RFID sparks investment

Blue Spark Technologies has completed a $5m funding round to support the ramp-up of its carbon-zinc batteries for RFID applications.


Blue Spark Technologies, the Westlake, Ohio-based designer and manufacturer of thin, flexible printed batteries, has completed a $5m (£3m) funding round to support the ramp-up of its carbon-zinc batteries for RFID applications.


Funding sources include existing Blue Spark investors Early Stage Partners and SunBridge Partners, as well as several additional private investors.


The batteries will be used in battery-assisted passive RFID systems that are scheduled to ship in the fourth quarter of 2009.


According to Blue Spark president and chief executive officer, Gary R Johnson, systems integrators and end users have now become aware of a number of applications for which passive UHF RFID systems did not provide adequate read range or reliability, and where active RFID was simply too expensive.


The company said that battery-assisted passive RFID systems can extend the range of conventional passive RFID systems well beyond their present capacity for a relatively low cost. From a price/performance point of view, it said that battery-assisted RFID can effectively fill the gap between conventional passive RFID and more costly active RFID.


What is more, it added that battery-assisted passive RFID can be used in real-time locating system (RTLS) type applications, using the latest in reader technology from companies such as RF Controls and Mojix.


Johnson said: ‘With battery-assisted operation, the performance of UHF RFID systems dramatically improve, while the cost remains a small fraction of active. We are confident that the new price/performance point for battery-assisted RFID will lead to numerous high-volume users. We are especially pleased to see the demand for our batteries take-off as initial battery-assisted passive projects move from development into production later this year.’


Blue Spark Technologies originally developed its thin printed batteries with technology licensed from Energizer (formerly the Eveready Battery Company). The company is now working closely with global business partners to develop wristbands, RFID tags and ‘smart cards’ for use in a range of industries.