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RFID News Roundup

Global apparel retailer implements Checkpoint Systems' RFID for item-level source tagging, inventory and security; Casino Rama installs InvoTech's RFID uniform system, reduces labor by 15 hours daily; Mobiquity warns that security gaps exist in enterprise Bluetooth beacon deployments; laser surgical device manufacturer selects LogiTag's RFID technology; EyeSpy Toys' new system for Nerf blasters puts RFID on target for multi-player battles; New Jersey Institute of Technology team to develop sensor network for flagging infrastructural damage; Major League Baseball installs Bluetooth beacons at two California stadiums.
By Beth Bacheldor
Feb 20, 2014

The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations: Checkpoint Systems; InvoTech Systems; Mobiquity; LogiTag; EyeSpy Toys; the New Jersey Institute of Technology; and Major League Baseball.

Global Apparel Retailer Implements Checkpoint Systems' RFID for Item-Level Source Tagging, Inventory and Security
Checkpoint Systems, a provider of RF- and RFID-based solutions for identifying, tracking and securing merchandise, has announced that a major Europe-based apparel and leisure goods retailer is rolling out Checkpoint's RFID solution at hundreds of its stores worldwide, and the initiative includes source tagging at manufacturers' sites. The initiative will encompass approximately 400 million items annually, and will include RFID-based electronic article surveillance (EAS) systems at entrance and exit doors, as well as handheld readers for performing inventory and cycle counts. The retailer is rolling out Checkpoint's dual-mode Evolve Exclusive E10 RF- and RFID-based systems across 18 countries, and is carrying out an extensive RFID source-tagging program, as well as implementing Checkpoint's Alpha high-theft solutions to protect high-risk merchandise (see Checkpoint Systems Adds RFID to EAS Solution). Unveiled in May 2013 (see RFID News Roundup: Checkpoint Systems Launches RFID Solution to Protect Merchandise), Evolve Exclusive E10 is a range of antennas with fabric panels designed specifically for use in retail stores. The product line preserves current investments in EAS systems, the company reports, by providing an affordable transition to RFID that simultaneously supports loss prevention and merchandise visibility with a single smart tag. The tag is available in EAS RFID-ready mode, RFID-only and dual-mode RF/RFID. The E10 antenna also supports Checkpoint's Wirama Radar technology, which can distinguish whether an item is simply being merchandised near an exit or is potentially being stolen. The European retailer (which has declined to be identified) wanted to improve its inventory visibility while enhancing its in-store loss-prevention capabilities, according to Checkpoint, and is also utilizing the Wirama Radar technology. As a result, Checkpoint explains, the retailer is able to increase its selling area by utilizing the valuable space close to the store exit, without causing false alarms that can affect the consumer shopping experience. In addition, the retailer is implementing an RFID source-tagging program with 1,500 of its product suppliers (building on its experience with RF EAS source tagging) to ensure items arrive in stores shelf-ready. That way, employees need not manually check deliveries or apply labels to merchandise before it reaches the shop floor. With RFID tagging performed earlier, Checkpoint reports, it is easier to maintain perpetual inventory accuracy more efficiently than with manual inventory counts. By using Check-Net, Checkpoint's Web-based platform—which is fully integrated within the retailer's IT system and the strategically located print shops—the retailer's vendors can order and receive fully integrated tickets at the point of manufacture, Checkpoint says. The service, which complies with the retailer's request for high-speed printing and high standards for corporate and environmental social responsibility, ensures the consistency of the brand and the quality of the labels delivered to vendors. The global retailer began the initiative in September 2012 and expects to finish by the end of the first quarter of this year.

Casino Rama Installs InvoTech's RFID Uniform System, Reduces Labor By 15 Hours Daily

InvoTech RFID reader antenna
Casino Rama, a Canadian hotel, casino and entertainment resort in Ontario's lake country, has implemented InvoTech Systems' RFID-enabled Uniform System to track and maintain 15,000 uniforms. The InvoTech system deployed at the resort includes Fujitsu Frontech North America passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags attached to each garment item and Impinj Speedway Revolution UHF RFID readers mounted at all fixed reading stations, supplemented by a Motorola Solutions MC9190-Z handheld reader. The system communicates with Casino Rama's White Conveyors' U-Pick-It automated uniform-delivery system that moves specific uniforms quickly and neatly to the appropriate employee's hands. Casino Rama has a uniformed crew of almost 2,000 employees, according to InvoTech. Helen Cooper, Casino Rama's director of hotel and resort operations, said in a prepared statement that the resort saves about 15 hours a day in labor with the RFID solution. "With our old system, we had to have people on site 24 hours per day processing each uniform item," she said. "InvoTech scans, counts and records entire racks and carts of uniforms in seconds. It is a huge increase in productivity. InvoTech also eliminated waiting lines for staff queuing to pick up uniforms. Now they swipe their ID card one time and their clean uniforms are automatically delivered to them." In addition, InvoTech reports, the solution is helping the casino forecast its budget for new articles, since it tracks how long each garment has been used. Other InvoTech clients include the New York Palace (see RFID News Roundup: The New York Palace Streamlines Uniform Care With RFID), as well as MGM Resorts International, Hyatt Hotels, Marriott, Hilton Hotels, Universal Studios Florida, Wynn Resort Las Vegas and Macau, Madison Square Garden, MSR-FSR Laundry, the Empire State Building, Loews Hotels, Mandarin Oriental and others. InvoTech's international customers include the Venetian Macau Resort Hotel; MGM Grand Macau; Four Seasons Macau; Grand Hyatt Shanghai, in China; the Burswood Entertainment Complex, in Australia; Sheraton Seoul, in Korea; Resorts World Sentosa Singapore; and Palace Resorts, in Mexico.

Mobiquity Warns that Security Gaps Exist in Enterprise Bluetooth Beacon Deployments
Through a series of tests and studies on various Bluetooth beacons—short-range transmitters that use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to provide location-based information to nearby mobile devices—mobile engagement provider Mobiquity has determined that significant enterprise functionality lapses still exist in current deployments of beacon programs. The lapses, which involve monitoring, authentication and authorization capabilities, could impact any expected benefits, according to Mobiquity. The findings are a result of the "Micro-Locationing Project," from Mobiquity Labs, a newly launched applied technology laboratory that explores the feasibility of technology and aims to help Mobiquity's clients design mobile solution prototypes that integrate emerging technologies. The project, according to Mobiquity, found that there are currently no processes in place to monitor Bluetooth beacons, making it difficult to measure whether they are working or effective. Not only does this impact the value of the beacon program, but it could also lead to significant security risks, such as stolen beacons. With no consistent tracking and monitoring processes in place, beacons can be moved from one location to another with no way to track whether a beacon is truly effective. "In general, beacons have vulnerabilities that can be exploited—and it is important to understand the risks and ways to mitigate them," says Ty Rollin, Mobiquity's CTO. "For many of the small beacons on the market, physical security is not addressed in their form factor. Rather, they are designed for easy placement in stores—not for protection against theft." Enterprises need beacons that can provide for the detection and alerting of unauthorized beacon movement, the identification of cloning attacks, and other social-engineering threats against beacon infrastructure, Rollin says, adding that beacons are typically sold individually or tied to some type of marketing platform or service. "From our testing so far, we have not seen another piece of hardware that would sit within the beacon venue that actively looks for those beacons. Some vendors have an application on iOS devices that can be used by a store associate to wander around and discover beacons. This provides detection of beacons, but not real-time monitoring—and especially not a strategy that could help prevent theft of beacons." The study also found that beacons are easy to clone, and as part of the project, Mobiquity Labs was able to clone beacon identifiers onto new equipment, meaning unprotected systems can fall victim to crowd steering and other spoofing attacks. What's more, the lab found that distance is difficult to determine with accuracy. According to Mobiquity, beacons are inaccurate when translating close distances. When placed closer than 12 feet together—a definite possibility in a retail setting, for example—they interfered with each other, making it difficult to decipher one from the other. The lab tested beacons for compatibility with iOS and Android phones and tablet PCs. For the tests, the lab used beacons made by Estimote and Roximity, as well as Radius Networks' RadBeacon. Other beacon sources, Rollin says, were Apple's iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad. Android, at this time, was unable to become a beacon source due to platform limitations. "Our testing was focused on how commodity hardware integrated with mobile phones, and how easy or hard that integration was versus the understandings in the market place," Rollin says. All of these beacons provided an iBeacon BLE interface with varying levels of attributes specific to an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), he notes. The lab, which was launched in late 2013, will look at a new class of beacons that have security built into them. When the lab started, "equipment was limited from the beacon OEMs," Rollin says, adding that the facility will also examine new testing strategies to mitigate social-engineering attacks and other less-understood issues, such as multi-app triggering.

Laser Surgical Device Manufacturer Selects LogiTag's RFID Technology
LogiTag Systems, a provider of RFID solutions and high-value inventory-management systems, has announced that its LogiRead RFID solution was selected by a laser surgical device company. The RFID solution will be placed inside the device and its disposable components, in order to certify that only original parts are being used, and as originally intended. This, according to LogiTag, will help maintain the product's reliability, as well as its end-users' safety. The disposable components, developed by the R&D team at the device company (which has declined to be identified), covers many innovative surgical applications, LogiTag reports, including hyperhidrosis, endovenous laser ablation, laser lipolysis, laser liposuction and proctology. To preserve the treatment's effectiveness, each disposable component is set to operate under strict guidelines, including a limitation on the number of procedures for which each item is used by the practitioner. If a disposable component is used past its lifespan, the device's productivity decreases. The device company will use a variety of passive tags, operating at various frequencies—13.56 MHz, 125 kHz and 866 to 954 MHz tags—with the choice of tag dependent on the device size, disposable usage process and other variables. These tags will be permanently embedded in the disposable components. The readers, solely developed by LogiTag, will be embedded in the laser devices and communicate with control units via an RS232 connection to transfer various information, such as a successful read event and the tag's unique ID number.

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