Fraunhofer Institute Introduces Adjustable Multibeam Antenna for RFID Applications

RFID technology is a contactless technology which can be used to transmit a variety of information from an tag placed on a device. This technology has been widely used in the manufacturing, supply chain, logistics and retail industries. In retail it is used for security, in other industries it is used to track products.In cases that require high levels of object identification accuracy, a high-performance antenna is needed that is capable of capturing the information stored on the RFID transponders at any time.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS has developed a Multibeam Antenna for such challenging scanning scenarios. Thanks to its nine directional beams the antenna provides high levels of accuracy when capturing data from transponders within its flexible read range. At the same time, it optimizes the reliability of RFID systems. It can be integrated into existing systems and improve their reliability. The new multibeam antenna can read all RFID chips securely and reliably. Its areas of application lie in logistics and trade, such as customs inspections and transport or manufacturing processes.

The multibeam antenna is a programmable 2 x 2 group antenna with a feed network for RFID applications. It is so innovatively designed that it offers a higher reading rate than conventional reader antennas. The directional beam of the antenna can be adjusted individually in up to nine directions. This allows RFID transponders to be addressed and read in a targeted manner, also reducing collisions. The reading rate becomes faster and the probability of intercept becomes greater. This guarantees reliable reading of all transponders.

The 2 x 2 group antenna with integrated feed network allows up to nine beam alignments. This multibeam antenna is comprised of four emitters, which are right-handed circularly polarized. The associated feed network that actuates the four individual antennas is based on the principle of the 4 x 4 butler matrix. The complete system is built with microstrip lines and the network comprises Wilkinson power splitters, squaring hybrids, rat-race hybrids, and delay lines. The larger visible area and the option of synchronizing the nine active beams with the position of the pallet to the reading gate guarantee maximum reading rates with a low number of antennas.

Replacing standard antennas with the powerful Multibeam Antenna improves the accuracy of readings from RFID identification systems. Because the Multibeam Antenna can detect directional movement, it can distinguish, for example, between incoming and outgoing goods or between moving and stationary objects. This capability helps users of RFID systems to select which transponders to actually read.

In addition, the antenna is optimized for bulk reading, meaning it can scan multiple transponders concurrently. With metal objects or liquid containers, too, the Multibeam Antenna achieves high rates of data capture.

The antenna can be used in conjunction with standard readers and is easy to integrate into existing RFID systems. It is suitable for all ultra-high frequency applications and for both indoor and outdoor use. With its broadband frequency range of 860 to 960 MHz, the antenna meets international RFID standards and can be used worldwide. Switching to the Multibeam Antenna provides global companies with the opportunity to standardize their identification systems along the entire value chain.

Starting in August 2017, Multibeam Antennas from the first small-scale production batch will be available for pilot users to test its performance in practice. Pilot users also have the opportunity to actively shape the last stage of product tweaks in line with their requirements prior to the antenna’s market launch. Click here to learn more.