KU licenses RFID tags

Lawrence,KS (03-30-2007)

From Lawrence-Journal World
By Mark Fagan

A California company that makes containers for storing and dispensing liquids ranging from fuels to medicines is getting some help tracking its products by using technology developed at Kansas University.

Container Technology Inc., of Santa Barbara, Calif., is licensing the KU-Tag, a radio frequency identification system developed through the Information and Telecommunication Technology Center at KU. Another licensing agreement also is in the works with a company in the Kansas City area.

Proceeds both will help address a critical need in the container industry and pump additional money into ITTC, which will use the money to finance additional research.

"Its substantial," said Keith Braman, the centers associate director for intellectual property. "This has a potential to be, for the terms of the agreements, several million dollars."

RFID systems are used to track inventory by identifying tagged items through radio communication between electronic readers and tags that contain data on microchips. Such systems are used widely for tracking dry goods, but liquids and their containers have proven more problematic.

Certain radio frequencies are obstructed in such conditions, as metals block radio waves and liquids absorb them.

The KU-Tag, specifically designed to function in such conditions, solves this problem with four patent-pending technologies developed by Dan Deavours, an ITTC research assistant professor. The tag system incorporates foil and plastic to keep the tags antenna isolated from metal or fluid, therefore extending the range for reading.

An estimated 1.7 billion RFID tags will be sold worldwide this year, for a total of $4.96 billion, according to IDTechEx Ltd., a consulting firm. In 10 years the market is projected to reach $27.88 billion.

Deavours confirmed the shortcomings of existing RFID systems during testing. So he came up with the KU-Tag, which he said works anywhere from 20 percent to 80 percent better than other tags used with metals and liquid.

"Container Technologys customers need to track containers and the material in those containers," Deavours said, in a statement. "RFID makes that practically automatic. The KU-Tag gives them all the performance they need."

For more information, contact ITTC.

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Partner with ITTC

The Information and Telecommunication Technology Center at the University of Kansas has developed several assistance policies that enhance interactions between the Center and local, Kansas, or national companies. 

ITTC assistance includes initial free consulting (normally one to five hours). If additional support is needed, ITTC will offer one of the following approaches: 

Sponsored Research Agreement

Individuals and organizations can enter into agreements with KUCR/ITTC and provide funds for sponsored research to be performed at ITTC with the assistance of faculty, staff and students.

Licensing and Royalty/Equity Agreement

An ITTC goal is the development of investment-grade technologies for transfer to, and marketing by, local, Kansas, and national businesses. To enhance this process, the Center has developed flexible policies that allow for licensing, royalty, and equity arrangements to meet both the needs of ITTC and the company.

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Companies with a technology need that can be satisfied with ITTC's resources can look to us for assistance. We can develop a relationship with interested partners that will provide for the development of a technology suited for commercialization.

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ITTC resources, including computers and software systems, may be made available to Kansas companies in accordance with the Center's mission and applicable Regents and University policies.

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