Chipless RFID tags show increasing application

03/07/2006


Cambridge, U.K. —Chipless RFID tags—those that do not contain a silicon chip—could eventually be printed directly on products and packaging for as little as 0.1 cent each, replacing trillions of barcodes with something more versatile and reliable, findings from a recent IDTechEx report indicate. The tags can be expected to experience a rapid gain in market share over the next 10 years, the study shows, adding that the numbers will rise dramatically from 5 million units in 2006 to 267 billion units by 2016, increasing market share from 0.4 to 45%.

“Chipless RFID forecasts, technologies, and players, 2006-2016” found that chipless tags will rapidly come to dominate the RFID market after 2016. The report said that, including infrastructure, software, and services, the market for chipless RFID systems should reach $2.8 billion by that time. However, the most technically capable chips (such as financial cards containing microprocessors and ultra-wide-band tags for real-time location systems) will continue to be made using silicon chips.

Analyzing study findings, Raghu Das, IDTechEx CEO, noted that RFID technology has ever-widening applications, but that the largest applications of the technology will occur only if tag prices drop to under one cent, including fitting them in place. Silicon chips, he notes, will always be too expensive to form the basis for more than a small proportion of the tags. The majority of highest volume RFID tags must be applied directly to products and packages as barcodes are today, he said.

Chipless tags are digitally encoded and work at more than one millimeter range. First- generation technologies did not meet open standards for use by many service products. However, second-generation, surface acoustic wave (SAW) tags are technically improved, lower in cost, can store sufficient data, and operate at frequencies used by conventional RFID chips. Chipless RFID can operate to more than a 10 m range with 256 bits of data. Tags can be materials based or consist of transistorless circuits. Transparent polymer transistor circuits are now available from Philips, PolyIC, OrganicID, and Motorola, among others.

IDTechEx specializes in RFID smart labels, smart packaging, and printed electronics and provides independent analysis on the development and application of products in these areas.

Click here for a detailed report overview.

For more on RFID market growth from Control Engineering, read “Explosive growth projected in next 5 years for RFID tags.”

—Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jeanine Katzel, senior editor, jkatzel@reedbusiness.com