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Multibeam antenna boosts RFID accuracy and reliability

24 July, 2017

German researchers have developed a multibeam antenna for RFID (radio frequency identification) systems which, they claim, provides high levels of accuracy when capturing data from transponders, as well as improving reliability, especially in challenging environments. The antenna, which is compatible with all common RFID readers, is about to start pilot trials.

“The antenna provides up to nine individual beams, allowing for directional reading of transponders,” explains Dr Mario Schühler, group manager for antennae at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (IIS), where the technology has been developed. “This way, we achieve a higher read range and accuracy without mechanical adjustments of the antenna. As a result, we can be more specific about what RFID transponders we detect and read.”

Because the new antenna can detect directional movement, it can distinguish between incoming and outgoing goods, or between moving and stationary objects. This helps RFID users to choose which transponders to read.

The antenna is also optimised for bulk reading, allowing it to scan multiple transponders simultaneously. It is claimed to achieve high rates of data capture with metal objects or liquid containers.

The antenna can replace several separate antennae installed in different locations. This lowers procurement costs and reduces the time and money spent on installation and maintenance.

A forklift passes between a pair of the multibeam antennae
Photo: Fraunhofer IIS/Sabine Metzger

The new antenna can be used with standard readers and is easy to integrate into existing RFID systems. It is suitable for all ultra-high frequency applications, and for indoor or outdoor use. With its broadband frequency range of 860–960MHz, the antenna meets international RFID standards and can be used worldwide. Switching to the antenna will allow companies that operate globally to standardise their identification systems, IIS suggests.

The antenna can be used anywhere that electronic identification systems are used to detect, allocate and track materials, components and goods. Contact-free RFID technology detects objects carrying electronic information tags, speeding up processes in production, logistics and retail applications.

Starting from August 2017, multibeam antennae from the first small-scale production batch will be available for pilot users to test. They will also have the opportunity to help guide the last stage of tweaks in line with their requirements before the antenna is launched commercially.

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