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This paper discusses the evolution towards the first integrated radio-frequency identification (RFID)-enabled wireless sensor network infrastructure using ultra-high frequency/radio frequency (UHF/RF) RFID-enabled sensor nodes and inkjet-printed electronics technologies on flexible and paper substrates for the first time ever. The first sections highlight the unique capabilities of inkjet printed electronics as well as the benefits of using paper as the ultra-low-cost, conformal and environmentally friendly substrate for the mass-scale ubiquitous implementation of the first RFID-enabled wireless sensing applications. Various inkjet-printed antenna configurations are presented for enhanced-range compact RFID-enabled sensing platforms in “rugged” environments up to 7 GHz, followed by the discussion of their 2-D integration with integrated circuit (IC) and sensors on paper. This integration is extended to a power-scavenging “smart-shoe” batteryless integrated RFID module on paper that could be used for autonomous wearable sensing applications with enhanced range. The paper concludes discussing the details for establishing for the first time an asynchronous wireless link between the aforementioned RFID-tags and a widely used commercial wireless sensor network (WSN) mote using a simplified protocol; a paramount step that could potentially create ubiquitous ultra-low-cost sensor networks and large-scale RFID implementations eliminating the need of expensive RFID reader infrastructure and linking RFIDs to the mature level of WSNs.
Date of Publication: Sept. 2010