Paragon ID introduces RF energy-harvesting battery-less BLE and UWB

14th April 2023
Harry Fowle

Paragon ID has introduced a battery-less Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Ultra-Wideband (UWB) sensor technology featuring a 20m radio frequency (RF) energisation range, twice that of any other tags on the market. The company is now looking to engage with electronics manufacturers, IC design houses, chip manufacturers and solution providers to take this technology to market.

Doubling the energisation range of BLE and UWB tags translates into a four times larger area which can be covered by a single reader, providing a much faster return on investment.

This breakthrough follows the acquisition of the French company UWINLOC in January this year and builds on over seven years of development and 800,000 hours of field testing of the new energy harvesting technology.

Paragon ID now holds a set of over 20 patents covering innovations relating to energy harvesting, paper tags, UWB-specific signal modulation and complex location system algorithms.

BLE and UWB tracking technologies are popular choices for RTLS systems tracking items in indoor spaces, for example in warehouses or hospitals. Their implementation is, however, often hindered by the substantial cost of battery-powered tags.

Being able to use battery-less BLE or UWB tags substantially reduces the costs and effort involved in maintaining systems, which makes these technologies feasible for a much wider range of applications. At the same time, the impact on the environment is minimised as no batteries containing hazardous substances are used, helping companies stay in line with their sustainability targets.

Radio energy harvesting used on sensors and tracking tags has a wide range of valuable applications. Examples include temperature and humidity sensors to monitor cold chain logistics, shock sensors to check transport conditions, product authentication as well as widely used location tracking for inventory or asset management.

This new sensor technology complements Paragon ID’s RFID tag products and enhances its capabilities to deliver multi-technology tracking solutions through its RFiD Discovery subsidiary.

How do the energy harvesting tags work?

A specially developed chipset harvests energy from ambient RF waves, which are available as a result of Wi-Fi networks or standard RFID installations. In a commercial setting, this can easily be increased using additional energy sources where needed.

When a tag has collected enough energy, it transmits its identity and sensing data in an encrypted format to any listening BLE or UWB devices nearby. The information can then be collected in a central database.

This is possible thanks to pioneering technology which drastically reduces power consumption for the new tags by five to ten times, which means signals from tags can be sent with very little energy.

With additional investment in development, Paragon ID expects to be able to further extend the energisation range for commercial applications up to 30 metres within the next two to three years.

Konstantinos Lagios, CCO at Paragon ID, commented: “We are delighted to bring this revolutionary technology to market, which will not only take away some of the cost barriers of BLE and UWB implementations but also make them far more sustainable by eliminating the need for batteries.

“We look forward to working with new industry partners to bring this breakthrough development to our existing customers including those of our subsidiary RFiD Discovery as well as entering completely new markets including consumer applications. The uses for this technology are endless, and we are extremely excited about its future.”

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