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Auto-ID Center Adds Six Sponsors

Mitsui, a major Japanese trading firm, and Canon are the latest Asian sponsors.
Tags: Standards
Nov 06, 2002Nov. 6, 2002 -- The Auto-ID Center has added six new sponsors, including Mitsui & Co., a major Japanese trading company. The new technology sponsors are, Canon, Catalina Marketing Corp., ConnecTerra, KSW Microtec and Vizional Technologies.

Mitsui is the center's 31st end-user sponsor. It is the sixth sponsor from Japan, and Canon is the seventh. The center has been making a big push to add sponsors from Asia as it prepares to open labs in Japan and China by the end of the year.

Mitsui is one of Japan's largest trading companies. It had sales of $4.2 billion in fiscal 2002 and ranks 472 in the Financial Times Global 500. It trades a wide range of products, including petroleum, steel, food, textiles, industrial machinery, petrochemicals, soft drinks, computer hardware, and medical equipment. The company wants to track the movement of these goods more closely.

Among the new technology sponsors, KSW Microtec of Germany is the only traditional RFID vendor. The company focuses on the development low-cost RFID packaging applications. It recently introduced a battery-powered smart label and a low-cost temperature sensor.

ConnecTerra is a startup based in Cambridge, Mass. It has developed a software platform for connecting remote devices to enterprise software systems. The platform could be use, for example, by a petroleum company to monitor individual gas pumps, or by an office equipment manufacturer to monitor the condition of photocopiers, so they can be serviced before they break down.

The company got interested in the Auto-ID Center through Sun Microsystems, which has invested in ConnecTerra. ConnecTerra's technology, which will be released early next year, could provide secure communication between enterprise systems and readers scattered around the world.

"With thousands of readers in warehouses, you end up with a very distributed computing system that you have to manage, secure and tie into business processes," Dave Douglas, ConnecTerra's VP of products. "In talking to people at the Auto-ID Center and at Sun, we realized there's a good fit for our technology."

Vizional Technologies is a three-year-old supply chain software company based in Santa Monica, Calif. The company focuses on order fulfillment, adaptive planning and execution software for a variety of industry verticals. It uses RFID and other data capture technologies to provide the real-time visibility that enables companies to respond to changing conditions in the supply chain.

"RFID technology taps in very naturally to our main software solution by providing more up-to-date, more accurate information with a greater level of granularity than what you can typically get," says Vizional CTO Eddie Shek. "There's a lot of good work being done by sponsors of the Auto-ID Center. We want to learn some of the best practices surrounding RFID and share our experiences."

Catalina Marketing Corp. of St. Petersburg, Fl., offers targeted marketing services, including in-store marketing through loyalty and advertising programs. RFID is likely to have a profound impact on the way goods are promoted within retail outlets.
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