Next Webinar: RFID Sensor Tags – The Current state and the Future of Wireless Sensing Applications – Learn more and register here

Feb 24, 2022

Sensing Tattoo, Cyber Tooth and Check Your Own Brain – Review of RAIN RFID Research in 2021

In 2021, RFID with sensing technologies continued to be a major research area. The COVID-19 pandemic was also seen in RFID research topics.

Plenty of interesting research papers were published and, unfortunately, I can only introduce a very limited selection of the research topics.

Sensor tags – sci-fi brought to reality

RFID combined with sensing continues to be the overwhelmingly most common broad research area in RFID. But research has clearly moved beyond the traditional sensor tags. Some of the described ideas and methods seemed more like sci-fi than science.

Sensing Covid-19

Covid-19 has inspired some research papers, and practical RFID-based solutions are being developed to help in fighting the pandemic.

Masks’ wetness can reduce their filtering capabilities. Do RFID-based sensors offer a solution?

Monitoring structures and machinery

Measuring and monitoring the condition of structures and equipment was another topic area for RFID research last year.

RFID could be used for the early detection of building surface cracks.

RFID sensors in medical applications

Combining RFID, sensors and medical diagnostics pushes biomedical sciences to a new level.

Wearable tags, miniaturization and hard to tag items

Textile, yarn, and wearable RFID continue to be another common research topic.

The stretching of fabrics is an issue for common RFID tag antenna designs. This paper introduces a way to create stretchable antennas suitable for textiles: Stretchable Textile Yarn Based on UHF RFID Helical Tag.

There are also several papers published around the topic of making ever smaller tags with higher read ranges, and using them to tag, for example, metallic objects:

Machine learning and Blockchain

Machine learning and Blockchain combined with RFID are rising research areas.

Voyantic Tagformance

Voyantic Tagformance® system is widely used in RFID and NFC research. Read more or book a demo to learn more.

Feb 22, 2022

Noora Honkala Sets Multiple Records at the Sparta City Ultra Race

Saturday, Feb 19, 2022, the city of Sparta in Greece witnessed a staggering performance by one of the best female ultrarunners in the world. Finnish ultrarunner Noora Honkala broke four national records in one single run. Her result was all time 3rd in the 12h race global rankings.

Voyantic has supported Noora in her professional athlete journey since 2017.

The first ever SPARTA CITY ULTRA took place in the Main Street of Sparta, on a two kilometer long loop track. A total of 88 runners participated in the 6h, 12h and 24h races.

Noora started fast by crossing the first marathon at 3:02, and the 50 km at 3:39.32, breaking her first national record. At the 6h mark she had reached 79.00 km, breaking another national record. Not slowing down she passed 100km mark with a time of 7:41.54 (another national record). At this point she was under the world record pace for 12h race. Unfortunately, closing at the 8h mark her stomach started to throw dark skies over her run, forcing her to stop for few times. She tried to keep up the pace but at the 10h mark her stomach forced her to slow down rapidly. Even so Noora held her “slow” pace to the end and finished at 145.400km in 12h — Breaking the 12h national record and putting her the third (3) best performance in all-time world ranking.

Whoever witnessed the race saw a spectacular performance and what ultrarunning is all about. There is plenty more to be seen from Noora!

Learn more about Voyantic’s cooperation with Noora ›

Feb 09, 2022

Join us at the RAIN Alliance Meeting

Voyantic is proud to sponsor the first virtual RAIN Alliance meeting of 2022. The two-day event will be an opportunity for both RAIN Members and non-members to connect and collaborate on content and topics arising from RAIN members and the industry at large.

Dates: March 1-3, 2022

Learn more

Feb 01, 2022

Webinar Series for Barcode Pros – Getting Started with RFID Labels

Last year, we teamed up with TSC Printronix Auto ID and started a webinar series designed for barcode professionals, who are considering expanding their offering to RAIN RFID labels, or who already are at the beginning of that journey. With TSC Printronix Auto ID we saw the need for education as more and more barcode label customers are looking for RFID solutions. 

In the first webinar, What a barcode professional needs to know about RAIN RFID Label and Tag Data, we started from the basics: what are the key aspects of RAIN RFID technology and data, how does RAIN RFID actually work, what are the system components, and most importantly, where can you find more information. 

The second part of the webinar series, What a Barcode Professional Needs to Know about the RAIN RFID Encoding Processes, focused on the practicalities of the RAIN RFID encoding process, equipment, and alternatives. 

In the third webinar, What a Barcode professional needs to know about RAIN RFID label selection and sourcing, scheduled for February 10th, we will cover the most important considerations related to label selection and sourcing process including label specifications, supplier selection, delivery format, handling, and other issues.

Here are my main takeaways from the first two webinars in the series.

Key Takeaways from Part 1 

It is crucial to understand filtering in the context of RFID systems

The nature of RF signals means that they can go through walls and various other materials. A RAIN RFID reader can read a large number of tags simultaneously and without a line of sight, which is, in comparison, required for reading barcodes. For example, when you are inventorying tagged items in storage, your system could be reading tags behind a wall that should not be included in your inventory. Setting up tag filtering correctly ensures that your application works accurately, and that requires following proper data encoding processes. 

There are 9 RFID tags on the wall, but the reader found 54 tags.

There is no “one size fits for all” RAIN tag

What do you need to know about RAIN RFID tags when looking for a tag for your customer? The difference between a barcode label and an RFID label is that the RFID label includes an IC (microchip) and an antenna. Together the IC and the antenna make up an RFID inlay. There are lots of different IC models out there and the type of IC defines what kind of and how much data can be encoded in the tag. The antenna model defines how far the label can be read. Knowing your solution requirements, physical factors such as the label size and item materials, and use cases and data requirements are necessary for finding the best tag for your solution.

Do not use a proprietary numbering system

Keeping the importance of filtering in mind, it is crucial to understand the basics of RAIN RFID encoding systems, i.e., how you are putting data into a tag. There are three data standard families available for RAIN RFID tag encoding

Following one of the established data standards ensures there won’t be issues with tag filtering (and application errors) along the road.

The fourth option is to use your own proprietary encoding systems – Please do not do it! Or if you do, you need to “wrap” your system within the ISO standard or the RAIN numbering system.

Selecting the data standard to use often depends on your customer or the industry you are operating in. Some customers may mandate that you use a specific standard, and many industries have a mandated or de-facto standard in use to ensure interoperability.

Above are my key learnings of Part 1, but many more topics and details were discussed. Watch the webinar to learn more about each of the data standard families, including the structure of the different numbering systems and example use cases, as well as the basics of data security. Webinar part two dives deeper into the standard selection process and the specific advantages of the different standards.

Key Takeaways from Part 2

Label Manufacturing Process

The label manufacturing process includes three steps. In the first step, the IC is attached to the antenna, creating an inlay. In the second step, the inlays are converted in a common backing material called a liner, creating a blank label. In the third step, data is printed on and encoded into the label, creating a finished label.

While the process itself is simple, the manufacturing machines are quite complex. Watch the webinar to learn more ›

Encoding Equipment Types and Process

The suitable type of encoding equipment depends on the volume of tags that need to be encoded. The more sophisticated machines that can process high volumes at high speed naturally come with a higher cost.

An RFID reader can be used as an encoder but it is not an efficient permanent solution.

An RFID printer is purpose-built for encoding and is best suitable for small rolls and batches. They can be affordable and process up to some thousands of labels per hour.

High throughput personalization machines can take in larger rolls and process up to one hundred thousand tags per hour, but they also come with a higher cost.

And finally, encoding can also be integrated into product production or packaging lines.

Watch the webinar recording to dive deeper into the IC selection factors, encoding process steps, RAIN tag memory details, as well as tag locking and passwords – ensuring the right data is encoded in the right way.

The Personalization Process

The personalization process includes both printing data on the label and encoding the tags. The printed data can be the same data that’s in the RFID tag or include additional information. 

High throughput personalization lines often process labels in successive stations. Combining the print and encoding in a high-speed personalization process requires accurate triggering for all the steps and making sure the stations match the process flow.

An example of personalization stations in a high throughput personalization process.

Using an RFID printer for personalization is a good option for smaller-scale projects. An RFID printer prints the barcode and other designed details on the label as well as encodes and verifies the RAIN tag data.

Part 3: RAIN RFID Tag Selection and Sourcing

Learn the most important aspects of label selection and sourcing, including label specifications, supplier selection, and delivery format.