The need for traceability is among the many huge shadows cast by Toyota’s recent recalls. STMicroelectronics is providing a novel approach to circuit board tracking with a Dual Interface EEPROM that adds an RFID link.
The memory chip is attached to circuit boards along with other devices, requiring only the addition of a small antenna printed on the board. This RFID link can be used to track the board during manufacturing and on through its lifetime. It can also be reprogrammed in the field via the wireless link as well as by the conventional I2C bus connection.
As more companies move from bar codes to RFID tags, this sort of approach provides an added incentive to make the transition. RFID tagging makes this link more useful throughout a product’s lifetime. Programs can be updated in the field, diagnostic data can be accessed even when the board is powered down. In the event of recalls, technicians can quickly determine whether a board has faulty code. Wireless communications often make it simpler to perform this task.
Board designers may be able to exploit this technology in a number of ways. It’s an intriguing approach to integration, blending programmable memory and RFID tagging to do more in less space, providing benefits over the lifetime of a product.

Filed under: Boards Tagged: RFID

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