"Innovation to drive improved performance typically follows after technologies mature and become increasingly more commoditized," according to Gary Johnson, Blue Spark president and CEO. "That's what's happening now with RFID. For many high-value applications, battery assisted passive effectively bridges the price/performance gap that exists between pure passive UHF and active RFID, and does so with far less complexity and expense."
Battery Assisted Passive (BAP) RFID tags offer many of the same advantages of active tags, but at a significantly lower cost. Most new BAP tags coming onto the market are fully compatible with the existing Gen2 RFID architecture, which lowers the cost of integration vs. that of existing active systems. And, with a relatively simple architecture, BAP RFID tags can be manufactured in high volumes using conventional printing processes, and their small form factor makes integration relatively easy compared to active RFID.
BAP tag characteristics make them a cost-effective and practical choice for many applications in which users can realize time, cost and visibility benefits including:
- Manufacturing and Supply Chain: Inventory management and asset tracking of parts, materials, work-in-process or finished goods in factories, warehouses and distribution centers can increase accuracy and visibility, while reducing labor time and cost and minimizing waste.
- Asset Management. Tracking and tracing of assets, such as reusable pallets and containers, tools and equipment, computers and other IT hardware, or essential files and documents, can save time and costs, improve asset control, and minimize loss and theft.
- Healthcare, Security and Public Safety. ID badges or wristbands can be used to track the whereabouts of people in secure buildings, health care and medical facilities, at large public events and disaster management/evacuation sites.
- Retail. "Smart case" and "smart shelf" systems can help reduce shrinkage due to misplaced merchandise or theft, and can also help retailers improve inventory accuracy to minimize overstocks and out-of-stocks.
Market Predicts Billions in Demand from BAP
Johnson's view is echoed by several industry analysts. Virginia-based NanoMarkets projects that RFID applications will be the dominant thrust in the thin-film and printed battery market, generating $4.6 billion by 2015, primarily because of the batteries' relatively low cost, high-volume availability, and proven ability to improve RFID performance.
Battery assisted passive (BAP) RFID tags, also known as semi-passive tags, typically include a small, eco-friendly, carbon-zinc battery to boost RF signal strength, resulting in longer read ranges and faster reads than pure passive RFID. The batteries can also improve read accuracy and reliability in difficult or challenging environments, such as those involving densely packed liquids or metals. Active RFID tags require a more powerful battery and are significantly larger and more expensive to manufacture and deploy, making them impractical for most auto-ID, security, asset tracking, manufacturing and supply chain compliance applications.
About Blue Spark Technologies
Blue Spark Technologies, Inc. is the leader in developing flexible, printed, "green," proprietary power source solutions for battery-powered printed electronic systems. The company was founded as Thin Battery Technologies in 2002 with patented technology and technical leadership from Energizer (Eveready Battery Company). Blue Spark customers include manufacturers, product designers, and integrators across multiple industries including: interactive packaging, RFID, pharmaceutical, powered smart cards, and novelty items. Users of products powered by Blue Spark batteries enjoy increased efficiency, greater convenience and portability, improved safety, lower manufacturing and assembly costs, higher profit margins, and greater environmental responsibility.