of the application, ver3.2. They also developed special fuel flowmeter & level sensor for this purpose.

Gussmann Technologies website, G1 web application

Works on RFID system to analyze traffic

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

trafficIPICO Inc. and McMaster RFID Applications Laboratory have been awarded a $1.2 million (Canadian dollars) grant to create an RFID system that would capture and analyze data related to traffic use and capacity, without a corresponding increase in investment in road infrastructure. The technology also could be used to help manage traffic, reducing road delays and transit time, and then reduce both emissions and dependency on fossil fuels.

The grant was from the International Science and Technology Partnerships Canada Inc. and the Global Innovation & Technology Alliance. McMaster and IPICO will work with the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and Strategic Consultants, both of New Delhi, India.

The consortium had submitted a proposal to develop and create a platform for a specially designed passive commercial RFID transponder that would be capable of carrying significant, safe, secure and accurate information pertaining to the vehicle itself, including its identity. This information collected would be used to manage transportation flows on highways and roads.

Source: RFID News

AVR-Based House Monitoring System

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

The AVR-Based House Monitoring System is designed around the ATmega8515 microcontroller. The system offers hard-wired and wireless control along with a 1-Wire temperature network. A web-based, user-friendly interface enhances the project. [source]

AVR-Based House Monitoring System – [Download Project] [View Abstract]

Pachube, Youtube for sensors

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

This is pretty cool, but the name maybe needs a bit of work… just some additional informations about this interesting web service, previously covered in Realtime sensor network awaits your input or output

Pachube (pronounced “patch bay”) is a web service available at http://www.pachube.com that enables people to tag and share real time sensor data from objects, devices and spaces around the world.The key aim is to facilitate interaction between remote environments, both physical and virtual.

Apart from enabling direct connections between any two environments, it can also be used to facilitate many-to-many connections: just like a physical “patch bay” (or telephone switchboard) Pachube enables any participating project to “plug-in” to any other participating project in real time so that, for example, buildings, interactive installations or blogs can “talk” and “respond” to each other.

Source: WSN Blog Link , Original Link

The ZigBee Lesson

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

What does the story of another low-power, low-cost radio standard tell us about the future of RFID?

At about the same time as Electronic Product Code (EPC) technology was being developed, another somewhat similar standard was being born. ZigBee is a standard for mesh networking, in which tiny low-powered radios form networks by passing data among themselves.

Mesh networking is a cool idea on a chalkboard. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, academic mathematicians enthusiastically calculated what shapes and communication styles mesh networks should have, what their power would be, and how they would work.

But what was the point? While ZigBee could pass information over short ranges at low costs, RFID could identify things over short ranges at a lower cost. And while ZigBee was simpler and cheaper than Wi-Fi, which was becoming the dominant force in wireless local-area networking, it was also less powerful. What was the killer application that did not need the luxurious bandwidth of Wi-Fi, but needed more networking capability than could be had from the simple identification provided by RFID?

ZigBee enthusiasts and entrepreneurs wrestled with that question for more than five years. There were disappointments. Opportunities appeared and shimmered, but turned out to be mirages. There was military ZigBee, medical ZigBee, even ZigBee-enabled RFID readers and tags. None of these led to large orders. ZigBee appeared to be in trouble, crushed between cheaper RFID and more powerful Wi-Fi.

Two years ago, I mentioned ZigBee at a meeting with one of the world’s largest wireless networking companies and got a derisory reaction: ZigBee, explained the Wi-Fi product manager, was a dead technology. Wi-Fi could do everything ZigBee could do and would soon be cheaper, too, due to the huge volumes of Wi-Fi devices being manufactured. At about the same time, an MIT engineering Ph.D. pointed me to a detailed paper showing that ZigBee would fail due to unavoidable bandwidth crunches. It all seemed very convincing.

Then the U.S. electricity industry decided, with a little encouragement from the federal government, that it was time to replace decades-old electricity meters with new, network-enabled devices that would not just monitor energy consumption but potentially control it as well. Wi-Fi was too expensive and too power-hungry; the point was to reduce power use, not add to it. Since all the meters, air conditioners and light switches were conveniently located right alongside one another, the solution was obvious and ready to go: ZigBee. Today, millions of dollars are being invested in ZigBee home-automation technology.

What does this have to do with RFID? The lesson of ZigBee is that all major technologies go through cycles of hope and despair, of exuberance and pessimism, of adoring experts and then scathing experts. This happens until those first big commercial applications kick in. Then it’s hard to find a naysayer anywhere. So if you find yourself wondering whether the RFID revolution is ever going to come, remember ZigBee—where the right questions turned out to be how and when, not if.

Souce: RFID Journal