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PRESS RELEASE - UHF RFID passive transponder technology makes another leap

Trolley Scan (South Africa) develops a new transponder with massive range performance.

UHF RFID passive transponder technology makes another leap

Trolley Scan (Pty) Ltd, a Johannesburg, South Africa based developer of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technologies announced the development of a new passive transponder that has approximately 100% improvement in range over previous versions. Announcing the development, Mike Marsh, Managing Director of Trolley Scan (Pty) Ltd said - "Trolley Scan have developed an amazing passive UHF transponder with a measured operating range of more than 25 meters. Bearing in mind that passive transponders do not have onboard energy, but have to collect energy radiated from the reader, a transponder that is passive and can work at 25 meters has to operate on minute amounts of radio power. In this case the transponder needs just 40 microwatts of radio energy in its collecting area. The transponder is specifically designed to be attached to metal and metal like objects." Previously, the maximum range with passive transponders with Trolley Scan readers was 13 metres.

The impressive performance comes from the combination of a new integrated circuit specially made for Trolley Scan and from Trolley Scan's spectacular RF antenna developments for transponders.

The new transponder has been specifically designed to be used with tracking laptop computers and office equipment, but also finds use in tagging metal items.

Trolley Scan make UHF RFID fixed readers. UHF portable readers, UHF RFID-radar systems and a range of transponders for different packaging requirements. The new transponder technology is compatible with all the reader products made by Trolley Scan and with all the earlier ranges of transponders.

The details are available from the Trolley Scan website at www.trolleyscan.com

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By way of an explanation for those technically interested.
The staff at Trolley Scan were involved in the first developments of UHF transponders for retail applications, namely the development of Supertag in 1990 in Pretoria, South Africa.
At that time we aimed to build a single chip transponder for use in tagging items in a grocery trolley. Then semiconductor technology was at such a stage of development that there were analogue type devices which could handle RF components, and a separate type of technology was in use for digital circuitry for data handling. Hence we ended up with two chips on each transponder. About ten years later single chip devices were practical that had both the RF and the digital circuitry on a single device and single chip transponders became available.

The transponders get their power from the energising field and to visualise the power distribution back in 1990, we made a number of small dipoles with light emitting diodes. Attaching these to the wall of the office and aiming the energising antennas at the wall from about 3 metres away, together with a fair size RF power generator, we could get the LEDs to glow if they were in the main beam and hence see the power distribution. Those devices needed about 54 milliwatts of power in the collecting area and had an operating range of about three metres with the transmitters and antennas we then used. The two chip transponders needed similar power.

Since January 2004, Trolley Scan have been supplying 200uW versions of transponders, that is a 250 times improvement on the originals. We now have a new transponder which is also passive, is attached to metal items, and uses just 40 microwatts (uW) of power, that is 1350 times less power than the originals.

This dramatic improvement over time, has meant greatly increased range for operation. It also has led to reduced energising power being needed from the reader, which means smaller RF amplifiers and the ability to use lower gain antennas which can spread the power over a wider angle increasing the area of coverage. The lower power needs of the new transponders also means that portable readers which can operate on batteries for a reasonable time and yet give a 10 metre read range are practical.

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About Trolley Scan (Pty) Ltd
Trolley Scan have proven to be a major creative force in the development of UHF RFID technologies.

The staff of Trolley Scan, which was founded in 1995, have a pedigree that goes back to 1990 when the first low cost RFID protocol was developed by the founder while working for a South African government research organisation, culminating in 1994 in the demonstration of a supermarket trolley containing 38 items being scanned automatically in a supermarket in Pretoria. In 1998, the founders of Trolley Scan developed an entirely new set of protocols for UHF RFID which they have been actively promoting. They also have addressed the situation of the 3 dimensional scanning of goods, and have developed a very low power RFID version which they commercialise under the EcoTag trademark.

In August 2005 Trolley Scan invented RFID-radar. Trolley Scan are based in Johannesburg South Africa.

Trolley Scan licence their patents and technology to companies around the world who wish to produce this technology. Trolley Scan have sold RFID systems to users in 50 countries.

Complete systems can be ordered via their website at www.trolleyscan.com.

RFID systems comprise of a transponder 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. The transponder can consist of a simple antenna and a small integrated circuit that can be produced at low cost. Operating in the 860 to 960 MHz (UHF) band, the transponder can be identified meters away from the reader, can be identified in a group with up to 1000 other transponders when being read, and can be identified very quickly. In view of the system using radio waves for energy and information transfer, it is not necessary for the transponder and reader to be in line of sight.

Potential use of these systems is extensive, from herd animal tracking, library books, pallets, warehousing, bank and postal bags, asset tracking, laptop tracking, airline luggage, vehicle monitoring (access and parking), to intelligent buildings (tracking files, documents and assets moving around an office to minimise finding time).

The ultimate goal is to use these transponders with their inbuilt anti-shoplifting features to replace the barcodes labelling goods in a retail store allowing filled supermarket trolleys to be scanned in seconds in unmanned self-service checkout aisles.

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