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RFID News Roundup

Checkpoint Systems enhances RFID-based Overhead EAS solution; PINC updates RFID hardware for yard-management solution; Ekahau intros A4+ asset tag and W4 wristband tag; ThingMagic launches Mercury xPress development platform to simplify integration of embedded RFID readers; STMicroelectronics unveils family of ICs for embedding NFC tags in electronic devices; Bombardier Transportation picks TagMaster's RFID solution for mass-transit project in Malaysia.
By Beth Bacheldor
Nov 21, 2013

The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations: Checkpoint Systems; PINC Solutions; Ekahau; ThingMagic; STMicroelectronics; TagMaster and Bombardier.

Checkpoint Systems Enhances RFID-Based Overhead EAS Solution

Checkpoint's Overhead 2.0 reader
Checkpoint Systems has announced Overhead 2.0, a new version of its RFID-based electronic article surveillance (EAS) system, which the company says offers improved inventory visibility and loss-prevention benefits at the point of exit. Overhead 2.0 leverages what Checkpoint calls the OneTag approach—the use of EPC Gen 2 (ISO18000-6C) RFID tags for both inventory visibility and loss prevention—which, according to the company, simplifies deployment and reduces tag costs. Source tagging can be accomplished using RFID-only tags, or with Checkpoint's dual tags, which combine an RFID inlay with an EAS tag (either acousto-magnetic or RF). By dual-tagging their merchandise at the source, apparel retailers are prepared for loss prevention, both at RFID-equipped stores and at traditional EAS-equipped stores, according to Checkpoint. Retailers with RFID source tagging in place can expand to a full Checkpoint Merchandise Visibility implementation, covering receiving, front store/back store transitions, cycle counting and inventory counts, and point of sale. Optimized for use by specialty apparel and fashion retailers using RFID for inventory management, Overhead 2.0 is engineered as a standalone exit-door solution at new and remodeled stores, or with traditional EAS systems at existing stores, as part of a retailer's RFID adoption strategy. The solution leverages Checkpoint's Wirama Radar technology, a combination of patented RFID reader hardware and software. The upgraded Overhead 2.0 console unit, which contains an RFID reader and antenna, covers much higher ceilings and wider retail store entrances than the original Overhead solution. Specifically, it covers entrances up to 20 feet wide and 12 feet high, representing more than a 50 percent improvement in exit door width and a 20 percent increase in height over the original design. The console, which measures 22 inches long, 17 inches wide and 4.6 inches in height (559 millimeters by 432 millimeters by 117 millimeters), is significantly smaller than the previous design, which Checkpoint says allows the unit to be installed in tight spaces for maximum deployment flexibility. Overhead 2.0 also features an advanced electronics design that, according to the company, improves its tag-reading accuracy and performance. Overhead 2.0 is commercially available now in North America, and is slated to be offered in Europe next month, and in the Asia-Pacific region in January 2014.

PINC Updates RFID Hardware for Yard-Management Solution

PINC Solutions' gate-mounted reader (left) and RFID tag
PINC Solutions has updated a gate-mounted RFID reader as part of its ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID-enabled yard-management system. According to PINC, the physical configuration of its gate-mounted RFID reader, which features Motorola Solutions' FX9500 industrial fixed reader, has been simplified by removing the outer steel case. This new configuration, PINC reports, improves cooling and placement options, and is easier to service. The company has also announced that its RFID tags—designed to be mounted onto trailers—are now in full production. Made with a Omni-ID Dura 1500 on-metal passive EPC Gen 2 tag, it is encased in ABS plastic designed to resist heat and cold, and earning it an IP 68 rating, signifying it as dustproof and waterproof. Each PINC tag is encoded with a unique 24-digit PINC ID, assigned and locked at the point of manufacture, and the company adds a unique, human-readable, nine-character hex serial number label to the tag, a 13-character hexadecimal bar-code label and a QR label encoded with a URL. To register the PINC RFID tag, a user scans the tag's QR or bar-code label via any smartphone or tablet. Depending on the fixed RFID reader used, the tag has a read range of up to 50 feet—or, in the case of handheld device, up to 24.5 feet (in North America, Canada and Mexico). The PINC RFID tag is available with permanent mounting capability, using the recommended hardware and drill settings. For situations in which a tag needs to be temporarily attached to a trailer, PINC has also developed a new magnetic removable mounting bracket; the Omni-ID Dura 1500 tag is placed inside the bracket, which uses two powerful magnets to securely attach it to a trailer. According to PINC, the bracket has built-in handles making it easy to remove.

Ekahau Intros A4+ Asset Tag and W4 Wristband Tag

Ekahau's A4+ Asset Tag
Ekahau has announced two new active RFID products for its RFID-over-Wi-Fi real-time location system (RTLS): the externally powered A4+ asset tag and a more rugged W4 patient wristband tag. The new A4+ tag, similar to the A4 tag released in 2011 (see RFID News Roundup: Ekahau Adds Combination IR and Wi-Fi Asset Tag to RTLS Portfolio), features the same industrial design, but can be powered via external battery packs or power sources such as 5V USB chargers, which Ekahau says gives it unlimited operational time. A built-in backup battery enables the A4+ tag to operate when its external battery pack is low or power is cut. The new W4 wristband tag—replacing Ekahau's T301W tag, which will be discontinued—features a watch-like design that sits flat on a wearer's wrist, as well as a tactile help button and detachable wristbands that simplify tag re-charging and cleaning, the company reports. New features (not available in the T301W model) include an IP 67 rating that signifies it as dustproof and waterproof (the T301W was only splash-proof), a bar code for simplified ID scanning and a charger that can recharge 10 tags simultaneously with wristbands still attached, thereby saving time (with the T301W, wristbands had to be removed for recharging).

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