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>> RFID Technology News >> New Alien UHF Tags

New Alien UHF Tags Target Challenging Retail Environment

   Because the retail industry's use of item-level EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags surges globally, California-based UHF RFID tag manufacturer Alien Technology is aiming at most challenging use cases for the reason that sector, by releasing three new tags this month. The tags are commercially accessible now, and are currently being tested by several retailers and manufacturers. All three specified for to resolve problems in regions of the retail market by which tags were still hard to read. The GT (ALN-9728) is made to improve read reliability for general item-level tagging, the HiScan (ALN-9720) aims to enhance read effectiveness with handheld readers, and also the BAT (ALN-9770) addresses probably the most challenging environment: goods containing metal or liquid.
   Alien Technology has worked closely with customers to understand where tags aren't yet supplying the necessary read reliability, according to Neil Mitchell, Alien's director of promoting. "We possess a good selection of tags," he says, "but once we have talked with providers within the retail market, and retailers themselves, it's clear we as a marketplace need to improve the ability for tags to become read in challenging environments."
   The HiScan (ALN-9720) tag is designed for retail and apparel applications for which handheld visitors used, or when tags might be hidden behind many similar retail items.
There are, Mitchell says, certain items that receiving a good tag read is tough or might seem impossible, and those are the use cases that the three new tags are targeting. All three models include Alien's Higgs-4 IC, which offers 448 items of memory, including 128 items of Electronic Product Code (EPC) memory.
   The GT is really a general-use retail item-level tag for use in hangtags, joker labels (cardboard labels affixed towards the backs of jeans) along with a number of other tags which are attached to apparel or any other retail goods. The dry (nonadhesive) version of the inlay measures 1.97 inches by 1.18 inches (50 millimeters by 30 millimeters). The GT's predecessor, the H-Tag, contained a Higgs-3 chip, as the GT model?awith the Higgs-4 chip and other design optimization?aoffers a far more reliable and longer read range than the H-Tag.
   The BAT (ALN-9770) tag is specialized for tagging automotive batteries and similar plastic containers full of fluid or metals.
The GT was created for uses cases by which jeans, for instance, are stacked unevenly, having a variety of orientations for that tags within those stacks. "It's designed to find out more reliably and at longer distances," Mitchell says, contrasting the GT's performance with this of the H-Tag or any other companies' existing tags for item-level retail applications.
The tag has been tested by research groups in the University of Arkansas' RFID Research Center to be used on denim, polybagged apparel and hanging apparel.
   The HiScan is made to operate best when interrogated by handheld readers, which generally utilize lower power than fixed or desktop models. Mitchell notes that item-level tags in many cases are read via handheld readers at stores, while personnel collect inventory data, and also the HiScan is created specifically to respond within a low-power environment. The dry form of the inlay measures 1.56 inches by 0.61 inch (40 millimeters by 15.5 millimeters).
   The BAT tag, which measures 3.25 inches by 1.25 inches (82.5 millimeters by 32 millimeters), is meant for use on automotive batteries and plastic containers filled with metal or fluids. Batteries pose one of the biggest challenges to tagging, given that they contain a great quantity of metal and liquid, which make reading passive UHF RFID tags very hard. Under real-world conditions, Mitchell says, batteries could be stacked on the pallet, three or four deep, with several layers of batteries piled on top of them. "It can be quite difficult to read that center tag on the pallet," according to him. Therefore, Alien Technologies have tested the tag extensively on automotive batteries. However, he notes, it might also be right for experience any item composed of heavy plastic and containing liquids or metal.
   The GT (ALN-9728) tag is tuned to be used within retail environments in which items are tightly packed on shelves or hangers.
All three tags can handle being encoded with Alien's BlastWrite and QuickWrite mass-encoding systems (see Alien Technology Releases Pre-encoded Higgs-4 Chip). BlastWrite is a technique in which a user can email dozens or hundreds of tags in parallel at any given time, while QuickWrite enables a person to create multiple words to a single chip utilizing a lone command. This accelerates EPC and memory initialization for brand owners seeking to program tags individually.
   According to Mitchell, the tags are being used or tested by numerous customers, though he declined to point how the tags are now being employed, or the types of products that they might be attached. "They are very much big-name retailers," he indicates. To date, he says, these customers are convinced that the tags are selling improved performance over that of tags used or tested.
   "The big picture behind all of this is that there is lots of strength in the retail marketplace for tags," Mitchell states. "For us, we are building around the success we've had, and just what you're seeing now fits into the overall picture in our strengthening position [in the retail sector]." Alien Technology, he reports, will "continue to meet needs of our customers inside a cost-effective manner." He did not provided pricing information for that three new tags, but says, "We will continue to evolve the price."

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