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Powercast Joins RAIN RFID Alliance

05 June 2020

Powercast has joined the 160 global organisations in the RAIN RFID Alliance who share the goal of promoting the universal adoption of UHF RFID technology.

This global alliance aims to emulate the same success for RFID that the Wi-Fi Alliance and Bluetooth SIG have had in achieving universal adoption for their wireless standards.

RAIN RFID is a wireless technology that uses both handheld and fixed UHF RFID readers that are prevalent in industries around the globe to connect billions of everyday items to the internet. It enables businesses and consumers to identify, locate, authenticate and engage each item bearing an RFID tag or label.

Powercast’s Powerharvester RF-to-DC converter chips harvest RF from 10MHz to 6GHz, and bring new functionality to RAIN RFID systems. The Powerharvester PCC110 and PCC114 chips can harvest RF from existing UHF RFID readers and very efficiently (up to 80% efficiency) convert it to direct current (DC) to power applications over the air. RFID readers emit a similar RF signal to Powercast’s PowerSpot and Powercaster RF wireless power transmitters, enabling RAIN RFID to be another reliable source of RF wireless power.

A Powerharvester receiver chip embedded in an electronic paper display (EPD) tag such as a retail electronic shelf-edge label (ESL), an environmental sensing or logistics tag, or a secure ID card can harvest RF when it comes within range of a UHF RFID reader. 

That range is application dependent; most can function up to 30 feet (9 meters) from a reader, while some can work up to 80 feet (24 meters) away. RFID tag or label devices can be designed with batteries that Powercast either recharges or manages, or without batteries because an embedded Powerharvester chip can harvest enough power from UHF RFID readers to operate perpetually.

Several applications developed with partner E Ink and deployed over the last two years enable companies to use RFID infrastructure to wirelessly update E Ink’s ePaper screen over the air. These include ViewTag’s electronic bag tag, launched by British Airways in 2019 as TAG, which harvests RF from airport RFID equipment to refresh the ePaper screen with the passenger’s itinerary; and Powercast’s UHF RFID Retail Price Tag, a batteryless ESL launched in 2018 which harvests RF from retail RFID readers to send over-the-air price updates to its ePaper screen. More details are in E Ink and Powercast’s white paper, “Integrating wireless power technology into ePaper devices for carefree wireless charging:”

Other UHF RFID over-the-air wireless power applications include environmental monitoring, such as Powercast’s RFID Sensor Tags launched in 2017 which measure temperature, light and humidity; smart packaging with wirelessly illuminated LEDs; smart ID cards which electronically verify user credentials; logistics and advanced location tracking devices; and on-product sensing devices.

“We are delighted to join the RAIN RFID Alliance and look forward to a mutually beneficial collaboration,” said Charles Greene, Ph.D., chief operating and technical officer of Powercast. “RAIN provides an industry forum to promote the benefits of RFID technology and is driving awareness to accelerate growth and adoption across many industries.”

“The alliance welcomes Powercast to our growing membership,” said Steve Halliday, president of the RAIN RFID Alliance. “Powercast brings deep experience in defining and executing wireless power solutions to benefit our members, and will contribute to our mission of promoting RFID technology.”

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