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RFID News Roundup

Zebra Technologies debuts new solutions and IoT applications; William Frick & Co. introduces two new SmartMark RFID tags; Murata expands HF RFID tag family for tracking, certification and authentication applications; Q-Track unveils near-field RFID tag that weighs less than 2 ounces; RFTrail announces new RFID cart auditing tool for auditing assets; Xtreme RFID, Vizenex announce new mount-on-metal tag; Alien Technology launches European commercial four-port fixed UHF reader.
By Beth Bacheldor
Apr 10, 2014

The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations: Zebra Technologies; William Frick & Co.; Murata; Q-Track; RFTrail; Xtreme RFID, Vizenex RFID; and Alien Technology.

Zebra Technologies Debuts New Solutions and IoT Applications
Zebra Technologies has unveiled three new EPC Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C compliant RFID solutions—the ZT400 RFID Series, ZE500R and ZXP series 7 with UHF encoding—at the RFID Journal LIVE! 2014 conference and exhibition, held this week in Orlando, Fla. In addition, the company demonstrated Zebra's new cloud-based Internet of Things (IoT) platform, known as Zatar. The ZT400 RFID Series are mid-range industrial printers that support a wide range of media capabilities and media-delivery options to print RFID labels for almost any application. Available in 4-inch and 6-inch models, the printer will be available for purchase later this month. The ZE500R print engine includes advanced RFID features designed to provide greater tracking capabilities for improved operational efficiencies. For example, Zebra reports, it features a quick-change module drive system to reduce printer repair time, and all three rollers can be exchanged in minutes, with no need to access the printer's electronics. The new ZXP Series 7 with UHF Encoding card contains Zebra's patented antenna design and Impinj's Monza 4QT chip. It provides a read range of up to 50 feet, according to the company, making it suitable for identification, access control and transaction processes. It can be used, for instance, to track people in order to increase personal safety and facility security, capture guest and visitor data at live events and conferences, and enhance the customer experience by enabling guests to easily share information with their social-media contacts. The 48-bit unique ID feature protects against card cloning and provides a card authentication method to uniquely identify every card. Zatar is a Web- and cloud-based IoT integration platform for connecting legacy and smart devices—such as iBeacons, printers and RFID readers—to the Internet, and enabling third-party applications to easily work with the devices over an open-source application programming interface (API). It is designed to let companies control their IoT devices (such as RFID tags and sensors), share IoT data and access to IoT devices, and add social-media functions to IoT devices, among other things. Earlier this month, Zebra announced, with Trimble, that it will integrate Trimble's ThingMagic RFID readers and devices enabled with ThingMagic embedded RFID technology into Zebra's Zatar platform. The Zatar platform's user experience is built to be simple and intuitive, Zebra explains, so that anyone can set up and operate an IoT solution. According to Zebra, businesses rely on devices and sensors to identify, locate and sense conditions throughout their operations. These devices and sensors can easily become cloud-connected to Zatar via the deployment of the Zatar Gateway, which is powered by Intel's NUC (or Next Unit of Computing), a small, enterprise-grade computer that provides reliable local processing, connectivity and security. "For businesses to ensure their data is complete, accurate and available when you need it, a cloud-based IoT solution like Zatar needs reliable connections between devices and users," said John Deatherage, Intel's marketing director, in a prepared statement. "As IoT solutions require true machine-to-machine communications, where actions are executed automatically with less human intervention, the connection and quality of the local computing gateway, powered by the Intel NUC, is even more critical." The owner of a winery, for instance, could attach inexpensive sensors to each bottle within its inventory, and use Zatar to remotely manage that stock. Taking it one step further, the firm could offer a value-added experience for customers by leveraging the sensors to inform them of each bottle's pedigree, temperature, humidity and transit shock history. The customer could call up that item's specific information by using a Zatar application on his or her Apple iPhone or iPad. Other key features of Zatar include the ability for businesses to create their own Zatar apps, Apple iOS Accessibility, support for open standards (Zatar uses CoAP, an Internet Engineering Task Force standard for the Internet of Things), collaborative functions, security functions and more.

William Frick & Co. Introduces Two New SmartMark RFID Tags

Frick's Ultra Long Range RFID tag
William Frick & Co. has announced that it has expanded its SmartMark product line with the addition of two new RFID tag solutions designed for a variety of applications. The SmartMark products are ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 tags that are ISO/IEC 18000-6C-compliant. The High-Performance Metal Mount RFID tag can be read directly on metal surfaces from a distance of up to 20 feet, which William Frick & Co. says is ideal for tracking such metal assets as fleet trucks, forklifts and tractors, as well as IT equipment. It features an Alien Technology Higgs-3 chip and has multiple mounting options, ranging from permanent adhesive to a magnetic backing for quick removal and reuse. The Ultra Long Range RFID tag can be read from 65 feet away, the company reports, making it a suitable solution for tagging overhead assets, such as pole-mounted transformers or cables. It features a Monza 3 chip from Impinj. Both tags are outdoor-durable and offer ultraviolet (UV), water and chemical resistance. The tags can be customized with messaging, artwork and serial information. For applications requiring specific read ranges, William Frick & Co. says it can customize the form, antenna and materials to account for such variables as temperature, impact, abrasion, chemical or UV exposure, and reader and tag position, in order to accommodate a customer's exact requirements. The new tags were on display at the RFID Journal LIVE! 2014 conference and exhibition, held this week in Orlando, Fla., at William Frick & Co.'s booth.

Murata Expands HF RFID Tag Family for Tracking, Certification and Authentication Applications
Murata has announced the expansion of its LXMS series, a family of small, high-frequency (HF) RFID tag products, with the new LXMS33HCNK-167 tag. Operating in the 13.56 MHz band and compliant with the ISO 14443 standard, the LXMS33HCNK-167 tag measures 3.2 millimeters by 3.2 millimeters by 0.7 millimeters (0.13 inch by 0.13 inch by 0.03 inch) and can be used with any reader-writer combination that conforms to the same standard. It features NXP Semiconductors' NTAG212 and has 1024 bits of memory. The tag is ideal for numerous operating environments and surmounts such design challenges as high temperature and humidity levels, according to Murata. In addition, the company reports, the new tag suits a wide range of applications and object tracking, certification and authentication applications, making it suitable for use in the smart device market. The LXMS family of tags features antennas embedded directly into the multi-layer substrate, allowing the tag to be extremely small. The LXMS tag is resistant to harsh environmental conditions; when used with a 200 mW reader-writer, its read range is typically 15 millimeters (0.6 inch), Murata adds. "In the less than 18 months since we first introduced the LXMS HF series, we have made considerable strides in its development. We are always striving to not only meet, but exceed market expectations," said Gerry Hubers, Murata Electronics North America's business development manager, in a prepared statement. "By changing the IC, the LXMS series is truly a NFC Forum type2 (ISO 14443A) compliant tag, making it very favorable for the smart device market." Samples of the LXMS33HCNK-167 tag are now available. Pricing is $1.00 per piece in volume, with an approximate lead-time of 12 weeks.

Q-Track Unveils Near-Field RFID Tag that Weighs Less than 2 Ounces

Q-Track's QT-701 tag
Q-Track Corp has unveiled a new compact, lightweight personal tracking tag that leverages the company's patented Near-Field Electromagnetic Ranging (NFER) technology. The QT-701 NFER Tag, designed for industrial indoor applications, weighs only 1.76 ounces (50 g) and measures only 33 cc in volume. According to Q-Track, the tag employs a unique low-frequency (LF), long-wavelength radio signal to achieve accurate (40 centimeters rms) indoor location results, even in complex, non-line-of-sight environments. Near-field wireless technology, the company explains, is an important and emerging area in RFID. Specific applications include LF and high-frequency (HF) RFID, Near Field Communication (NFC), RuBee (IEEE 1902.1), wireless power transfer and NFER. NFER tags, unlike typical active RFID or Wi-Fi solutions, transmit at low frequencies (1 MHz), and with long wavelengths that typically measure approximately 300 meters (984 feet), according to Q-Track (see RFID Helps Halt Collisions Between People and Robots). This makes the transmission easier to read in what are considered hostile RF environments, Q-Track notes, such as those containing a great deal of metal. The company's tags are battery-powered and employ a proprietary air-interface protocol to communicate with a receiver. Q-Track demonstrated the performance of the QT-701 NFER Tag at the RFID Journal LIVE! 2014 conference and exhibition, held this week in Orlando, Fla.

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