Power source system for RF location/identification tags
A radio frequency identification (RFID) device includes a communication arrangement which receives data from and/or sending data to a data processing unit via a wireless communication. In addition, the RFID device includes a solar cell/panel which provides power for the RFID device.
Priority is claimed to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/128,730 Apr. 22, 2002 2004 “Power Source System for RF Location/Identification Tags”. The entire disclosure of this prior application is considered as being part of the disclosure of the accompanying application and is hereby expressly incorporated by reference herein.
Radio Frequency (“RF”) device, such as RF identification device, has become an important implementation of an Automatic Identification technique. The object of any RF system is to carry data suitable transponders, generally known as tags, and to retrieve data, by machine-readable means, at a desired time and place to satisfy particular application needs.
Data within a tag may provide identification for an item in manufacture, goods in transit, a location, the identity of a vehicle, an animal, individual, etc. Additional data may be provided for supporting applications through item specific information or instructions immediately available on reading the tag. For example, the color of paint for a car body entering a paint spray area on the production line, the set-up instructions for a flexible manufacturing cell or the manifest to accompany a shipment of goods. In other cases, information may be obtained, indirectly, merely by observing the characteristics of the tags' transmissions—signal strength, multipath delay profile, or time of arrival, for example. RF technologies vary widely in frequency, packaging, performance, and cost.
Communications of data between the tag 10 and the arrangement 2 may be performed using a wireless communication technology. Two methods distinguish and categorize RF systems: a first method is based upon close proximity electromagnetic or inductive coupling; and a second method is based upon propagating electromagnetic waves. Coupling is via ‘antenna’ structures 4, 12 forming an integral feature in both the tag 10 and the arrangement 2. While the term “antenna” is generally considered more appropriate for propagating systems, it is also loosely applied to inductive systems.
Transmitting data is subject to the influences of the media or channels through which the data has to pass, including the air interface. Noise, interference and distortion are the sources of data corruption that arise in practical communication channels that must be guarded against in seeking to achieve error free data recovery. The nature of the data communication processes requires attention to the form in which the data is communicated. Structuring the bit stream to accommodate these needs is often referred to as channel encoding and, although transparent to the user of an RF system, the coding scheme applied appears in system specifications. Various encoding schemes can be distinguished, each exhibiting different performance features.
To transfer data efficiently via the air interface or space that separates the two communicating components requires the data to be superimposed upon a rhythmically varying (sinusoidal) field or carrier wave. This process of superimposition is referred to as modulation, and various schemes are available for this purposes, each having particular attributes that favor its use.
RF tags may be either active or passive. A passive tag has a limited utilization (e.g., a theft prevention device in a store). On the other hand, an active tag may provide a plurality of data which can be modified.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a radio frequency (“RF”) device (e.g., an RF tag) which includes a communication arrangement and an input arrangement. The communication arrangement sends and/or receives data. The RF device obtains power from the target device through the input arrangement. Thus, the RF device according to the present invention is provided with a viable alternative to a full reliance on a stand alone battery.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
According to present invention, a radio frequency (“RF”) device, such as an active RF tag is adapted to obtain power from a viable alternative to a full reliance on a stand alone battery. The active RF tag may be able to receive and transmit RF signals using a plurality of wireless local area network (“WLAN”) communication standards (e.g., IEEE 802.1x). The power may be obtained from a variety of sources, for example, direct, in-line, inductive and/or solar power sources which are described in detail below.
Examples of products which enable such tags are laptops, personal digital assistance (PDAs), medical equipment, etc. These devices generally have the type of connections described above. Thus, a RF device such as exemplary device 22 may acquire power from the target device (e.g., laptop , PDA) via the appropriate connection. In this manner, the power supply of the target device does not need to be disturbed. Those of skill in the art will understand that some minor modifications of the target device software may be needed to activate the port or connection where the RF tag 10a is connected.
Those skilled in the art would understand the above described alternative power sources for the RF tags may be utilized in addition to a conventional battery. For example, the tag 10c may utilize the power from both a battery and the inductive power generated from the clamp 40. The indicative power may directly serve the tag 10c or recharge the battery.
The devices according to the present invention may be utilized in various industries. For example, such devices may be utilized in a health care industry. The RF tags may be attached to a number of medical devices which move around a hospital. Having such tags allows the hospital to manage and track its equipment. At the same time, having such alternative power sources, allows the hospital to significantly reduces the maintenance cost associated with such tags because one of the above described tags may be utilized for any piece of hospital's equipment.
Another example of utilization of the present invention is in a retail industry. For instance, devices with the above described RF tags may be used as “proximity sensors”. A particular supermarket may have a location tracking system which allows it to determine the location of shoppers. Thus, when a shopper approaches a particular area, e.g., a frozen food section, a personalized coupon on frozen dinners is offered to that shopper to entice him/her to make a purchase. Such may be achieve by placing RF tags as beacons in every section of the supermarket. The shopper may have a tag which reflects the beacon information (e.g., a preferred customer card) or RF equipment to receive the beacon information (e.g., PDA). The cost and time for maintenance of a such system may be reduced when these beacons/proximity sensors use the alternative power source as described above.
Thus, the present invention provides an alternative to stand-alone batteries. The alternatives include the reduction of the load on the tag's internal supplies, the discarding of internal sources entirely, a method of recharging the tag's batteries during normal, everyday usage, etc.
There are many modifications to the present invention which will be apparent to those skilled in the art without departing from the teaching of the present invention. The embodiments disclosed herein are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to describe the bounds of the present invention which is to be limited only by the scope of the claims appended hereto.
1. A radio frequency identification (RFID) device, comprising:
- a communication arrangement at least one of receiving data from and sending data to a data processing unit via a wireless communication; and
- a solar cell/panel providing power to the communication arrangement.
2. The RFID device according to claim 1, further comprising:
- a rechargeable battery providing power to the RFID device, the battery being recharged by power from the solar/cell panel.
3. The RFID device according to claim 1, further comprising:
- a memory storing the data.
4. The RFID device according to claim 1, wherein the RFID device is removably coupled to a target device.
5. The RFID device according to claim 4, wherein the data is sent independent of any operation of the target device.
6. The RFID device according to claim 1, wherein the data processing unit is included in an RFID reader.
7. The RFID device according to claim 1, wherein the data processing unit is separate from an RFID reader and receives the data via a connection to the RFID reader.
8. The RFID device according to claim 7, wherein the connection is a wired connection.
9. The RFID device according to claim 7, wherein the data processing unit is a server.
10. The RFID device according to claim 1, wherein the data identifies at least one of itself and the target device.
11. The RFID device according to claim 1, further comprising:
- an input device coupled to a power supply of a target device separate from the RFID device, wherein the RFID device obtains power from the power supply through the input arrangement.
12. A system, comprising:
- a data processing unit;
- a radio frequency identification (RFID) device separate from the data processing unit, the RFID device including a communication arrangement and a solar cell/panel, the RFID device at least one of sending data to and receiving data from the data processing unit via the communication arrangement, the RFID device obtaining power from the solar cell/panel.
13. The system according to claim 12, wherein the RFID device includes a rechargeable battery providing power to the RFID device and being recharged by power from the solar/cell panel.
14. The system according to claim 12, wherein the RFID device includes a memory arrangement storing the data.
15. A radio frequency identification (RFID) device, comprising:
- a power supply means for supplying power to the RFID device; and
- a communication means for wirelessly sending data to a data processing means.
16. The RFID device according to claim 15, wherein the power supply means includes a scavenging means for scavenging power from a power supply of a separate device.
17. The RFID device according to claim 15, wherein the power supply means includes a generator means for generating power from light energy.
18. The RFID device according to claim 15, further comprising:
- a power storage means.
19. The RFID device according to claim 15, further comprising:
- a memory means for storing the data.
20. The RFID device according to claim 15, further comprising:
- a processing means for one of generating the data and altering the data.
International Classification: H04B 1/38 (20060101); H04M 1/00 (20060101);