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EM Microelectronic, trend-setter in fashion industry
26
Jan '08
EM Microelectronic, the semiconductor company of the Swatch Group announced that it has already shipped a cumulated amount of over 250 Million Tag-Talks-Only (TTO) UHF RFID chips. The largest part is used for the manufacturing of intelligent labels for garment tagging in the fashion industry.

Marks & Spencer uses it to improve their clothing in-store stock levels. Marks & Spencer's RFID initiative in apparel is known to be the world's largest item-level tagging project and thereby establishes EM's UHF chips as a de-facto standard in this field.

In many – if not most – logistics applications, which require the reading range and anti-collision performance offered by the UHF technology, the customers do not need more than a read-only tag also called licence-plate tag. The EM4X22 chip family used in the Marks & Spencer case fulfil exactly this requirement.

The tag itself stores only one number in a non-volatile memory; exactly this approach has actually been a primary tenet in the meanwhile famous MIT Auto-ID Lab document "Towards the 5¢ tag" . By requiring the tag to have nothing more than a reference code (e.g. an EPC code), we limit the memory on the chip and we reduce the minimum requirements of the system to read-only tags.

The general trend in UHF RFID today has however diverted towards a more complex approach with EPCglobal's Class 1 Gen 2 specification. "But it is exactly our low complexity, back-to-the-roots approach that made the success of EM's chips in the M&S project" says Marc Degrauwe, CEO of EM Microelectronic "Lower complexity requires less expensive production process and allows to offer very competitive pricing".

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