Chip designer Asygn presents a passive UHF RFID sensor chip, which can be used in any existing RFID application.
Founded in 2008, Asygn first focused on the design of ICs for sensors and sensor interfaces in the RF environment. The experience gained in this technological environment has led the company to develop its first proprietary UHF RFID chip, which can be used as a full-fledged sensor in numerous applications.
Series production of a first variant of the AS321X chip is scheduled to start in September 2019.
RFID & Wireless IoT Global spoke with Nicolas Delorme, CTO, and Lionel Geynet, RFID Project Manager, of Asygn about the development, the application possibilities, and the next steps of further development.
Not Reinventing the Wheel – but Optimising it
UHF sensor tags are not a groundbreaking novelty on the market. However, available solutions either have too short detection ranges or require special hardware and software to read and process sensor data, reports Lionel Geynet:
"This gave us the impetus to design a UHF chip that fulfils the classic function of both an ID medium and a sensor. The aim of the development was for the chip to make measurements without an additional power source and only standard RFID hardware needed for communication."
Temperature Sensor Embedded Plus Analogue Interface
The first variant of the AS321X chip, series production of which is scheduled to start in September 2019, features a temperature sensor embedded in the silicon of the chip as well as an interface for connection to analogue, external sensors for recording measured values such as strain, humidity, or acceleration.
"The chip can convert the acquired sensor data into digital information and transmit it to the reader as long as it is in the reading field. The transmission takes only a few milliseconds. Ranges of four to five meters are currently no obstacle," says Lionel Geynet.
Additional Sensors Will be Made Available Directly on the Chip
"A second variant, which is currently under development, will have additional sensors embedded directly in silicon. It will be able to detect sensor values such as light incidence, acceleration, or contacts without the need for an external sensor," explains Nicolas Delorme. Both chip variants do not require any special commands to acquire sensor values.
Interesting for the Automotive, Logistics, and Retail Industries
Companies from the automotive industry are already testing the first samples. According to Nicolas Delorme, the aim is to achieve complete condition monitoring of components.
"Manufacturers and after-sales parts sellers must guarantee consistent quality over many years. UHF RFID tags based on the AS321X chip can be used, for example, to measure the temperature or other environmental conditions of parts, like identifying component faults after the assembly and finishing process. Numerous other applications, such as the detection of leaks caused by a drop in pressure, are also possible."
Costs will Depend on Volume
"Of course, the prices for the AS321X chip will be higher than for the usual UHF chips. With quantities in the range of 10,000 units produced, we would price at several Euros. However, since the AS321X can be used without any problems wherever a UHF infrastructure already exists and no additional hardware or software is required, we see the potential for millions of chips – per application area. These range from cold chain monitoring in logistics to component monitoring in the travel industry," says Lionel Geynet.