WOLLERAU, SWITZERLANDA radio-frequencyidentification (RFID) chip is promising to make it practical for companies to automatically track, monitor, time-stamp, and record information about goods in any supply-chain or cold-chain transport on land, sea, or sky. Such goods may range from expensive fragile components, medical goods, and pharmaceuticals to bags of bananas . This innovation in affordable, automatic data-logging RFID applications hails from IDS Microchip AG. Its IDS-SL13A smart active label chip, which is now sampling, is priced up to 10 times lower than existing RFID temperature-modules.

The IDS-SL13A is a passive/semi-passive tag chip that is optimized for single-cell, battery-powered smart labels with sensor functionality. It assigns a unique identity code to whatever is labeled. An eco-friendly battery (1.5 or 3 V) supports the integrated real-time clock and EEPROM memory to allow on-chip logging of data from the internal temperature sensor as well as other external sensors. The analog sensor interface allows the connection of an external sensor. The chip measures temperature with a 0.5C accuracy and logs it against real time. It also includes a serial-peripheral-interface (SPI) port to connect to external circuitry for display. This capability allows further communication with the chip and direct access to the EEPROM for the easy setting of parameters and functions. The chip supports an alarm system along with functions that calculate shelf life. It can check on and record unseen changes, such as extreme temperatures.

The IDS-SL13A also works in passive mode with no battery and without the real-time clock function. This approach is intended for applications in which a reader initiates the logging and the data is stored in the reader using an analogto- digital converter. The chip controls whether it takes data from internal or external sensors or both. Users can add other types of external sensors to allow packages to monitor shock control, humidity, or other factors.

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