A New Generation of RFID

Jan. 9, 2009
The third generation of active RFID is the the Ubiquitous Sensor Network (USN), which is sometimes referred to as the Wireless Sensor Network (WSN).

The first generation of active radio frequency identification (RFID) was the conventional battery-powered active RFID. As Peter Harrop, chairman of research and analyst firm IDTechEx, explains, the power source enables the tag to initiate a signal, give longer range, manage a sensor or otherwise improve on the capability of a passive (non-battery-powered) RFID tag. Second generation active RFID is what's known as a real-time locating system (RTLS), Harrop continues, "where people or things are located almost continuously from 30-300 meters away, usually by using many emitters. These are in the very rapid takeoff phase after the usual slow start with new technologies."

Today, however, there is also a third generation of active RFID, Harrop explains -- the Ubiquitous Sensor Network (USN), which is sometimes referred to as the Wireless Sensor Network (WSN). "The USN is characterized by the tag doubling as a reader and a so-called mesh network being used with a choice of sensors on each tag. It may be limited to 30 meters range and the tag may be rather like active RFID tags from ten years ago, even using AAA batteries, but this capability is still notable because it can make systems scalable, self-healing, affordable and extraordinarily capable."

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Dave Blanchard | Senior Director of Content

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During his career Dave Blanchard has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. He also serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2010), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its second edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

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