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RFID News Roundup

Kathrein RFID unveils UHF reader system with dynamically adjustable antenna polarization; Baystate Health selects Awarepoint RTLS to track and manage assets; Infineon, Bundesdruckerei partner on NFC-enabled security card with an LED that displays one-time password; SDG Systems enhances Android (AOSP 2.3) OS for Pidion BIP-6000MaxID with LF, UHF RFID; China's RFID tag market to nearly double to $807 million in 2017.
By Beth Bacheldor
Mar 14, 2013

The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Kathrein RFID Unveils UHF Reader System With Dynamically Adjustable Antenna Polarization

Kathrein RFID's WiRa 70-KRAI antenna

German RFID company Kathrein RFID has announced that several of its ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C antennas and readers support the Kathrein RFID Antenna Interface (KRAI). The technology is designed to improve read rates while reducing hardware costs, particularly within dense transponder populations or in highly reflective environments, Kathrein RFID reports, adding that using KRAI antennas can increase read rates by 33 percent compared with the rates for simple circular antennas. Based on Kathrein's patented technology being used in mobile technology to dynamically adapt the radio cells' properties (in terms of capacity and size) to suit mobile users' needs, the company reports, KRAI leverages specialized antenna-integrated phase shifters that allow static or dynamic adjustment of the circular polarization as well as the controlling of up to 32 so-called intelligent SmartShelf modules (SMSH) per Kathrein reader (a maximum of eight SMSH modules per reader port). KRAI consists of a digital control bus that enables connection between the RFID reader and the antennas, in order to allow control and regulation tasks within remote antennas. KRAI commands are transmitted over the standard antenna cable, so no additional lead or connection is required to control the new antenna types. KRAI is supported by two antennas: the WiRa-70-KRAI-ETSI (for European markets) and the WiRa-70-KRAI-FCC (for American markets). The WiRa-70-KRAI antenna offers a read range of up to 10 meters (32.8 feet), making it suitable for portal applications in industrial environments, and has four LEDs for visualization. With KRAI, the antenna has four different polarizations that can be selected (right-handed circular, right-handed circular, horizontal linear and vertical linear). KRAI is supported by the SMSH-30-30-KRAI-Slave UHF smart-shelf antenna module for near-field and far-field applications. The smart-shelf antenna, which measures 300 millimeters by 300 millimeters by 5 millimeters (11.8 inches by 11.8 inches by 0.2 inch), has a read range of 0 to 50 centimeters (0 to 19.7 inches). KRAI is available on Kathrein RFID's RRU4-ELC-E6 ETSI and RRU4-ELC-U6 FCC readers designed for applications with time-critical filters in high to very high tag populations. The readers feature the Linux operating system running on the embedded PC and combined TX/RX antenna ports.

Baystate Health Selects Awarepoint RTLS to Track, Manage Assets
Real-time location system (RTLS) provider Awarepoint has announced that Baystate Baystate Health will install technology from Awarepoint. Awarepoint's aware360° platform includes ZigBee-based real-time location system (RTLS) hardware, software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, and maintenance, management and consulting services. Initially, Baystate Health will implement the technology at the Baystate Medical Center, which includes Baystate Children's Hospital, in Springfield, Mass. According to Awarepoint, the deployment will focus on tracking and managing assets to improve workflow, productivity and efficiency, to enhance patient safety and the quality and timeliness of care, and to reduce equipment costs. The deployment, which is slated to be implemented during the next four to six months, will cover 1.3 million square feet and track 3,000 assets. These will include shared equipment and emergency medical equipment, such as large-volume IV pumps, hypothermia management equipment and balloon pumps. A project team will be created to evaluate requests for additional items to be tracked, Awarepoint reports. Implementations will follow at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital, in Ware, Mass., and at the Baystate Franklin Medical Center, in Greenfield, Mass., once an assessment of the initial program at Baystate Medical Center is completed. Specifically, Awarepoint indicates, Baystate Health will implement awareAssets, part of the aware360° suite that automatically identifies the location and status of mobile medical equipment with room-level accuracy that can be deployed within 60 days. The software can also track device utilization, the company notes, as well as whether infusion pumps or other equipment have been properly cleaned, sterilized and maintained.

Infineon, Bundesdruckerei Partner on NFC-enabled Security Card With LED that Displays One-time Password

Bundesdruckerei's and Infineon's security card

Semiconductor manufacturer Infineon Technologies and Bundesdruckerei, a developer and producer of high-security ID documents and systems, have announced their development of a new security smart card featuring a light-emitting diode (LED) display and a one-time password. The new card leverages an embedded, contactless security Near Field Communication (NFC) chip that generates a one-time password for each transaction and displays that password on the integrated LED display. According to the two companies, the one-time password—in addition to a static password—boosts the security of authentication and payment applications, protects against attacks on company networks and helps prevent card manipulation. Here's how the technology works, according to the companies: The card comes with a static password that can be made up of a sequence of numbers, and every time the card is used to make a payment or access a building, for example, the user will also have to input a dynamic PIN supplement (the one-time password) that will be automatically generated for each transaction by the security chip in the card, and also be displayed on the integrated LED display. The card's chip uses the energy radiated from the card reader to power the security chip and generate the password, as well as power the display elements. The LED display itself is embedded into the card, the companies explain, so that the digits light up on the card surface. Even if the static PIN is stolen or read by malware, the card cannot be utilized by an unauthorized party when the dynamic PIN is missing. The dynamic PIN, on the other hand, is only generated on the card and cannot be read from the card's display by malware. The card can be used for all log-in scenarios, such as logging in at a PC to access a company network, or signing onto social networks via the Internet. The new technology could also be employed, for instance, to boost security for card payments. According to the companies, the new polycarbonate smart card is not only designed for use with a conventional reading device, but can also be utilized via an NFC-enabled smartphone that serves as the reader. The card was developed as part of a partnership that the two firms launched in 2011, to develop technologies for the next generation of security documents, such as company ID cards or electronic ID documents (eID). Under the arrangements of the partnership, Bundesdruckerei contributes its expertise and the design of security features for polycarbonate cards, while Infineon provides its expertise in the development and the production of contactless security chips and chip packages, and their integration into cards.

SDG Systems Enhances Android (AOSP 2.3) OS for Pidion BIP-6000MaxID With LF, UHF RFID
SDG Systems, a value-added distributor and reseller of rugged computing products, has announced enhancements to its Android Open Source Project (AOSP) 2.3 operating system (OS) to support the new Bluebird Pidion BIP-6000MaxID model that now supports low-frequency (LF) and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID, in addition to its existing support of high-frequency (HF) RFID. The BIP-6000MaxID model has been drop-tested and is water-resistant, and also features an all-day battery, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, a camera, and GSM and GPS functionality. With the upgraded OS on the new handhelds, SDG reports, enterprise customers can use the devices for a variety of applications, including industrial and animal identification, field service, manufacturing, warehouse and inventory management, patient management, pharmaceuticals, fleet management, and waste and recycling management. Todd Blumer, SDG's president, says that the AOSP 2.3 OS can run a range of Android applications and is Android-compatible, except for Google Play Services (Google Maps, for example). "The lack of Google Play means that users won't be installing games or other distractions," he states. What's more, AOSP provides an interface familiar to most users, and the upgrade supports over-the-air (OTA) updates from SDG's or the customer's server for operating system updates and enhancements. According to Blumer, the OS provides a flexible programming environment with tools for the Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS X and Linux operating systems. Google provides a large amount of documentation and support groups for application development, he says, and terminal emulation is supported. There are several browser options, including a significant subset of HTML5 support, and SOTI MobiControl Android+ mobile device management is also supported. For RFID users, SDG's RFID devices support the Google Android NFC application programming interface (API), so new and existing applications can read the tag ID from a standard programming interface. The keyboard wedge functionality can read either the tag ID or user memory into application or Web browser text fields. The UHF RFID interrogator supports a region-selectable frequency range of 840 MHz to 960 MHz, and reads passive tags complying with the ISO 18000-6C (EPC Gen 2) and ISO 18000-6B standards. The LF RFID model supports 125 kHz and 134.2 kHz frequencies, as well as the reading of tags complying with the ISO 11784, ISO 11785 and ISO 18000-2 standards

China's RFID Tag Market to Nearly Double to $807 Million in 2017
New findings from a report released by Lux Research indicate that the Chinese market for RFID tags and cards will nearly double in value to $807 million, and more than double in unit shipments. According to Lux Research, the growth is attributed to the Chinese government's focus on the Internet of Things, which involves embedding connectivity and intelligence in everyday objects, as well as a surge in private sector growth. Specifically, the report predicts, the RFID card and tag market volume will grow to 2.11 billion units, from 894 million in 2012, reflecting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19 percent. In revenue terms, the market will grow to $807 million in 2017, from $454 million in 2012, at a CAGR of 12 percent. To date, government applications account for 22 percent of the volume and 34 percent of the revenue, according to Richard Jun Li, Lux Research's director, but that is about to change quickly, he says. The findings are part of the report, titled "Identifying Growth and Threat in China's Emerging RFID Ecosystem." Among other findings, the report estimates that the use of RFID tags and cards for anti-counterfeiting and consumer applications will grow the fastest in volume terms—at a CAGR of 38 percent until 2017. Industrial applications will grow at a 25 percent rate, while electronic toll collection will be a fast-growing sector. Additionally, China-based original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) account for 57 percent of the Chinese market and are poised for further gains, with a focus on the fast-growing ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) market, which is estimated to become $236 million market in 2017.

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