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RFID News Roundup

VeriSign kicks off developer competition; Precisia to combine Impinj chips, printed antennas; Emerson & Cuming isolators increase read range; Oracle announces partnerships; NEC subsidiary to distribute AeroScout RTLS; Intelleflex offers Class 3 training; Symbol and Philips to collaborate; TI working with 12 vendors on Gen 2.
By Ari Juels
Apr 15, 2005The following are news announcements made during the week of Apr. 11

VeriSign Kicks Off Developer Competition
Looking to spur development of the kinds of networked EPC RFID applications that its planned services will enable, VeriSign has launched a competition to foster EPC networked application development. The competition is cosponsored by a group of software companies, RFID vendors, end users and RFID Journal, and the winner will receive $10,000, as well as a free pass to RFID Journal LIVE! conference in 2006. Ben Desjardins, marketing manager of EPC services at VeriSign, says the contest is open to all developers. VeriSign along with Microsoft and IBM announced the competition at EPC DevCon, an EPC developers conference held as part of the RFID Journal LIVE! 2005 conference held this week in Chicago. The judging panel will include representatives from EPCglobal, market researcher AMR Research, food manufacturer Smuckers and venture capitalist firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers. Entries will be judged on originality, the magnitude of the problem they address and the use of a networked technology and the ability to share information over an IP network, says VeriSign. Entrants will have 60 days to develop and build a demonstration of their application. "We don't expect the entries to be integrated into ERP and WMS systems. Entries don't have to be at the product-ready level," says Desjardins.

Precisia to Combine Impinj Chips, Printed Antennas
Precisia, a company formed by Flint Ink to develop conductive inks for RFID tag antennas, is set to launch a line of RFID inlay products that will combine its conductive ink antennas and antenna designs with RFID chips from Seattle-based passive RFID chip specialist Impinj. The line will use Impinj's new Monza Gen 2 chip and its existing ZumaRFID Class 0+ chips. Precisia says it has already worked with Impinj chips for more than a year and that it will now offer to design, prototype, test and print inlays using the Impinj chips. Precisia says the bulk of its RFID business now comes from printing and selling completed printed antennas and inlays. "It's too overwhelming for companies to implement RFID into their systems and learn everything it does as well as produce it themselves. So we are supplying inlays now and then teaching them how to become self-sufficient [by printing their own antennas]," says Raychee Parmann, business development specialist at Precisia.

Emerson & Cuming Isolators Increase Read Range
Emerson & Cuming Microwave Products, a chemical and electronic materials company based in Randolph, Mass., has developed Smart Tag Isolators—an isolating material that it says increases the read range of passive HF and UHF tags attached to or in the presence of highly conductive materials, including metals and liquids. Smart labels are applied on top of the isolators, which have an adhesive backing. The company is developing a method of integrating the isolator into smart label production, which would remove this application step, but does not know when those integrated labels will be available. Its HF isolator is available in rolls of 1,000 square feet for 25 cents per square inch and rolls of 5,000 square feet for 20 cents per square inch. The UHF isolator is available in rolls of 3,000 square feet for 30 cents per square inch and rolls of 5,000 square feet for 25 cents per square inch.

Oracle Announces Partnerships
Redwood City, Calif.-based enterprise software developer Oracle made three RFID-related announcements this week aimed involving business partners. Intel and Oracle are making official a long-standing collaboration between the two companies aimed at optimizing Intel's hardware and Oracle's software to efficiently process increasingly large data flows from RFID systems. In an agreement with Xpaseo, a systems integrator in Milpitas, Calif., Oracle Application Server 10g and Oracle Database 10g will be embedded into Xpaseo's hardware and software offerings. Oracle and Xpaseo are also working with Mitsubishi Electric Automation on a pilot to track assets and increase inventory efficiencies using RFID at Mitsubishi's North American development center in San Jose, Calif. Thirdly, Oracle announced that it has named 60 vendor partners, including systems integrators, software and hardware companies, as partners in its Sensor-Based Services Initiative. Oracle established the initiative in order to provide training and technical support in integrating data from RFID readers and other sensors into Oracle's 10g enterprise software platform.

NEC Subsidiary to Distribute AeroScout RTLS
AeroScout, a software company based in San Mateo, Calif., announced that AeroScout Japan, AeroScout's Japanese distributor, made an agreement with NEC System Integration & Construction (NESIC), a Tokyo-based subsidiary of NEC, that entitles NESIC to distribute AeroScout's wireless LAN-based real-time location system, called Visibility System. NESIC will develop and offer solutions based on the AeroScout system, and will support the system with customer evaluation and analysis, installation, application development and maintenance. NESIC is expecting its sales of AeroScout products to reach 5 billion yen ($46.6 million) by 2008. AeroScout, citing research firm ESP Research Institute, says the Japanese market for indoor location systems is forecast to grow to 38 billion yen ($354 million) by 2008. Visibility System is designed to help companies wirelessly locate assets and people, both indoors and outdoors, in environments such as shipping yards, hospitals and manufacturing facilities.

Intelleflex Offers Class 3 Training
Intelleflex, a San Jose, Calif.-based RFID product provider, is partnering with Sunnyvale, Calif.-based RFID training provider RFID4U to sponsor Intelleflex DevCon, on June 15-16, 2005, in Chicago. The focus of the conference is development of semi-active technology (also referred to as Class 3 tags), which uses tags that have a battery. Attendees will learn about the use of semi-active RFID technology, as well as active and passive tag functionality, and will receive a developer's kit containing Intelleflex's long-range InfoStructure tags and InfoBeam multiprotocol reader, antennas, required cables and connectors, and a networking host. Registration for the conference costs $11,000 per person (the early registration rate, available until May 14, is $10,000). This fee includes the developer's kit.

Symbol and Philips to Collaborate
Symbol Technologies says it will work with Philips Semiconductors, one of the largest producers of RFID microchips, in the development of interoperable EPC Gen 2 products. "We are going to work together to get Gen 2 readers and tags out to some early customer to help validate the functionality of Gen 2 systems," says Alan Melling, senior director of EPC solutions at Symbol. Customer interoperability testing is expected to start this quarter.

TI Working With 12 Vendors on Gen 2
Texas Instruments announced it is working with 12 RFID printer-encoder and reader manufacturers—Avery Dennison, AWID, Datamax, FEIG, Paxar, Printronix, SATO, Sirit, SAMSys, ThingMagic, WJ Communications and Zebra Technologies—to ensure interoperability between the companies' RFID readers and printer-encoders and TI's Gen 2 transponders. The reader and printer-encoder manufacturers will use the TI emulators to simulate 96-bit code read-write, lock and other functions defined by the EPC Gen 2 protocol. TI says it expect to have sample Gen 2 tags in June and production quantities of the tags by the third quarter of this year.
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