From SCDigest's OnTarget e-Magazine
Printable RFID has Long Been a Goal, and May Finally be Coming into its Own; Monash University Claims Major Breakthrough
SCDigest Editorial Staff
Are so-called "chipless" RFID tags soon to be the next big thing in the auto ID sector, to the extent of replacing the long-familiar bar code on consumer goods products sold at retail?
Maybe be so, according to research coming out of Monash University in Australia this week
First, some background. The ability to create RFID data storage and antenna through some kind of "printing" process has long been a sort of Holy Grail in the RFID industry. That's in part because for all the talk early on about the "five-cent RFID tag" as being a catalyst for the technology to explode, the reality is that many applications cannot be justified at even a nickel per chip.
Consumer goods to retail is the most prominent example of that reality, for which the familiar GTIN code (formally the UPC) printed on a package, label or tag is virtually free. That's a lot less than five cents.
Barcodes on packaged goods could soon be a thing of the past with the rapid expansion of chipless tags, and Monash University researchers are at the forefront of developing this technology, it was announced this week.
RFID tags that do not contain a silicon chip are called chipless tags, naturally enough. The potential promise of these chipless tags is that they could be printed directly on products and packaging for 0.1 cents and "replace ten trillion barcodes yearly with something far more versatile and reliable," say the researchers at IDTechEx.
There are many potential RFID applications that could result in tens of trillions of tags deployed, IDTechEx adds, but which cannot even be justified with a tag that even costs just one penny.
The next ten years will see a rapid gain in market share of chipless tags, IDTechEx research says. The number of chipless tags sold globally will rise from 5 million (a 0.4% share) in 2006 to 267 billion and a 45% share in 2016. By value, chipless versions will rise from $1.2 million 0.1% in 2006 to $1.39 billion - a more modest 13% of all income from RFID tags in 2016 because most of the increase in penetration will be from dramatically lower prices per tag.
RFID technology companies have been chasing printable RFID tags for more than 15 years. Mototola, for example, announced in the late 1990s a technology it called BiStatix, which at the time it said involved "chip attached to an antenna that is printed in carbon ink and affixed to a label."
But Motorola never released a BiStatix product. It sold off some of the technology rights to another company in 2004, and from there the trail seems to end.
But that of course doesn't mean many others have been chasing the printable RFID dream.
That includes a research team at Australia's Monash University, led by Dr. Nemai Karmakar, from the Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering there. That team has been working on various chipless RFID tags for a number of years.
(RFID and AIDC Story Continued Below)