This is part four of a four-part series geared towards learning more about the Anechoic Chamber at Auburn University, the ARC program, and the Chamber’s testing process.
The RFID Lab at Auburn University is a research institute focusing on the business case and technical implementation of RFID and other emerging technologies in retail, supply chain, and manufacturing. RFID performance and quality testing has been a staple of the RFID Lab for years, and the Lab has pioneered most of the modern testing practices for RFID in retail. For more information on the RFID Lab at Auburn, click here.
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What is an Anechoic Chamber?
The anechoic chamber was custom designed to test RFID tags and products. It is 10 meters square, and covered with special cones that absorb radio waves in the 800 MHz to 1 GHz frequency range. There are 4 antennas focusing on the center of a rotating turntable where RFID tags and products are tested. The chamber is the center of the ARC program, and tests several new RFID tags and tagged items each day. The chamber captures more than 4 measurements per second up to 10 hours per day, this is over 100,000,000 measurements per year.
The ARC Program
The anechoic chamber tests new types of RFID tags each day. The ARC program is open source, and is the most commonly used RFID performance measurement system in the world. Most UHF RFID tags are tested and certified by Auburn before they are deployed in industries such as retail, aerospace, automotive, and manufacturing. Many RFID tag manufacturers design new tags to meet performance requirements developed with ARC. Over 125 anechoic chambers globally are calibrated to the master chamber at ARC in Auburn, making the ARC chamber the central pillar of RFID performance and benchmarking globally.
The ARC chamber is designed to test tagged items from the size of a postage stamp to the size of an entire pallet of product. The tagged item is scanned from multiple angles using the antenna system. It is then rotated to ensure that all sides and angles of the item are scanned. We can then determine if the item is tagged in the proper location, and the proper type of tag is used. The tagged items are tested against specifications captured in the outside world, and can be graded based on their performance. This item level performance testing and grading system was adopted as the TIPP program in the GS1 standards community. It is the basis for tagged item performance testing and grading globally.
For more information about Auburn’s RFID lab – stay tuned for the rest of the series or contact the lab!