US 20050242964 A1
The present application describes an electronically powered postage stamp or mailing label and including a radio frequency identification (RFID) device and system mounted between the opposing and facing major surfaces thereof. The RFID device and system includes an integrated circuit transceiver chip which is connected to and powered by a thin flat battery cell and is operated with a thin film RF antenna, all of which are mounted in side-by-side relationship on a thin base or support layer. These thin flat components are mounted in an essentially two dimensional planar configuration well suited for incorporation into the planar structure of a postage stamp or a mailing label. In addition, the RFID transceiver chip may be replaced with an electro-optically operated IC chip using, for example, LEDs or laser diodes for the propagation of light signals to an interrogator.
13. A process for manufacturing either a postage stamp or mailing or shipping label which is operative in either an RF signal or light signal communication mode which includes depositing one or more thin flat battery cells and an integrated circuit (IC) chip between base and cover members of said stamp or label and connecting said one or more of said thin flat battery cells to power said IC chip.
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This application is a continuation of application Ser. No. 09/481,807 filed Jan. 11, 2000, which is a divisional of application Ser No. 08/934,701 filed Sep. 22, 1997, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,013,949; which is a continuation of application Ser. No. 08/610,236 filed Mar. 4, 1996, now abandoned; which is a continuation of application Ser. No. 08/168,909 filed Dec. 17, 1993, now U.S. Pat. No. 5,497,140; which is a continuation of application Ser. No. 07/928,899 filed Aug. 12, 1992, now abandoned.
This invention relates generally to electrically powered postage stamps and mailing labels which operate to transmit radio frequency (RF) identification signals to an interrogator either at the point of shipment origin, in transit, or upon reaching a point of destination. More particularly, this invention relates to such stamps and labels having an integrated circuit therein powered by a thin flat battery cell.
In my co-pending application Ser. No. (71-579) entitled “Radio Frequency Identification Device and Method of Manufacture, Including an Electrical Operating System and Method”, filed Jun. 17, 1992, there are disclosed and claimed new and improved radio frequency identification (RFID) tags which may be affixed to various articles (or persons) so that these articles, when shipped, may be easily tracked from the point of shipment origin, then along a given route, and then readily located upon reaching a point of destination. These RFID tags are constructed within a small area on the order of one inch (1″) square or less and of a thickness on the order of 30 mils. These tags include, among other things, an integrated circuit (IC) chip having transmitter, receiver, memory and control logic sections therein which together form an IC transceiver capable of being powered by either a small battery or by a capacitor charged from a remote RF source. The IC chip including the RF transmitter and receiver sections operates to provide for the RF signal transmission and reception to and from remote sources, and a thin film antenna is also constructed within the above small area. The above novel RFID system operates to receive, store, and transmit article-identifying data to and from the memory within the IC chip. This data is stored within the IC chip memory stage and may be subsequently called up and transmitted to an interrogating party at the above point of origin, points along a given shipment route, and then upon reaching a point of destination. This co-pending application is assigned to the present assignee and is incorporated herein by reference.
The RFID device disclosed and claimed in my above identified co-pending application represents not only a fundamental breakthrough in the field of RF identification generally, but also represents significant specific advances over the prior art described in some detail in this co-pending application. This prior art includes relatively large hybrid electronic packages which have been affixed to railroad cars to reflect RF signals in order to monitor the location and movement of such cars. This prior art also includes smaller passive RFID packages which have been developed in the field of transportation and are operative for tracking automobiles. These reflective passive RFID packages operate by modulating the impedance of an antenna, but are generally inefficient in operation, require large amounts of power to operate, and have a limited data handling capability.
The above mentioned prior art still further includes bar code identification devices and optical character recognition (OCR) devices which are well known in the art. However, these bar code identification and OCR devices require labor intensive operation and tend to be not only very expensive, but highly unreliable. However, all of the above mentioned prior art devices described in my above co-pending application are only remotely related to the present invention as will become more readily apparent in the following description thereof.
The general purpose and principal object of the present invention is to provide still further new and useful improvements in the field of radio frequency identification (RFID) generally and improvements which are particularly adapted and well-suited for operation with electrically powered postage stamps and mailing labels. These new and useful improvements are made both with respect to the novel devices and processes described and claimed in my above identified co-pending application, and also with respect to all of the prior art described therein.
To accomplish the above purpose and object, there have been developed both an electrically powered postage stamp and an electrically powered mailing label, each of which include, in combination, an integrated circuit chip having an RF transceiver constructed therein; a thin flat battery cell connected to the IC chip for providing power thereto; and a thin film RF antenna connected to the IC chip for transmitting data to and from the IC chip. All of the above components are connected in a very thin array and mounted between opposing major facing surfaces of either a postage stamp or a larger mailing or shipping label in a substantially two dimensional planar configuration. These components are operative to store data in the IC chip memory, which data includes such things as the destination address, return address, and descriptions of the contents of the article being mailed or shipped. These components are further operative in a novel system combination to transmit the stored data to an interrogating party upon receipt of RF interrogation signals transmitted to the stamp or label, or to receive data from same.
Accordingly, it is another object of this invention to provide a new and improved RFID stamp or label of the type described which is uniquely constructed in an essentially two dimensional configuration which is easily scalable to the two dimensional major surface area of either a postage stamp or a mailing label.
Another object of this invention is to provide a new and improved electronically powered stamp or label of the type described and process for making the stamp or label which employs certain novel, thin film fabrication techniques capable of producing device thicknesses on the order of a fraction of a millimeter. These thicknesses are typically within the range of one to five mils, thereby being extremely well suited and adapted for use with corresponding postage stamp or mailing label thickness dimensions.
A further object of this invention is to provide a new and improved electronically powered postage stamp or mailing label of the type described including RFID integrated circuitry which is operatively powered by a flat and very thin battery and imparts a high and sophisticated degree of RF communication capability to these stamps or labels without significantly increasing the overall size and volume of the stamps or labels.
The above brief summary of the invention, together with its various objects, novel features and attendant advantages, will become more readily apparent in the following description of the accompanying drawings.
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The thin flat battery cells 16 and 18 can be made of various materials and typically include an anode, a collector, a cathode material, and a battery separator including a polymer and electrolytes of the type described below so as to not exceed a total battery thickness of 1 to 10 mils, while simultaneously being flexible and in some cases rechargeable. Furthermore, imminent commercialization of solid thin flat batteries having useful current levels at low temperatures makes the present invention commercially viable. Thus, since the IC chip 24 can also be made of thicknesses of no greater than 8 mils and since the thin film metal dipole antenna strips 26 and 28 may be held to thicknesses less than 1 to 2 mils, it is seen that the total added thickness between the label cover and base layers 10 and 12 will be negligible and not significantly affecting the bulk or the volume of the stamp or label into which the RFID system 14 is incorporated.
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A pair of rectangularly shaped batteries 38 and 40 are positioned as shown adjacent to the IC chip 32 and are also disposed on the upper surface of the base support member 30. The two rectangular batteries 38 and 40 are electrically connected in series to power the IC chip 32 in a manner more particularly described below. The device or package shown in
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Next, a spot of conductive epoxy is applied to each end of the conductive strip 50, and then the cover layer material 42 with the conductive epoxy thereon is folded over onto the batteries 38 (of
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The receiver 68 is connected through a line 80 to a control logic stage 82, and a first output line 84 from the control logic stage 82 is connected as an input to the memory stage 86. A return output line 88 from the memory stage 86 connects back to the control logic stage 82, and a second output line 90 from the control logic stage 82 connects as a second input to the transmitter 70 for providing memory or stored input data to the transmitter 70 via the control logic stage 82. In a data encoding operation, the data received concerning ID number, name, route, destination, size, weight, etc. is processed through the receiver 68 and through the control logic stage 82 and encoded into the memory stage 86.
As an example of a data call-up operation, when the RFID package in the above figures is placed on the outside surface of a piece luggage by the airlines or on a package for shipment by the postal service, either the airline agent or the postal worker will transmit information to the receiver 68 via an RF communication link concerning data such as the owner's name ID number, point of origin, weight, size, route, destination, and the like. This information received at the receiver stage 68 is then transmitted over line 80 and through the appropriate control logic stage 82 which sorts this information out in a known manner and in turn transmits the data to be stored via lines 84 into a bank of memory 86. This data is stored here in memory 86 until such time that it is desired to call up the data at one or more points along the shipment route.
For example, upon reaching a point of shipment destination, an interrogator may want to call up this data and use it at the point of destination for insuring that the item of shipment or luggage is most ensuredly and efficiently put in the hands of the desired recipient at the earliest possible time. Thus, an interrogator at the destination point will send interrogation signals to the RFID chip 66 where they will be received at the antenna 74 and first processed by a sleep/wake up circuit 76 which operates to bring the
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Various modifications may be made in and to the above described embodiment without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention. For example, various modifications and changes may be made in the antenna configurations, battery arrangements (such as battery stacking), device materials, device fabrication steps, and the system block diagram in
In addition, still other modifications may be made in and to the above described cell fabrication and device fabrication procedures without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention. For example, the present invention is not limited to the use of any particular types of thin flat battery cells or materials or cell fabrication processes, nor is it limited to the particular preferred fabrication technique for the RFID system as shown in
Finally, it will be understood and appreciated by those skilled in the art that the present invention also includes forming an optical detector on the IC chip as a means of receiving and detecting signals carried by light and also as a means of powering the RFID transceiver as an alternative to using a battery. Accordingly, these and other systems and constructional modifications are clearly within the scope of the broad claims filed herein.