With corporate giants like Wal-Mart embracing RFID in every potential nook and cranny of their supply chain, it's becoming quite the profitable little cottage industry, and Texas Instruments apparently wants a bigger piece of the pie. With the announcement of its EPC second-generation UHF-based RFID silicon, the company has blazed its own trail by insourcing the fabrication of its tags and marketing the new chips to retailers who rely on fast-paced data transmissions in their manufacturing and distribution channels. The new Gen 2 silicon obviously has complex underpinnings responsible for the changes; as TI states, it's developed "on the most advanced analog process node at 130 nanometer and with a built-in Schottky diode [saywha?] for more efficient conversion of RF signal energy." While that may not mean much to you, the skinny is that these new tags have increased chip-to-reader sensitivity, so more packages can be read at a faster pace from a greater distance than before. What this provides end-users with is greater flexibility, which has been a issue with passive RFID thus far -- new wafers and chips can be placed in more varied locations on pallets, boxes, and even flexible packaging such as bags, without fear of slipping under the radar (literally). And, as always, while retailers may dig the the increased read-range, we're sure it won't be long before the privacy advocates introduce a high-proximity RFID scrambler just in case these tags make the jump from packaging to people.

Sky HD and Pioneer not playing nicely together