Security system software and ASIC design often go hand in hand, but we’re not just talking about airport security scanners and CCTV systems. The advent of miniaturized RFID (Radio Frequency Identity) devices has made it possible for everything and everyone to be “tagged.” First used in animal applications, there is now talk of microchipping humans – something many parents are keen to see implemented to protect their children.
The beauty of miniaturized RFID devices is they are so tiny that they can be injected under the skin where, unlike conventional security tags, they can’t be removed. No larger than a grain of rice, they have been phenomenally effective in reuniting stolen or absconded pets with their owners, and in protecting the public from stray animals. In some parts of the US, it’s a legal requirement to have your dog microchipped.
The security microchips produced by component manufacturers may be small (and getting smaller – in 2009 Bristol University successfully microchipped ants) but they contain a lot of elements. Chief among these is a tiny integrated circuit, which modulates and demodulates radio-frequency signals and stores and processes information, sending it to the scanning device when the tag is activated. There is also a coil inductor, which acts as a radio antenna, and a capacitor which, with the inductor, forms an LC circuit and acts as a tuner.
The tag is activated when it encounters the inductive field of the scanner, which charges the LC circuit and triggers data transmission from the IC. FPGA design and DSP programming are just two of the skills needed to engineer the hardware; both fields in which we at Enventure Technologies are highly experienced.