Metal Skin RFID – The New “Stealth” Information Technology
Consider for a moment the immense variety of different skins that play an important role in our lives each and every day. Modern electronics have a plethora of skins, including thin urethane skins that cover keyboards to protect them from dust, moisture and other contaminants that might damage their functionality. Apply the same logic to portable electronics such as smart phones and smart tablets ranging from screen protectors to full gel-type cases that mold to the form of the device and allow the usage of exterior buttons. Going further into the technological realm, consider the stealth “skin” of high tech air and watercraft used by military forces. Finally, but certainly not least, the skin that plays one of the most vital roles in our lives is our own skin, which allows us to function in everyday life with tactile sense, protection against things that might harm us, and in the case of fingerprints, contribute to our unique identify.
Challenges of RFID and Metal Asset Tracking
RFID and metal asset tracking is no stranger to the challenges of physics. Radio wave in general has a love-hate relationship with metal. Depending upon the dielectric of the surface either contacting or in proximity of a radio wave, in this case an RFID tag, the metal may act either as a reflector, amplifier or interferer. Common problems with using RFID on/near metal challenging early adopters working for a solution to metal asset tracking rejoiced at the introduction of a tag that could be mounted directly to a metallic or equivalent dielectric surface without major modification (this may evoke the memory of the “38 business card rule” for early users of passive UHF RFID where approximately 38 business cards, or the equivalent of 1 cm was used to space a passive UHF RFID label off metal to bring it into tune). Fast forward to present day where not only do tags that work on metal exist, but tags metal that may be embedded in metal are also available, such as Xerafy’s award winning iN series of tags.
However, for metallic applications with more rigorous requirements, such as curved surfaces requiring a flexible RFID tag that needs to conform to the surface having a thin and robust profile and a superior read performance, the roster of offerings up till recently, did not fit the bill. The introduction of the Xerafy Metal Skin, the world’s first true UHF EPC RFID inlay designed for tracking metal assets, helped meet this challenge.
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