Small Antennas: Miniaturization Techniques and ApplicationsView this Special Issue
Research Article | Open Access
Small-Size Wearable High-Efficiency TAG Antenna for UHF RFID of People
This paper introduces a small-size, low-profile wearable radiator based on the coupled patches and vertically folded patches techniques for application as a tag antenna for identification of people in the European UHF RFID band. The electric field distribution comes out dominantly from the central coupling slot, and thus the electric properties of the radiator are almost unaffected by the human body to which the antenna is intended to be attached. Accordingly, with the relative size at 866 MHz mm3), the antenna exhibits total efficiency better than 50%, even if it is attached directly to a person.
Modern body area network (BAN) communication systems [1–5] and also radiofrequency identification systems (RFID) [6–12] require small-size, low-weight, inexpensive radiators, which can be easily integrated into electronic devices or, for example, on human clothes.
The coupled patches technique, introduced and employed in [13–15], developed especially for screening the influence of the human body, enables the design of wearable antennas with an extremely low profile (typically lower than 0.003 ) and at the same time sufficient radiation efficiency typically better than 50%. This is a significantly better value than the radiation efficiency of the common half or quarter wavelength patch antenna of the same size and height . However, this technique does not enable the resonant length of the antenna to be smaller than approximately 0.3 . Thus, further miniaturization of antenna footprint size is a challenge for researchers.
Capacitive loading of a shorted patch antenna and its generalization, a vertically folded patch technique, which enables a half or quarter wavelength patch antenna to be minimized by means of repeat folding of the patch cavity, was presented in [17, 18]; see Figure 1.
In this paper, we present a novel small-size high-efficient UHF RFID tag antenna of overall electrical size combining both of the techniques mentioned above. The coupled patches technique, which excites the maximum electric field magnitude in the central coupling slot, enables high radiation efficiency to be achieved with a very low profile, together with good immunity from the human body as opposite sides are formed by metallic walls (see Figure 1(b)), which reduce the interaction of electric field with the base material. At the same time, the vertically folded patches technique enables a smaller footprint size of the structure to be achieved together with an acceptable increase in antenna height.
2. Design, Realization, and Measurement
Figure 2 depicts a sketch and a photograph of the manufactured vertically folded coupled patches UHF RFID antenna. The antenna is manufactured on a low-permittivity substrate Taconic RF-30 with and loss tangent . The total size of the proposed antenna is mm3, which gives a relative size of at 866 MHz; that is, , where is the diameter of the sphere completely circumscribing the antenna, including the mirror currents. The antenna is fed by the NXP G2X2 RFID chip with input impedance and power sensitivity −15 dBm. The weight of the antenna is approximately 15 g.
The performance properties of the antenna were verified in a monopole-type arrangement  in order to avoid the use of a balun situated between the antenna and the coaxial connector; see Figure 3. The monopole-type input impedance then accounts for a half of the value compared to the dipole-type impedance. Consequently, is considered for further evaluation (where ).
The transmission coefficient (see Figure 4) between the antenna and the chip input impedance was evaluated from the standard reflection coefficient measurement. The measurement was performed with and without a human body phantom (manufactured from agar with and of mm3 size) which was enclosed directly in the back of the antenna.
The above-mentioned monopole-type arrangement enables us to measure the radiation and the total efficiencies by the Wheeler cap method . A cap size of mm3 was used. The simulation was performed in a full arrangement, according to Figure 2(a). The measurement was performed with and without the human body phantom; see Figures 5, 6 and Table 1. Very good immunity from the phantom as well as sufficient radiation and total efficiency can be observed at operation frequency 866 MHz.
3. Read Range and Identification Tests
In order to evaluate the performance of the TAG antenna in real operational conditions, read range tests were performed with transmitted power of 30 dBm and standard 8 dBi reader antennas, which gives 6.3 W of effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP). The tag antenna with the chip was fixed at a height of 1.3 m in free space and on a person’s chest over about 2 mm thin shirt. The standard commercial RFID system (see Table 2) was used for the evaluation of the read distance as well as the reliability of person identification in corridors.
The read range evaluated in 4 m width corridor in a free space is 7.5 m, and for the antenna attached to a human chest the read range is 7.0 m; see Figure 7. The read range evaluated in 2 m width corridor in a free space is 11 m, and for the antenna attached to a human chest the read range is 9.7 m; see Table 3.
A novel small footprint size and extremely low profile wearable antenna based on a combination of coupled patches and vertically folded patches techniques has been introduced, and a sample has been developed for European UHF RFID band. The size of the tag antenna without a chip was mm3, which is at 866 MHz. The antenna exhibits total efficiency better than 50%, irrespective of whether it is placed in a free space or enclosed on a human body phantom. The read range of the antenna placed on a person’s chest tested was better than 7 m, while showing negligible influence of the human body to which the antenna was attached.
Conflict of Interests
The authors declare that there is no conflict of interests regarding the publication of this paper.
This research was undertaken at the Department of Electromagnetic Field at the Czech Technical University in Prague. It was jointly supported by the Czech Science Foundation (Project no. P102/12/P863: “Electromagnetic Properties of Radiating Structures and Artificial Screening Surfaces in the Close Vicinity of the Human Body”) and a COST Project (no. LD 12055 AMTAS: “Advanced Modelling and Technologies for Antennas and Sensors”), which forms a subpart of COST Project no. IC 1102 VISTA: “Versatile, Integrated, and Signal-Aware Technologies for Antennas.”
- P. S. Hall and H. Yang, Antennas and Propagation for Body-Centric Wireless Communications, Artech House, Norwood, Mass, USA, 2006.
- B. Sanz-Izquierdo, F. Huang, and J. C. Batchelor, “Covert dual-band wearable button antenna,” Electronics Letters, vol. 42, no. 12, pp. 668–670, 2006.
- S. Shrestha, M. Agarwal, P. Ghane, and K. Varahramyan, “Flexible microstrip antenna for skin contact application,” International Journal of Antennas and Propagation, vol. 2012, Article ID 745426, 5 pages, 2012.
- J. G. Joshi, S. S. Pattnaik, and S. Devi, “Metamaterial embedded wearable rectangular microstrip patch antenna,” International Journal of Antennas and Propagation, vol. 2012, Article ID 974315, 9 pages, 2012.
- K. Fujii and Y. Okumura, “Effect of earth ground and environment on body-centric communications in the MHz band,” International Journal of Antennas and Propagation, vol. 2012, Article ID 243191, 10 pages, 2012.
- S. Manzari, S. Pettinari, and G. Marrocco, “Miniaturised wearable UHF-RFID tag with tuning capability,” Electronic Letters, vol. 48, no. 21, pp. 1325–1326, 2012.
- P. Jankowski-Mihułowicz, W. Kalita, M. Skoczylas, and M. Węglarski, “Modelling and design of HF RFID passive transponders with additional energy harvester,” International Journal of Antennas and Propagation, vol. 2013, Article ID 242840, 10 pages, 2013.
- Tashi, M. S. Hasan, and H. Yu, “Design and simulation of UHF RFID tag antennas and performance evaluation in presence of a metallic surface,” in Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Software, Knowledge Information, Industrial Management and Applications (SKIMA '11), pp. 1–5, Benevento, Italy, September 2011.
- M. Lai, R. Li, and M. M. Tentzeris, “Low-profile broadband RFID tag antennas mountable on metallic objects,” in Proceedings of the IEEE International Symposium on Antennas and Propagation Society (APSURSI '10), pp. 1–4, Toronto, Canada, July 2010.
- D. Kim and J. Yeo, “A passive RFID tag antenna installed in a recessed cavity in a metallic platform,” IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, vol. 58, no. 12, pp. 3814–3820, 2010.
- P. H. Yang, Y. Li, L. Jiang, W. C. Chew, and T. T. Ye, “Compact metallic RFID tag antennas with a loop-fed method,” IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, vol. 59, no. 12, pp. 4454–4462, 2011.
- C. Occhiuzzi, S. Cippitelli, and G. Marrocco, “Modeling, design and experimentation of wearable RFID sensor tag,” IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, vol. 58, no. 8, pp. 2490–2498, 2010.
- M. Polivka, M. Svanda, P. Hudec, and S. Zvanovec, “UHF RF identification of people in indoor and open areas,” IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, vol. 57, no. 5, pp. 1341–1347, 2009.
- M. Svanda and M. Polivka, “Two novel extremely low-profile slot-coupled two-element patch antennas for UHF RFID of people,” Microwave and Optical Technology Letters, vol. 52, no. 2, pp. 249–252, 2010.
- M. Svanda, M. Polivka, and P. Hudec, “Novel low-profile foam dielectric over-the-shoulder antenna based on coupled patches technique,” Microwave and Optical Technology Letters, vol. 55, no. 3, pp. 593–597, 2013.
- K. F. Lee and W. Chen, Advances in Microstrip and Printed Antennas, chapter 5, John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY, USA, 1997.
- R. Li, G. DeJean, M. M. Tentzeris, and J. Laskar, “Development and analysis of a folded shorted-patch antenna with reduced size,” IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, vol. 52, no. 2, pp. 555–562, 2004.
- A. Holub and M. Polivka, “A novel microstrip patch antenna miniaturization technique: a meanderly folded shorted-patch antenna,” in Proceedings of the 14th Conference on Microwave Techniques (COMITE '08), pp. 1–4, Prague, Czech Republic, April 2008.
- H. A. Wheeler, “The Radian Sphere around a Small Antenna,” Proceedings of the IRE, vol. 47, no. 8, pp. 1325–1331, 1959.
Copyright © 2014 Milan Svanda and Milan Polivka. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.