NASA's Johnson Space Center has developed a suite of RFID-based technologies focused on improving communication of an RFID reader with a greater number of RFID tags in open and enclosed areas.

Current RFID readers working in open areas are limited by narrow bandwidth restrictions, resulting in relatively coarse ranging resolution and accuracy. Some of the currently available solutions, such as using larger antennas, often result in unacceptable cost, volume, aesthetics, and mass penalties. The Enhanced RFID Reader integrates a frequency multiplexer into the reader to improve communication by dramatically increasing the useful bandwidth between the reader and its associated RFID tags. As a result, the reader can communicate with a greater number of tags without having to increase required power or add more antennas.

A typical RFID reader is limited to a narrow bandwidth due to existing communication protocols between a single RFID reader and its corresponding set of RFID tags. The Enhanced RFID Reader is able to expand these boundaries by integrating an inexpensive frequency multiplexer to the RFID reader, which substantially improves the resolution and accuracy of the reader localization capabilities. For enclosed areas, such as a large container, the Enhanced RFID Reader can use fewer and smaller antennas, consequently reducing the volume required for an RFID system to operate.

A wide range of commercial applications can benefit from this technology. Retail inventory management reduces the footprint of the system to track inventory. In manufacturing/ assembly lines, the reader tracks and manages parts, tools, equipment, and personnel. It also tracks shipment of boxes and containers for trucking, shipping, air transport, and other types of freight. For sports bio-analysis, the system analyzes movement and position of players, limbs, joints, etc. and can track the position and location of medicines, supplies, patients, staff, and equipment.

This NASA technology is available for licensing. For more information about this technology, please contact the NASA Johnson Space Center Licensing Manager at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 281-483-3809. Follow this link here  for more information.


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This article first appeared in the December, 2019 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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