The RFID market keeps launching new innovations to enable that elusive goal of getting end-to-end. Of course, how you define end-to-end varies based on your perspective. Let’s look at two examples.
Last week the SML1 released to the market two new tags, the GB3_R6 and MAZE_R6 inlays2 which address tag readability in many different settings. The MAZE for example with its unique antennae design can take products from the factory through high density shelving in the store. Visualize stacks of apparel, cosmetics or even auto supplies.
The GB3_R6 and MAZE_R6 inlays are designed to increase read ranges across wider angles of orientation, particularly in the dense tag populations typically found in high volume applications. More on the technology later.
The point to all these is that antennae design is one of the essential keys in readability. Many are designed for specific use cases and environments. The back-end warehouse issues or transportation challenges vary from store to store. Often one design may not work well in another. Different inlay designs are often needed for each type of product category. Dealing with this is a challenge for end-users. These challenges vary from how and when to tag each product from having to alter tags according to the process, product or channel.
A retailer may dictate what tag they want on products, but then what’s in it for the supplier?Without versatility, the answer may be very little.
This all puts a damper on the idea of source tagging. Thus, a more versatile antennae design with a more powerful chip that can self-tune may change the game and allow suppliers to deploy applications that help them in the warehouse. These include such applications such as accurate picking and shipping, followed by a tag that can accompany the goods through to the store, producing a win-win situation.
Many of today’s consumers are tracking themselves — with items such as Nike sensors, fitbitted, jawboned and so forth.These devices are acquired by consumers and demonstrate that we are not as opposed to tracking as many had claimed.
Adidas’ approach is quite interesting and instructive. The NFC installed in the factory allows end-to-end tracking — with the consumer now being the other end.Software applications integrated into the NFC range from intelligence in supply chain use case and brand protection, to Omni-channel shopping, kiosk-like product queries into where consumers can tap their phone next to the shoes and get online product info, to at home applications such as location/distance tracking and so on.One tag, end-to-end. Many benefits.
RFID is demonstrating clear benefits for customers. However, the more we think broadly across the value chain, the more return each constituent can gain from shared investments. These approaches become the real winner over time.
Appendix: – More on SML’s New Inlays:
The GB3_R6 is designed as a medium sized inlay at 50x30mm (1.97×1.18in) that performs extremely well in a wide variety of orientation modes – greatly improving readability in real-world applications. Backscatter performance has also been improved for longer read ranges, especially when using hand-held readers and older readers with lower receiver sensitivities. The GB3_R6 is ideal for item/asset tracking including: denim, poly bags, apparel tags and boxed items.
The MAZE_R6 is designed as a large sized inlay at 68x14mm (2.68×0.55in) and features enhanced antenna architecture with improved forward and reverse link performance – resulting in greater overall read ranges, especially in dense tag populations. The MAZE_R6 is ideal for item/asset tracking including: pallet placards, cases, denim, poly bags, apparel tags and boxed items.
Both the GB3_R6 and MAZE_R6 inlays feature industry-leading performance with read sensitivity up to-20.0 dBm and write sensitivity up to -16.7 dBm. Additional features include:
- AutoTune™ Technology – Dramatically improves inlay responsiveness by automatically and continually re-tuning the on-chip radios to compensate for changing environmental conditions, including the effects of nearby materials like fabrics, packaging and fixtures.
- TagFocus™ – Suppresses previously read inlays to enable fast capture of inlay data.
- FastID™ – Enables a high-speed multi-volume encoding process with quick write speeds of 1.6 ms for 32 bits.
Both the GB3_R6 and MAZE_R6 inlays have passed the ARC performance tests as defined by the RFID Lab at Auburn University certifying the inlays fully comply with specs A, B, C, D, F, G, I, K and M. The purpose of the ARC performance tests is to ensure that retail suppliers are able to deliver RFID tagged product to retailers that meet or exceed the levels of performance necessary to provide benefit to both the retailer and the retail supplier in a consistent and cost effective manner.
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