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EM Microelectronic Uses RFID Technology to Link Distinct Objects

Wed, 10/18/2006 - 11:36am
EM Microelectronic, the semiconductor company of the Swatch Group, has successfully implemented a number of projects where physical objects are logically bound or "paired" together using RFID technology. This means that new RFID applications are emerging outside of traditional transportation, access control and animal identification markets. In pairing applications, more so than other RFID projects, there is no "one size fits all" solution. A leader in the RFID industry for more than 17 years, EM Microelectronic has an impressive track record of successful implementations in every major RFID frequency band. Following a "fit for function" approach, EM Microelectronic provides solid expertise and delivers standards compliant or highly optimized chip sets, with advanced packaging options tailored to the customer's specific needs.

New RFID application patterns
Pairing applications rely on passive RFID communication enabled by readers and transponders. In the case of smart refills, where RFID communication takes place at each usage, low-cost solutions rely on an optimized reader/transponder chip set. RFID-enabled smart refills can also increase safety in medical or health appliances and devices by increasing control of proper usage time, expiration dates, doses, medication type, etc. The pre-pairing application can work for any type of electronic device along the manufacturing or distribution chain that requires a batteryless and contactless EEPROM-based configuration scheme.

Two examples illustrate the advantage of pairing application patterns, and are comparable to custom specific projects EM Microelectronic is currently solving for customers.

Smart refills – Inkjet printers
The first category of pairing applications is smart refills. The goal of smart refills is to match disposable or refill parts with the corresponding consumer electronic device, such as toner or ink cartridges for printers, tools for kitchen machines or any other domestic electrical appliance with replaceable parts.
In the case of inkjet printers, usually one ink cartridge model fits different printer models. And, one printer model could also work with various cartridge types: black ink or color, different resolutions, ink qualities or quantities. An RFID-enabled cartridge can communicate its identity and parameters to the printer, so the printer could adapt its performance. Furthermore, a cartridge could notify the printer about remaining ink level or usage history, because this information would be stored in the cartridge itself.

Pre-pairing – Wireless devices
Another category of pairing applications is pre-pairing wireless devices to automatically recognize each other. This type of pairing is the reason that a Bluetooth headset is not affected by another person’s similar headset. Pairing of wireless devices usually happens by means of a discovery and authentication process; a user-driven step often perceived as cumbersome by the consumer. With the help of a tiny, dual-interface RFID circuit integrated in each device and acting as a serial EEPROM, a manufacturer can easily pre-pair each device set with the necessary wireless parameters during or after packaging. The consumer can immediately start using the device, making the user-driven pairing procedure obsolete. This process can be performed without having to plug in the device batteries.

About EM Microelectronic
EM Microelectronic is a semiconductor manufacturer designing and producing ultra low power, low voltage, digital, analog and mixed-signal integrated circuits (ICs) for battery-operated and field-powered devices in consumer, automotive and industrial applications. RFID chips feature read/write, anti-collision, 125kHz, 13.56MHz, UHF and 2.45GHz operation for applications in security and access control, animal ID, logistics and immobilization in automotive. Other products include microprocessor supervisors and reset ICs, microcontrollers, smart card ICs, mixed analog and digital gate arrays, ASICs, LCD drivers and displays and optoelectronic ICs. EM also produces (LCD) modules and offers bumping services.

EM Microelectronic is one the electronic systems companies within the Swatch Group, developing and producing ultra-low power, miniaturized and accurate microelectronic components and systems. Additional company and product information is available at www.emmicroelectronic.com.
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