Wireless Applications

G2 Micro Promises to Reduce Asset Tracking Costs with Wi-Fi RFID

March 29, 2006

New system-on-a-chip leverages the ubiquitous IEEE 802.11 infrastructure, and claims 75% lower total cost of ownership.


CAMPBELL, Calif. /PRNewswire/ -- G2 Microsystems Inc., a developer of integrated circuits for the Mobile Resource Management (MRM) market, today announced an ultra low-power, active radio frequency identification (RFID) System-on-a-Chip (SoC) that leverages the widely- deployed Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11) network infrastructure. By using this existing infrastructure, G2 Microsystems' SoC enables businesses to install asset tracking systems at a fraction of the cost of today's solutions resulting in at least a 75% reduction in total cost of ownership. Additionally, the chip's integrated support for multiple location technologies and environmental sensing coupled with ultra low-power consumption enables a new class of tags that will open the door for global MRM services in many enterprise applications.

Mobile resource management is a fast-growing market that uses RTLS to track and monitor assets both inside and outside of facilities. The Yankee Group forecasts the global RTLS market will grow to $1.6B by 2010, fueled by deployments in healthcare, manufacturing and logistics.

"Today, many of these systems rely on proprietary technology which requires significant expenditures in new infrastructure, back-office integration, data management, and process redesign," said Marcus Torchia, Senior Analyst. "G2 Microsystems' SoC tag has all the correct elements to help drive down the cost of RTLS solutions so that more businesses can benefit from tracking and monitoring assets across their supply chain."

"The majority of asset tracking solutions to date are built on proprietary infrastructures requiring a multi-million dollar investment to deploy a pilot," said John Gloekler, Chief Executive Officer and President of G2 Microsystems. "By integrating Wi-Fi with active RFID technology and sensors into a ultra low-power SoC, we have provided companies with a cost-effective asset tracking solution that enables them to achieve real-time inventory visibility across their entire supply chain."

Targeted at the RTLS market, G2 Microsystems' G2C501 Wi-Fi Active RFID SoC is a very flexible solution that enables a broad range of customer types to tailor systems to their specific application at a very low total cost of ownership. The chip is currently being incorporated into leading RTLS solutions including those from Ekahau and PanGo Networks. These solutions could be used in:

  • Hospitals, to track patients, wheelchairs, diagnostic equipment, staff, and patients' files
  • Transportation, to monitor the location, security, and environmental conditions of valuable assets
  • Container ports, to track the location of containers and trailers
  • Auto-manufacturing plants, to track vehicles during production
  • Oil refineries, to locate staff during emergencies
  • Mining, to accurately track real-time movements of miners
"G2 Microsystems' system-on-a-chip represents an exciting step forward in the market for standards-based asset tracking tags and RTLS solutions, and reinforces that proprietary or quasi-standard approaches are unnecessary. We are pleased to be working with G2 Microsystems as the partner-of-choice for our next generation tag," said Mike McGuinness, President and CEO of PanGo Networks, the leading provider of asset tracking applications and the PanOS(R) Location Management Platform.

"We have been working closely with G2 Microsystems and look forward to taking advantage of this technology in our next-generation asset tags," said Antti Korhonen, President and CEO of Ekahau, a leader in Wi-Fi-based RTLS solutions.

G2C501 Advantages: Low TCO, Low Power Consumption, Multiple Location Technologies
The G2C501 is a highly integrated, ultra low-power solution specifically designed for active RFID applications. Operating globally on the 2.4 GHz band, the G2C501 uses the Wi-Fi 802.11 compliant PHY/MAC standard to reduce the total cost of ownership of a RTLS solution by at least 75% over proprietary solutions. A tag incorporating the G2C501 SoC can determine its location and communicate via the Wi-Fi infrastructure, enabling a business to install an asset tracking solution with almost no additional network costs. Since a tag can access the Internet through a local access point, it can communicate with a location server placed anywhere on the Internet, enabling the asset's location and condition to be tracked as it moves through business partners and suppliers to customers.

"This is about the most exciting computing platform I've seen in years because it demonstrates Wi-Fi's unrealized potential. G2 Microsystems provides an existence proof that we don't need a new infrastructure for wireless sensor nets and raises the question of ZigBee's necessity and viability. I predict it will be used for many new applications beyond commerce," said Gordon Bell.

G2 Microsystems is the first company to develop an integrated circuit architecture that meets the demanding power requirements of active asset tracking tags. By doing so, the company has lowered the power consumption of active asset tracking tags by two orders of magnitude, significantly increasing the tag's battery life. For example, a tag based on the G2C501 will last 5 years at a 40-second report rate with two AA batteries. Current tags with the same configuration are only lasting a few months.

"We are pleased to see a semiconductor solution designed from the ground up for location tracking, that fully takes advantage of the installed Wi-Fi infrastructure. We believe that G2 Microsystems' highly integrated solution will enable lower cost asset tags and that the targeted battery life will open up new markets," said Ben Gibson, director, product and technology marketing, Cisco's Wireless Networking Business Unit.

The G2C501 has integrated support for multiple location technologies, allowing end customers to utilize the one that meets their accuracy, environment and cost requirements, all with the same tag. Utilizing the integrated ISO 24730-2 emerging standard, customers can track assets to within 3 meters; the 125 kHz signpost technology allows customers to determine location with a high degree of accuracy; and the integrated EPC support allow the tag to operate as a passive RFID tag.

Sensor interfaces integrated into the G2C501 enable it to monitor multiple types of asset conditions, including temperature, humidity, pressure, chemical, security seals, motion, shock, light, and radiation. These parameters can be monitored continuously and stored on-chip until an AP connection becomes available. This level of functional integration eliminates almost all external circuitry, resulting in tags with small form factors and low total bill-of-materials.

G2C501 Evaluation Kit
G2 Microsystems is offering customers a G2C501 evaluation kit that allows designers to quickly prototype and test active RFID applications, evaluate sensor input, and develop tag software. The kit contains an evaluation board, sensors for temperature and motion, antennas for the 2.4GHz ISM band, the ~900MHz EPC bands and for the 125 KHz magnetic receiver, documentation and G2 Microsystems development software.

Pricing and Availability
The G2C501 Wi-Fi Active RFID SoC is available today in sample quantities. The chip is housed in a QFN-72 pin package and is priced at $12 each in high- volume quantities.

About G2 Microsystems
G2 Microsystems designs and markets ultra low-power, active MRM system-on- a-chip ICs that provide active asset tracking leveraging existing wireless IEEE 802.11 network infrastructures. Our SoCs significantly reduce the Total Cost of Ownership of deploying global asset tracking systems so that businesses can achieve greater utilization of their mobile assets and improve operational efficiencies.

G2 Microsystems is a privately-held semiconductor company, with headquarters in the U.S. and research and development based in Australia. Major investors in the company include Siemens Venture Capital, UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund, Starfish Ventures and DB Capital Partners, the private equity and venture capital arm of Deutsche Asset Management (Australia) Ltd.


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