Wireless technology spins off to serve private sector
November 29, 2000
RICHLAND, Wash. –
A wireless communication technology capable of tracking items ranging from honeybees to soldiers will be the foundation of a new company launched today. The startup company, called Wave ID, will license proprietary technology developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and will be financed partially by Battelle, which operates the laboratory for the Department of Energy.
Wave ID will develop and sell wireless communication systems based on radio-frequency, or RF, identification technologies previously developed at PNNL. These systems will include RF tags, which are wireless communication devices that range in size from a grain of rice to a credit card and can be designed to identify, locate or monitor items.
"Wave ID will fill a void in wireless communication technologies for applications where longer range but low power consumption is required. Our technology falls between short-range technologies, such as bar code, and long-range technologies that require significant battery power, such as cell phones," said Curt Carrender, Wave ID's chief technical officer and a former PNNL engineer. "Our wireless technology can provide information at a greater distance yet uses very little power.
"Wave ID's products will be useful for supply chain management, security control and any other application where an item's location, history and physical or environmental condition is important."
Potential commercial markets include warehouse management, such as quickly determining if a pallet of goods is present in a warehouse and its location.
Over the past five years, PNNL engineers have enhanced the capabilities of RF tagging systems to meet the U.S. military's need for better and automated inventory management and security control.
"We'll have a strong team of engineers who were integral to the enhancements made at the laboratory," said Ron Gilbert, Wave ID director of engineering and a former PNNL engineer. Carrender, Gilbert and two additional engineers-Jeff Cole and Jeff Scott-have left PNNL and will serve as Wave ID's core development team. The laboratory has replaced those engineers to maintain its capabilities in RF wireless technology.
Since 1995, PNNL has received several million dollars in government funding to design RF wireless systems to be smaller and capable of communicating at unprecedented distances. Military projects have included tracking honeybees used in landmine detection, securing night vision goggles against theft and creating electronic dog tags for soldiers. PNNL engineers will continue enhancing RF wireless capabilities for their government clients.
Battelle paid for commercialization activities associated with these technologies, including business planning and patent applications. In exchange for an exclusive license to the RF technologies, Wave ID will pay Battelle royalties, of which 51 percent will be returned to PNNL for use at the laboratory.
Business inquiries about PNNL technologies should be directed to 1-888-375-PNNL or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on PNNL's radio frequency technology development is at http://www.pnl.gov/nsd/commercial/rftags/. The laboratory intends to continue its advanced research and development into radio-frequency identification.