Although RFID in retail apparel is showing dramatic growth, the three billion tags expected to be used in 2014 fall far short of the 40 billion clothing and accessory items that could eventually be tagged each year.
This week Impinj announced a new chip intended to accelerate RFID adoption. The Monza R6 tag chip is expected to drive high-volume applications in retail stores and supply chains by combining breakthrough features with unprecedented read range and write speed.
Nikhil Deulkar, Monza product marketing director at Impinj, says that the new chip is the world’s fastest, requiring only 1.6 milliseconds to encode 32 bits of memory. By using Impinj’s STP Source Tagging Platform, service bureaus can encode Monza R6 at a blistering 9,500 tags per minute.
Monza R6 chip samples are currently available; most inlay vendors expect that tags using the new chip will become available in the second half of 2014. Monza R6 tag chip prices will equal those of current Monza 5 chips in similar volume.
“The innovative features we included in Monza R6 arose from discussions with our customers and end users throughout the supply chain,” said William Colleran Ph.D., Impinj’s president and CEO. “With Monza R6, we deliver unique benefits to each layer in the retail value chain, and those benefits make for a revolutionary product that will fuel market growth.”
According to Deulkar, the Monza R6 chip boasts the industry’s best read sensitivity, measured at –22.1 dBm, and delivers 25 percent longer read range than existing RFID tags, resulting in faster and more accurate inventory-taking. This enables retailers to deploy smaller tags for rapidly emerging tagging sectors like like jewelry and cosmetics, and supports advanced usage models including full-time, hands-free data capture.
“In addition to its superior performance, Monza R6 is packed with revolutionary new features such as our AutoTune, Integra and Enduro technologies, all designed to enable RFID applications to scale to the next era of tens of billions of tags per year,” says Deulkar.
The Monza R6 chips leverage Impinj’s patented AutoTune technology to dramatically improve inlay responsiveness by automatically and continually re-tuning their on-chip radios to compensate for changing environmental conditions, including the effects of nearby materials like fabrics, packaging and fixtures.
As a result, retailers can expect more consistent and predictable inventory-taking results than inlays based on other ICs. The flexibility derived from AutoTune technology also simplifies RFID tagging for retail brand owners and SKU management for tag vendors. Because AutoTune enables very efficient antennas, inlay manufacturers can now offer high-performance, small-form-factor tags while reducing material and manufacturing costs.
As the industry scales to tens of billions of tagged items per year and businesses increasingly rely on RFID in their daily operations, the integrity of data encoded in RFID tags must be verifiable throughout the supply chain. Monza R6 tag chips include Impinj’s Integra technology, a suite of diagnostic tools that give retailers the ability to verify the reliability of encoded data anywhere in the supply chain
Finally, Enduro Technology — a breakthrough die-attach method for constructing high-quality RFID inlays — replaces traditional bumps with large copper pads on the Monza R6 chip surface for bonding to an inlay antenna. This large-surface-area bond improves the robustness of tag performance by increasing tolerance to variability of inlay manufacturing parameters, such as die placement accuracy and curing pressure, all while increasing the strength and durability of the final product. As a result, Enduro significantly improves yields when converting and encoding tags through printers.