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Focus: RFID and Automated Identification and Data Collection (AIDC)

Feature Article from Our RFID and AIDC Subject Area - See All


From SCDigest's OnTarget e-Magazine

- April 22, 2015 -


RFID and AIDC News: New Chipless RFID Tag Could Transform the Industry


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

SCDigest Says:


"The fact that chipless tags be printed directly on to products and packaging means they are far more reliable, smaller and cost effective than any other barcoding system," Karmakar says.

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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.

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)




Now, the Monash team has developed fully printable tags for metals and liquids including water bottles and soft drinks cans. Until now, this hasn't been possible because the metal and liquids interfere with the RFID signal. Karmakar says the tags can be printed with an inkjet printer and can be read when they are attached to reflective surfaces such as metal cans and water bottles.


Karmakar said he believes the team was the first to be to develop fully printable chipless RFID tags on paper and plastics - and the technology could revolutionize the multi-billion dollar RFID market.

"The fact that chipless tags be printed directly on to products and packaging means they are far more reliable, smaller and cost effective than any other barcoding system," Karmakar says.

The Monash innovation is much smaller than any other commercially available chipless RFID tags, Karmakar says. However they can still store a high amount of data and information.

"The main challenge that we have overcome is to transfer the technology to paper and plastic while retaining the required printing resolution. It's very promising indeed in its ability to revolutionize the multi-billion dollar RFID market," Karmakar added.

The Monash website on chipless RFID notes, however, that dedicated reader is designed to read a specific chipless tag. Since the tag is fully dumb, and contains no intelligent chipset, the reader contains all signal processing and intelligence capabilities. Based on frequency, time and hybrid domain tag types, readers are designed. Conventional anti-collision and hand-shaking algorithms cannot be used in chipless tag systems.

More on this potential breakthrough soon.

What do you think if chipless RFID generally, or this apparent breaktrough specifically?
Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.


Recent Feedback

We are a worldwide automotive metal parts supplier. We would like to tag all our individual stamped metal parts. This must be economical, the printed RFID seams to be the ideal solution. Would your solution work on metal parts? Which is the Reading range? Is it possible to read a full container of - lets say about 1000 parts - in one alone reading? Thank you for comment. Where can I get more information?

Bernhard Gebhard
Gestamp Automocion
Nov, 27 2016