June 07, 2012, 11:41 AM — Mojix has released a new version of its wide-area RFID tag reading product, now capable of reading tags 600 or more feet away.
The Mojix Space Time Array Receiver (STAR) 3000 has a range of tag reading performance improvements, better cost of ownership, a ruggedized radio receiver for use in outdoor and industrial sites, and an option to run the server software as part of VMware virtualization deployment.
Los Angeles-based Mojix was founded in 2004 by a team of NASA scientists and engineers. They adapted deep space communications signal processing algorithms for RFID, enabling a single, separate, highly sensitive receiver to read tags hundreds of feet away. The algorithms were developed based on their experience at NASA in salvaging telemetry data from the Galileo spacecraft mission after Galileo's high-gain antenna failed to deploy upon reaching Jupiter.
By contrast, most RFID systems have a tag reading range of 20 to 30 feet, or with expensive battery-powered tags around 100 feet, requiring portable tag readers or using multiple larger readers at chokepoints such as assembly lines, where product is loaded on pallets, or at shipping docks. The Mojix breakthrough was enough to draw $40 million in venture backing from the likes of Oak Investments Partners, InnoCal Venture Capital, Red Rock Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank.
The first product, STAR 1000, was introduced in Q2 2008. Customers include Airbus, BP, Dole, Kraft, Lufthansa Cargo and the U.S. Department of Defense.
The STAR 3000 has the same basic architecture as its predecessors. Customers deploy onsite one or more eNode Controllers, with a cluster of distributed antennas, now up to 16. The antennas transmit an RF beam to industry-standard passive RFID tags; the 16 antennas now can cover more than 200,000 square feet. The RF energy "wakes up" the tags, which in essence reflect back part of the energy, along with the ID and other data associated with the tag. In the new product, up to just over 65,500 eNodes can be deployed in one system, compared to 512 in the previous version.