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RFID News Roundup

Smartrac intros new NFC tags with NFC Forum N-Mark compatibility and more; Elatec RFID intros multi-standard RFID readers and starter kit; Nordic ID to resell RFID products under Nordic Plus brand in the United Kingdom; Appy Pie announces BLE-enabled iBeacon for mobile advertising; Nokia's BLE-enabled Nokia Treasure Tag to hit retail shelves in April; SOLOMO Technology launches SOLOMO Exchange Version 2.0 for location intelligence.
By Beth Bacheldor
Feb 27, 2014

The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations: Smartrac, NFC Forum; Elatec RFID; Nordic ID, Nordic Plus; Appy Pie; Nokia; and SOLOMO Technology.

Smartrac Intros New NFC Tags With NFC Forum N-Mark Compatibility and More

Smartrac's BullsEye NFC tag
Smartrac has announced that it is launching a new product line of passive high-frequency (HF) RFID tags made with NXP Semiconductors' NTAG213 chip. The tags, which include Smartrac's BullsEye, Midas and Circus models, come with 144 bytes of user memory with password protection, and are compatible with NFC Forum Type 2 Tags and the ISO/IEC 14443 Type A standards. The BullsEye version comes with the NFC Forum's etched N-Mark, a stylized letter N designed to help consumers locate embedded Near Field Communication (NFC) tags, such as those used on smart posters, food packaging or medicines. The N-Mark indicates the spot at which an NFC device can read an NFC tag to establish a connection. NFC tag, RFID tag and label manufacturers can use the N-Mark once they sign a license agreement (at no cost). In so doing, the companies agree that their NFC tags and labels conform to the NFC Forum's specifications and guidelines (see RFID News Roundup: NFC Forum Unveils N-Mark for Tags). The N-Mark is located in the center of the BullsEye tag. "By introducing our BullsEye NTAG213, we at Smartrac demonstrate our strong commitment to the industry standard defined by the NFC Forum," said Thomas Hitzer, Smartrac's executive VP Product House, in a prepared statement. "As a leading developer, manufacturer, and supplier of RFID transponders, tags and inlays, and as a member of the NFC Forum, we are very pleased to support the use of N-Mark as a universal symbol and touchpoint for NFC." Due to their smaller footprint, the Midas and Circus NTAG213 NFC tags do not carry the N-Mark logo. The Circus model's antenna has been reduced to 20 millimeters (0.8 inch) in diameter, retaining the performance of its 23-millimeter (0.9-inch) predecessor. The Midas, which Smartrac first launched in 2012 (see RFID News Roundup: Smartrac Announces High-Memory NFC Tag) is Smartrac's smallest NFC inlay for the electronics market, carrying the NXP NTAG213 chip's full feature set, Smartrac reports. The three new NTAG213 products will replace Smartrac's existing NTAG203 tag product line. The BullsEye, Midas and Circus tags are now available with the NTAG213 chip with 144 bytes of user memory, password protection and unique ID (UID) mirror functionality, enabling the chip's serial number to be mirrored as part of its encoded URL (see NXP Releases New NFC Tag Chips For New Applications). Thus, according to Smartrac, from an application perspective, every tag can be identified as unique without requiring that users encode tags with variable numbers. All products of the new NTAG213 product line are available in sampling volumes as of now, the company reports, with volume deliveries slated to begin in March 2014.

Elatec RFID Intros Multi-frequency Multi-Standard RFID Readers and Starter Kit

Elatec's TWN4 reader module
To help manufacturers and systems integrators develop solutions for multi-frequency multi-standard readers, Elatec RFID Systems is introducing its TWN4 Tech Tracer Kit starter package. The kit not only offers hardware and software for developing multi-standard solutions, but also helps integrators identify unknown transponders. Elatec's TWN4 reader modules are designed for all current 125 kHz, 134.2 kHz and 13.56 MHz standards, including Near Field Communication (NFC). According to Elatec, the TWN4 works with a variety of transponders deployed globally, from low-frequency (125kHz) tags such as proximity tags from HID Global to high-frequency (13.56MHz) tags such as HID Global's iClass and NXP Semiconductors' Mifare, to NFC tags incorporated on many Android smart phone platforms. One reader capable of interrogating all technologies simplifies supply chain logistics and reduces costs, the company reports. The TWN4 Tech Tracer Kit includes the TWN4 Mifare NFC-PI reader module in a desktop USB housing with handles, as well as a selection of 12 different transponders and a USB stick complete with a software development kit (SDK) and documentation. It also comes with desktop reader mounting options, a snap-in holder and a mounting bracket. The name Tech Tracer is taken from an application included in the package, which can be used to identify and read out customer transponders of unknown standards. One application for the TWN4 module includes devices that are required to be very flexible, regardless of which RFID standard the customer uses. Another application includes access-control systems in the process of being converted to new standards. During these migrations, employee ID cards can be used with different RFID formats simultaneously. "The TWN4 Tech Tracer Kit is perfectly suited for presenting these types of migration scenarios in companies that would otherwise be forced to replace hundreds of transponder cards all by a particular date," said Klaus Nagel, Elatec RFID Systems' director of sales and business development, in a prepared statement.

Nordic ID to Resell RFID Products Under Nordic Plus Brand in the United Kingdom
U.K. automatic-identification and RFID company Nordic ID Ltd., which has been part of the Nordic ID Group for the past seven years, has announced that it is realigning its business and will resell Nordic ID products in the United Kingdom under the Nordic Plus brand. According to Nordic ID, the realignment will enable it and Nordic Plus to work more closely together, especially on developing and providing RFID solutions for existing and new customers. In a prepared statement, Jorma Lalla, Nordic ID's CEO and founder, said retail RFID is growing fast in the United Kingdom, adding "We have worked for a long time with the people behind Nordic Plus—they are true Retail RFID experts." In a letter to customers dated Feb. 19, Mark Tailford, Nordic Plus' CEO, indicated the deal is due to significant expansion of the company's business activities and products, which include handheld and fixed RFID readers, embedded reader modules and software. Tailford told customers, "The name change should also be perceived as an acknowledgement of the size, strength, and diversity of the entire business making Nordic Plus a market leader in RFID solutions in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Our relationship with Nordic ID has never been stronger and we still maintain that relationship and exclusivity of products and support moving forward." Nordic Plus will continue to operate in its current structure.

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