One of the main issues stopping RFID becoming all pervasive has been the cost of the software and hardware needed. On March 26th, I had a briefing with Tego, who have just released a new product, TegoDrive, which may be the answer to the cost conundrum.
Who are Tego?
Tego are a RFID solutions provider focused on high-memory applications that gather and store information on tagged assets. Based on their experience in the aviation industry, they have developed tags that can carry the entire life history maintenance records on aircraft parts wherever they go, accessible through any standard RFID reader. The company is based in Waltham, Massachusetts, USA and was founded in 2005. Timothy Butler, President and CEO of Tego explained "'Beyond ID' is Tego's theme of RFID achieving more than barcode applications. The standards, protocols and systems that support RFID are actually aspects of a powerful wireless communications network that can now be exploited for more than just identification."
What solutions do they provide?
A wide range of rugged industrial high-memory tags are available from Tego and its partners for many applications.
The TegoChip is available as three distinct product families, with memory size options of up to 32kBytes, and is fully interoperable with the UHF Gen 2 RFID infrastructure.
- XM product family provides high memory capabilities for applications, including record keeping and security.
- XL product family provides similar capabilities to the TegoChip XM, but with enhanced memory retention and the ability to survive harsh environments, including high temperatures and radiation.
- GW product family provides the capability to interface to sensors, controls and e-ink style displays, or for any application where the tag includes an interface to an external device such as a temperature sensor.
Tego Radion tags provide track and trace functionality for items that are exposed to radiation, including use in X-rays, gamma sterilization and nuclear applications.
The TegoChip XM family is the commercial grade version of technology used in aviation and other industries to store asset history information. Fully compatible with standard Gen 2 infrastructure, the chips can store not just an EPC identification code but also up to 32KBytes of user data. The tags are supplied to end users in the standard smart card size of 3.370" by 2.125" and are available as short range tags that operate at a few inches or as long range tags that can be read at ranges of a few feet.
Figure 1: Tego products (Source: Tego Inc)
Tego also offers kits for users considering several form factors. Tego Aviation Launch Kit is an "out of the box" solution for aviation companies adding RFID tags to flyable parts. It includes the reader, software and tags needed to start reading and writing ATA Spec 2000 records on tags.
TegoView is an "RFID solution platform" that runs on standard RFID readers and allows users to work directly with Gen 2 tags of any memory size. It allows users to initialize tags, write to user memory and display tag information in a user-friendly form. TegoView supports the new ATA standard for organising data in tag memory and provides preconﬁgured automatic reports for reader display.
Tego has established global partnerships and alliances with leading tag converters and systems integrators. In fact it is like looking at the great and good in the world of RFID and includes Intermec, OatSystems (a division of Checkpoint), Odin Technology, Caen, Sirit and ThingMagic (a division of Trimble).
The new announcement
On April 2nd, Tego announced a new product to their portfolio - TegoDrive. TegoDrive treats information stored on RFID tags as files and folders on the desktop. By installing the software on an end-user's desktop or handheld device, tasks such as adding new content to a tag are as simple as "save-as" or drag-and-drop. Butler stated, "TegoDrive eliminates the bottleneck and cost of customizing proprietary RFID reader applications to work with existing enterprise software. Microsoft Windows becomes the reader application program, and accessing RFID assets becomes a simple drag-and-drop extension of desktop computing. TegoDrive allows tag users to store and retrieve their own data, regardless of the format it is in, and to access tags using standard operating system commands already familiar to them."
Figure 2: Screenshot of TegoDrive in action (Source: Tego Inc)
TegoDrive is currently in beta testing with customers across multiple industries. The product will launch in kit form in April, including a third-party reader and TegoChip tags bundled for under $1,000 USD. A standalone software version of TegoDrive will also be offered with pricing comparable to typical office application software. A custom API will be available in the future to allow for reader and application integration.
Tego have been at the forefront of the development of memory technology on RFID tags. TegoDrive takes the ability to use RFID to solve business issues into another dimension. With a low cost of entry and the ease with which users can gain benefits due to the simplicity of its drag and drop and use of exiting business applications, this makes Tego and TegoDrive leaders in the next stage of RFID development.