UHF RFID tags with multiple sensors

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

Designed for industrial and manufacturing applications where it’s necessary to monitor data to ensure goods don’t fall outside of acceptable parameters, the ultrahigh frequency (UHF) RFID Sensor Tags enable environmental condition monitoring throughout the shipping journey, for example, of temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals or perishable products packed with dry ice.

Powercast offers two versions of its high-function RFID Sensor Tags:

  • The PCT100 enables battery-free wireless sensing and can read data within seconds.
  • The PCT200 adds a battery with the unique ability to recharge using any standard RFID reader’s field, making the tag reusable without plugging in or changing batteries. With up to one month of battery life without recharging, the PCT200 provides long-lasting data-logging capabilities while outside the RF field. Users can easily set its data read times from one minute to one hour.

The RFID Sensor Tags use Powercast’s patented RF-harvesting technology where the embedded Powerharvester receiver can generate power purely from a standard RFID reader.

An RFID reader generates an electromagnetic signal, which the Tag’s NXP UCODE RFID chip captures via its receiving antenna. Powercast’s efficient, RF-to-DC converter (50-75% conversion efficiency) then transforms the signal into energy to power the microcontroller and sensors for measuring environmental conditions. The microcontroller then forwards that data over I2C to NXP’s RFID chip for storage in user memory, which the reader can then read out of memory.

“We call it high-function RFID because these new passive RFID Sensor Tags have more than 10 times the operational power of standard passive RFID tags enabling advanced features and unparalleled computing power,” said Charles Greene, Powercast’s COO/CTO.


  •     EPC Class 1 Gen 2 compliant
  •     ISO/IEC 18000-6C compliant
  •     10 meter read range
  •     High accuracy sensors
  •     Wide RF range: -17dBm to +20dBm
  •     Frequency range: 860MHz to 960MHz
  •     “Find Tag” feature – enables locating one specific tag by illuminating on-board LED
  •     Temperature range: -40 to +85C
  •     Compact, convenient, hard case package
  •     RoHS compliant
  •     High conversion efficiency, up to 75%

The PCT100 and PCT200 can be configured with one, two or three sensors in any combination of temperature, humidity and light. The PCT100 can also be configured with an on-board LED for showing an RFID reader’s field strength and to verify that it is reading properly. Sample quantities with evaluation software are available from distributors Mouser, Arrow and Future Electronics. Large quantities will range from US$10 to $35 depending on configuration.