UHF RFID to replace 13.56MHz RFID in its last niche?

Paul Boughton

RFID engineering company metraTec, based in Magdeburg, Germany, offers a wide range of OEM  modules for integration into its customers devices.

Typical applications for such OEM modules include checking the authenticity of replacement parts in a device, doing quality assurance of consumables or just checking the identity of a device user.

Many device manufacturers want to integrate RFID technology into their new products but don't have the necessary specialized knowledge in RF engineering and communication protocols. This is where the complete pre-certified RFID modules from metraTec come in handy.

The company not only supplies these modules but accompanies its customers from the requirement stage through product integration and certification right until the product rollout.

In the past, selecting the right RFID frequency for an embedded project was easy: if it had to be  cheap and you didn't need to store any data, you would chose LF RFID (125-135KHz) – if you had to store data and needed long term support, you would chose HF RFID (13.56MHz). In theory, there was a third optional available with UHF RFID (868-950MHz) but due to the costs, larger size and high power consumption this was rarely a real option in embedded projects.

Thanks to new RFID UHF modules, such as the DwarfG2-Mini, this situation has changed. With only 21 by 28 mm it is comparable in size to most HF modules on the market and with the low power consumption of max. 200mA heat is no problem either.

At the same time, you get a few technological advantages with the frequency. Metal is not such a big problem with the right transponder and due to reflection of the field you could even read around corners, if necessary. Also, scanning more than one transponder in the field is quite easy with UHF which allows you to check the presence of several replacement parts with a single reader and antenna.

In addition, new embedded UHF near field antennas, like the Echo-N PCB, allow to integrate UHF RFID into any device without special knowledge. With the evaluation kit you can read and write RFID tags in a few minutes. If you don't feel save doing the integration yourself, metraTec also offers a design-in service where a complete individual carrier board is designed according to your requirements. Certification support like FCC/IC certification for the final product is also offered.