What You Need to Know About Embedded RFID Readers

These small modules provide the performance of full-size readers and can be used to create next-generation solutions.
By Bob Violino

When evaluating modules, companies should consider features such as performance, output power, power consumption, form factor and the number of antennas that can be attached, Power notes. The types of features and capabilities required depend on the application. If, for example, a retailer wants to build a small device that can be carried around in a store or fit on an employee's belt, the Nano would offer the most flexibility. It also offers lower power consumption, which allows for a combination of a smaller, lighter battery and/or longer battery life, she adds. Performance features such as autonomous operation can decrease power consumption, because the "read on power up" mode allows the reader to consume power only when it is on.

In another scenario, a health-care company might require a cabinet that reads a large number of tagged supplies in many drawers and shelves. "Here, form factor is less important and a more powerful, high-performance module such as our ThingMagic M6e" is more appropriate, Power says. It offers four ports that can be multiplexed up to 64 antennas for a large number of read points throughout the cabinet, which typically has metal separating compartments. It also can accommodate RF loss across connectors and cabling, so each antenna gets sufficient power. Performance features can be optimized to accommodate a dense tag population.

Due to its small size, the embedded module M950 from IDtronic fits into almost all devices and housings. "End customers have successfully integrated our UHF modules into handheld computers and PDAs from third-party suppliers, or used them as a basis for OEM desktop and stationary systems," Kochendörfer says. "The wide-range M950, with an output power of 30 decibels per milliwatt, offers read ranges up to 10 meters, four antenna ports and an integrated multiplexer. This allows, for example, portal applications for logistics, vehicle access control or the identification of moving goods."

The IDtronic UHF Stick Reader R830 is ideal for a desktop reader in custom housing, or the integration into terminals and wall scanners, Kochendörfer says. ThingMagic and IDtronic are both seeing increased interest in their modules from end-user companies. "We tend to match them with a systems integrator in their area and industry," Power says. "We see that the interest from end users is picking up," Kochendörfer concurs. "Bigger companies that can provide the resources for integration projects are interested in our products."

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