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NEC develops three-format RFID reader

Engineers at NEC have developed a RFID (radio frequency identification) card reader compatible with all three major wireless formats.

The reader will be launched around April next year and a prototype was unveiled Tuesday at a company event in Tokyo.

At present a number of different RFID card formats have been commercialized and are battling for dominance in the market but a winner is yet to emerge. That means companies deploying RFID readers must make a bet on a system that might not make it, said Tomoju Kawakubo, a chief at NEC's ubiquitous solution department. The NEC reader brings some future proofing with compatibility for 13.56MHz, UHF (ultra-high frequency) and 2.45GHz cards.

During a demonstration at the company's iExpo event, the reader was shown working with Mifare, Felica, I-Code, Tag-It, EPC Global, Intellitag and uChip cards. For four of the card formats, the unit is completely compatible but for Mifare, Felica and uChip it's restricted to reading only the card ID number.

A non-working model of the commercial version, about a quarter the size of the prototype, was also on display. It will be launched in April along with a reader circuit board that can be embedded into other products. The board is smaller than a credit card.

Prices for the reader and board were not announced.

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