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RFID News Roundup

Technology Solutions UK Ltd. intros wearable, Bluetooth-enabled RFID reader; Metalcraft announces Universal Mini RFID Asset Tag; Data Foundry optimizes airflow with RF Code's RFID technology; Securitag Assembly Group unveils new RFID tags for asset tracking and inventory control; iCOMP Technology announces 'Tag Talks Only' UHF RFID chip; Qualcomm provides Bluetooth beacons for Major League Baseball's 'At The Ballpark' app.
By Beth Bacheldor
Mar 20, 2014

The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations: Technology Solutions UK Ltd.; Metalcraft; Data Foundry, RF Code; Securitag Assembly Group; iCOMP Technology; and Qualcomm.

Technology Solutions Intros Wearable, Bluetooth-enabled RFID Reader

TSL's 1153 Bluetooth Wearable UHF RFID Reader
Technology Solutions UK Ltd. (TSL) has introduced its 1153 Bluetooth Wearable UHF RFID Reader, designed to be worn on a user's hand so he or she can remain mobile. The 1153 reader, which supports the EPC Gen 2 and ISO 8000-6C standards, can communicate via Bluetooth wireless technology with a variety of host devices, including enterprise handhelds, consumer phones, touchscreen MP3 players, tablets and PCs. Measuring 10.1 centimeters long by 5.5 centimeters wide by 5.6 centimeters (4 inches by 2.2 inches by 2.2 inches) high, the reader has a trigger-shaped grip that fits over a user's fingers. It also includes a 2D bar-code scanner and incorporates TSL's ASCII 2 protocol, which provides a set of commands and supporting RFID software development kits (SDKs) that, according to TSL, carry out multiple actions locally within the reader, allowing multiple tag operations to be executed using simple preconfigured ASCII commands. The reader is compatible with devices running a variety of operating systems, including Android, Apple's iOS, and Microsoft's Windows Mobile, WinCE, XP, Vista, 7 and 8. TSL provides a free inventory-tracking RFID reader app for iOS devices at iTunes, and for Android devices at Google Play. The company will demonstrate the 1153 Bluetooth Wearable UHF RFID Reader at RFID Journal LIVE!, taking place in Orlando, Fla., on Apr. 8-10, at TSL's booth (119).

Metalcraft Announces Universal Mini RFID Asset Tags

Metalcraft's Universal Mini RFID Asset Tag
Metalcraft has announced the availability of its Universal Mini RFID Asset Tag, which the company says is designed to fit where other tags cannot, while still delivering read ranges of up to about 12 feet, regardless of the mounting surface. At just 2.75 inches long by 0.75 inch wide and 0.05 inch thick, the ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) inlay employs Alien Technology's Higgs3 chip optimized for use at 915 MHZ. Metalcraft can custom-print bar codes and other information on the label. The RFID inlay adheres to a durable, flexible label with subsurface printing that protects bar-code, logo and other information from chemicals and abrasion. The bar code and human-readable information can be programmed into the RFID inlay provided that the data is in decimal or hexadecimal (A-F, 0-9) format. Metalcraft custom-encodes the information to the tag's Electronic Product Code (EPC) and user memory banks. All Universal RFID tags are password-locked. If desired, Metalcraft can encode information that differs from the bar code and human-readable data. The password can be designated by Metalcraft, or, if desired, customers can choose their own specific password. Metalcraft's other Universal RFID tags include the Universal RFID Asset Tag and the Universal RFID Hard Tag (see RFID News Roundup: Metalcraft Announces Universal RFID Tags). The new Universal Mini RFID Asset Tag will be on display at RFID Journal LIVE!, taking place in Orlando, Fla., on Apr. 8-10, at MetalCraft's booth (710B).

Data Foundry Optimizes Airflow With RF Code's RFID Technology
Data center operator Data Foundry is using RFID-enabled sensors and software provided by RF Code throughout its data centers across the United States, in order to help maximize the efficiency of cooling distribution and thereby assure its customers of compliance with energy usage regulations, as well as offer the most cost-effective services. The sensors provide Data Foundry with real-time intelligence to ensure that it maintains the temperatures of the hardware in its data centers within an acceptable range. Previously, Data Foundry relied on intermittent batch temperature readings. RF Code's asset-management and environmental-monitoring solutions utilize active 433 MHz RFID, which delivers a continuous stream of data regarding asset location and the environmental conditions surrounding those items, according to Gregg Primm, RF Code's director of inbound marketing. Data Foundry is using RF Code's High-Performance Temperature Sensors to automatically collect real-time data and attain visibility into the thermal conditions in and around its equipment, Primm says, and the firm needs to be able to safely adjust temperature set points and save energy without incurring an increased risk of downtime or equipment failure. An RF Code sensor is about the size of a matchbox and features a long-life battery, with approximately five years on a single user-replaceable coin cell battery. When the battery's power level drops to below a 20 percent charge, the tag will issue a low-battery warning as part of its beacon data, thereby allowing users to avoid data loss and plan for replacing the battery when convenient. The sensors' deployment costs are low, Primm says, because there is no need to run wires back to control boxes or blocks. The sensor tag's beacon data is picked up by RF Code's M250 fixed reader (which features a read range of about 100 yards in an open-air environment), with a single reader typically covering approximately 3,000 to 5,000 square feet within a data center. The sensor's beacon data is then loaded into RF Code's Asset Manager software for storage, as well as for use in creating reports, generating graphs, issuing alerts and alarms in the event that a temperature falls outside of acceptable limits, and so forth. Data Foundry is using the sensors to monitor dry bulb air temperature, since the humidity is very consistent within the facilities. The sensors are affixed to the fronts of equipment cabinets, using zip ties and double-stick tape. The company employs RF Code's Asset Manager software to provide a mapped overview of the data hall, says Edward Henigin, Data Foundry's CTO, for ad hoc review and for surveying the overall situation in the room. "This is how we look for patterns and deviations from patterns in the room, which we can then use to investigate and remediate issues," he explains. The sensors help ensure that Data Foundry follows a variety of airflow best practices. For example, if a sensor indicates it is warmer than other nearby sensors, it is often because someone removed blanking panels but failed to replace them." We can quickly restore the cabinet back to its proper configuration, with blanking panels, when we're alerted," Henigin states. The sensors also help to identify incorrectly mounted hardware, such as switches or firewalls that were installed backwards in cabinets, he says, causing them to draw in hot air from the hot aisle, while blowing hot air into the cold aisle. Moreover, the sensors help correct cold air volumes. "If we investigate a high-temp sensor reading and discover that there simply isn't enough cold air for the cabinet, we could change the perforated floor tile configuration to provide more air," he says. "If the temperature sensors are all reading at the low end of the range, we know we can safely drop the fan speed in our air handlers, and/or lower the fan speeds of the CRAHs [computer room air handlers]. This is important to not waste energy. Data centers must be green, and producing excessive cold air is where a lot of energy is wasted." Data Foundry has utilized the Rack Cooling Index (RCI) and Return Temperature Index (RTI) capabilities of RF Code's data center management software to ensure compliance with ASHRAE's guidelines, which are designed to help businesses safeguard their IT equipment while lowering energy consumption. Data Foundry used RF Code's application programming interface (API) to pull the per-sensor data into its existing core network monitoring engine. "In our network monitoring engine, we are trending and alarming on the data," Henigin says. "This way, we get proactive notification when individual sensors go above or below bounds, and our operations team can manage those alerts in the same interface as all our other monitoring. We also report out of that data."

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