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Trolley Scan breaks another barrier

19 May 2004 News

Trolley Scan has crossed another major technical hurdle in the development of long range, efficent, low cost, passive RFID systems with the announcement that it has developed new materials that allow volume production of transponders that need just 200 µW of RF energy to operate. According to the company this represents a 42% improvement in the sensitivity of transponders supplied by Trolley Scan in the past.

Says Trolley Scan managing director, Mike Marsh, "Improving transponder sensitivity is like improving fuel consumption for a car - you can never have enough. Every time the sensitivity improves, it means that the transmitted power of the reader can be further reduced needing smaller transmitters to do the same job with longer battery life - or, the operating range of the transponder system increases. The new production transponders can be read 8 m from a reader radiating just 300 mW of power, similar to the power radiated from a cellphone. In addition, due to the miniscule amount of power needed to operate the transponder, polarisation becomes less important and transponders can be read on almost any orientation even with linear polarised antennas. The 8 m range is achievable even if the transponder is attached to metal."

In 1994 a state-of-the-art transponder used in the original Supertag version developed by a team led by Mike Marsh, and shown to the world with a shopping trolley of 38 items being scanned at the Pick 'n Pay hypermarket in Pretoria, needed 6000 µW of RF power to operate. In 2001 Trolley Scan started delivering 1000 µW versions with its evaluation systems. In December 2003, it delivered 350 µW credit card-sized versions, a major technical achievement as the previous systems all needed 160 mm dipoles while the credit card sized version was only 80 mm long. Now, the norm with the latest developments is 200 µW in a credit card-sized version. Also, the transmitter power needed now is only 3% of that needed for the original system.



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