Tech breakthrough: Omni-ID takes patented passive RFID to harsh environments

Omni-ID was spun off last year from defense and security technology supplier QinetiQ to commercialize high-performance, passive UHF RFID solutions in harsh environments. The company is involved in numerous pilots, including one with Metro Group, a diversified retail and wholesale/cash-and-carry corporation based in Germany, for a cold storage facility; and Honda in the U.K., for automotive parts.
By Manufacturing Business Technology Staff March 27, 2008

Omni-ID was spun off last year from defense and security technology supplier QinetiQ to commercialize patented technology for high-performance, passive UHF RFID solutions in harsh environments. The company is involved in numerous pilots, including one with Metro Group , a diversified retail and wholesale/cash-and-carry corporation based in Germany, for a cold storage facility; and Honda in the U.K., for automotive parts. Omni-ID also partners with IBM, Alien Technology, Impinj, and Motorola.
One of the big challenges with RFID is working in harsh environments involving liquids and metals, which detunes tags and compromises the read, says Tom Pavela, CEO and president of Omni-ID. “There are ways of getting around that, many involving larger form factors or more fabrication with materials, which drives up the cost for the end user. Our technology makes the passive UHF tags work very well in such environments, and is cost-efficient.”
Price-point was one of the reasons Omni-ID targeted the passive RFID market.
“We believed the biggest opportunity was in passive,” says Pavela, citing environments where metal and liquids are prevalent. One of the key industry sectors Omni-ID targets is data centers, he adds, “where we’ve seen a lot of traction because of the nature of the high-value, high-risk assets. We’ve completed a pilot with Metro Group in one of its large cold storage facilities, where there’s a lot of metal with racks and forklifts. Metro Group wanted to track material inside its distribution center with a high-performance tag at reasonable cost.”
Under such conditions, Omni-ID tags provide 99.99-percent read accuracy and reliability. Its tags have a small footprint and can be placed on virtually any surface. Applications in information technology, telecommunications, industrial and retail industries are on tap.