Montie Design, a North Carolina-based design firm, has launched a low-cost device to detect if RFID interrogators are working properly. The device, priced at $20 and small enough to clip onto an ID badge, is being marketed to RFID installers and users, and has already been bought by U.S. Department of Homeland Security, among other customers.
The device consists of an LED and an antenna integrated into a PCB. To operate the detector, a user holds it in front of an UHF reader antenna. If an RFID transmission from the reader is detected, the LED in the center of the device illuminates. If the interrogator is not transmitting, the light stays off. The pocket-sized device does not measure the quality of transmission, just whether a transmission is present.
The RFID detector is a departure for the two-year-old firm, which typically designs industrial and mechanical products, such as bike rental stations, solar panels and encasing for RFID transceivers and other products. The locally-assembled detector was based on an idea of one of the company’s designer’s friends, and took about two months to develop.
Though Montie Roland, the owner of the company, pictured the product mainly being used to test new RFID installations, he has received a number of inquires about using it to test for hidden readers in public places, placed in an attempt to skim information off of RFID-enabled ID cards. Roland says the short range of the tester makes it impractical for that sort of application, but (not surprisingly) the questions have given him an idea of new product for his company’s engineers to develop.
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