Smart Passive RFID Sensors Cut the Costs in Ubiquitous IoT Data Capture

Article By : Axzon

The Internet of Things is about optimizing systems and business processes by capturing and using data to make better decisions. Networking, the cloud, security, and many other IoT building blocks, are essential elements, but it really comes down to sensors. Axzon's Magnus family of smart passive UHF RFID sensors enables many passive sensing applications in multiple industrial applications, cold-chain logistics, predictive maintenance, and healthcare.

Thanks to their versatility in form and function, Axzon’s smart passive sensors have found widespread adoption in many applications gathering valuable sense data and powering informed decisions.

The more sensors deployed in a given application—be it building management, patient monitoring, data center leak detection, or vaccine tracking in the cold chain—the more opportunities companies have to identify trends, increase their efficiency, and potentially create new revenue-generating services.

Wireless Passive Sensors Enabled by Chameleon Technology

A passive wireless sensor is an RFID label (tag) composed of an antenna and a Magnus-S sensor die (Figure 1). Axzon’s Magnus integrated circuit (IC) family offers the industry’s only self-tuning capability, called Chameleon technology. Implemented in an on-chip analog signal processing circuit, Chameleon technology automatically adjusts the input impedance of the IC to optimally tune the tag every time it is accessed.

Tags based on conventional chips can be detuned by a variety of external factors, most commonly by proximity to liquids or metals. Such factors can change the impedance characteristics of a tag’s antenna. When the tag chip has a fixed impedance, a mismatch between the chip and the antenna results, reducing the tag’s performance. The Chameleon technology enables Axzon’s sensors with the longest read ranges and most accurate sensing capabilities.


Figure 1: Sensor consisting of an antenna and a Magnus-S die.

Figure 2: Magnus-S sensor die with EPC Class-1 Gen2 RFID engine and adaptive front end called the Chameleon Engine.

Unlimited Applications

The application space for Axzon’s sensors is virtually unlimited. Applications requiring the maintenance-free remote monitoring of temperature or temperature and moisture together abound. The many use cases include predictive maintenance of industrial equipment, in-process controls, water vapor detection, sensing of wet material stock where wetness causes product loss or deterioration, sensing of wetness in applications sensitive to mold or corrosion, and detection of leaks in hard-to-access locations, just to list a few.

Healthcare, incontinence management with dignity, using Axzons sensors

Adult incontinence is a problem that affects many with serious implications on the quality of life, caregiving, and service delivery. In addition to physical discomfort, incontinence may also cause complications through skin rashes and infections. Care guidelines specify that soiled garments should be changed and skin cleansed in a timely fashion. Significant costs are attributed to resources used for incontinence management or “routine care,” such as absorbent pads, protection, and laundry.

Figure 3: Moisture sensor being used in adult briefs can improve the quality of care and return dignity to the wearer.

Axzon has developed a new, low-cost, wireless, battery-free sensor that turns any standard adult brief or absorbent pad into a smart brief, allowing a caregiver to remotely and noninvasively detect patient incontinence events. The solution includes a simple self-adhesive, disposable sensor that is flexible and attaches to any off-the-shelf brief or pad. A simple handheld RF reader wirelessly accesses the sensor and determines if the garment is wet or dry. The sensor itself does not need to be wet. It just needs to be near the liquid. The moisture sensor is approximately the size of a Band-Aid®, and the handheld reader is similar in size to a cell phone.

As the industry grapples with a global pandemic, what developments have been happening in the medical electronics sector? What technologies are in the pipeline? How are manufacturers improving their processes? All this, and more, in this month’s In Focus series.

Preventing switchgear failures in factory and transmission equipment

Over its 20-year service life, high voltages and high currents strain electric switchgear, accelerating the deterioration and increasing the danger of catastrophic failure. While power distribution equipment is critical to our modern lifestyle, it is also hazardous to maintain. The risk to human life can be extreme when switchgear fails.

Temperature is the critical indicator to protect human life. But, most temperature sensors require wiring for power and communication. Wiring is not practical inside switchgear equipment where it contributes to arcing risks. Axzon’s sensor technology enables wireless, battery-free sensors that pinpoint failing switchgear components and abnormal operation.

Rugged wireless temperature sensors can be attached directly to complex components and busbars using the integrated adhesive strip. In addition, lug-mounted sensors can be bolted directly to heavy-duty equipment. As Axzon’s sensors are passive, they eliminate batteries, maintenance, and wiring, making them suitable for high-voltage environments with significant arcing risks where sensor wiring is not an option.

Figure 4: Sensor being used in switchgear application measuring temperature to provide a predictive maintenance solution.

Data Center Thermal Monitoring of Switchgear & Busbars

Datacenter busbar systems that transmit power to individual racks carry loads between 100kW and 500+ kWs. The Individual “snap-together” busbar units can conduct between 10–30+ kWs. Loads can vary depending on individual server usage, rack usage, and virtual machines running on each physical server at any one time.

There is a need to thermally monitor for failing connections between busbar units and at each tap-off unit. Higher temperatures are a clear sign of the failing connections. Wireless Passive Sensors can be used to provide continuous condition-based monitoring by direct thermal sensing and provide the most cost-effective solution.

Figure 4: Sensor used in data centers to providing temperature and moisture monitoring solution.

Additionally, data centers must also monitor airflow, which typically moves air vertically through the facility. Drops in airflow or increases in air temperatures can cause significant damage to server equipment or indicate air handling failures. Axzon’s sensors can also be configured to monitor the data center air temperatures. Recent innovations in data center management have some data centers moving from air cooling to water cooling. Water cooling adds additional potential issues with water leaks and cooling failures. Azxon also has wireless battery-free moisture sensors in addition to the temperature that can remotely monitor for leaks.

With Axzon’s RFM3240 long read range, or RFM3254 rugged wireless passive sensors, 24/7 monitoring of critical data center infrastructure has never been more accessible or low cost.

Vaccine track and monitoring solution with identifier, digital signature & guaranteed authenticity

Vaccines can be life-saving medication, but many need to be transported at low temperatures and sealed and packaged to distinguish from counterfeits, all at an affordable cost.

Figure 5: Sensor attached to vaccine vial providing full tracking and monitoring solution.

Axzon, with its network partners, has developed a unique label solution plus logistics management system that has been designed to provide the necessary oversight, temperature monitoring, and support to strengthen and secure the vaccinations supply chain.

At the heart of the system is a battery-free wireless sensor label that is small enough to attach directly to even the smallest of vaccine vials. This label can precisely report real-time temperature data as well as level monitoring to indicate the dilution status of the drug or how many doses are left in the receptacle or vial. Both factors make the storage and administration process quicker, safer and more controllable.

The advanced RFID sensor technology also includes a unique traceable identifier, digital signature, and serial number to ensure authenticity.

The full solution can be built around the Axzon sensor that supports a full workstation attached to networks or remote handheld units with cloud connectivity.

The planning and process monitoring can be defined to run in the background to record each step of a vaccines journey and show the vaccines have been stored within the correct temperature range, plus time remaining before expiry. With this monitoring and reporting system full visibility and traceability throughout the supply chain process can be provided to ensure compliance with regulations, ensure vaccine efficacy, and avoid handling errors and waste.


About Axzon

Based in Austin, Texas, Axzon (formerly RFMicron, Inc) is the world leader in RFID battery-free wireless sensor products and the inventor and patent owner of the technology. Axzon’s encryption technology protects user’s data & guarantees the integrity of the data that bring the Internet of Things (IoT) to industries and businesses in need of real-time business insights to the company’s bottom line. Since its founding in 2006, Axzon has led the expansion of sensing capabilities to meet the unique, large-scale demands of businesses whose success depends on knowing more about their operating conditions, including automotive manufacturing, healthcare, predictive maintenance, switchgear, cold-chain, and data centers. In addition, Axzon continues to build partnerships with industry partners to bring wireless battery-free sensing solutions to market and solve the toughest sensing challenges.

Learn more at

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Caltech Solutions Ltd
1F., No. 15, Ln. 75, Sec. 1, Heping E. Rd., Da’an Dist., Taipei City 106004, Taiwan

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Caltech Solutions Japan
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