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RFID News Roundup
ACG launches handheld read-write module; S&N, TrenStar expand keg contract; NFC Forum launches four Technical Working Groups; SAMSys introduces Gen 2 RFID UHF reader; Toshiba announces RFID-enabled thermal printer; Tata Consultancy Services opens RFID Technology Center.
Jun 30, 2005—The following are news announcements made during the week of June 27.
ACG Launches Handheld Read-Write Module
ACG Identification Technologies GmbH, a Walluf, Germany, supplier of RFID and smart card components and technology, has released its HF Dual ISO Handheld Reader, an ISO 14443 A- and B-compatible interrogator in a Compact Flash card form factor. This read-write handheld module joins ACG's HF Dual ISO Reader family, which includes an OEM module, Plug&Play board and desktop reader. Suitable for such applications as mobile verification of electronic (RFID-enabled) passports, driver’s licenses and ID cards, the HF Dual ISO Handheld Reader can be integrated into PDAs, laptops and other mobile devices. It transmits data at up to 848 kbits per second, reducing the time required to transfer information between card and reader. ACG reports that this interrogator scored highly on e-passport interoperability tests conducted by the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S.-Visit Program, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Japan’s New Media Development Association (NMDA). The HF Dual ISO Handheld Reader is available immediately. Prices are provided upon request, based on the quantity of readers purchased.
S&N, TrenStar Expand Keg Contract
Denver-based asset management firm TrenStar Inc. and international brewing company Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) are expanding their existing 15-year contract. According to the updated arrangement, TrenStar will buy, track and manage keg fleets that the U.K. division of S&N acquired in 2003 from British cider producer HP Bulmers, as well as others obtained in 2004 from S&N’s Northern Club Federation Brewery operation. The deal adds more than 600,000 kegs to the original 1.9 million TrenStar's U.K. operating division bought in 2002 from S&N. TrenStar will install TrenStarCM, its container management software, and outfit the additional containers with RFID tags. The company provides kegs to breweries as needed, delivers them to pubs, picks them up when done, weighs and washes them and then sends them back to the brewery for refilling. The movement of the kegs is tracked along the supply chain, and brewers can use TrenStar's extranet site to see where a particular keg is at any moment (see TrenStar: RFID With Less Risk). TrenStar is working with S&N to identify other processes—such as managing inventory levels and flagging containers in danger of failure—that RFID might improve. “RFID is key in capturing fresh information because it is nonintrusive, requires very little intervention and carries more information compared to other methods (paper, Web, bar code),” says Jon Quinn, TrenStar's VP of business development for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “RFID enables us to monitor the status of our containers and the product as it flows through the supply chain, from one state to another, and we are better able to make decisions.” This summer, the firm will test RFID-equipped beer containers filled, used and distributed by three U.K. brewers. The trial, Quinn says, represents 7 percent of all beer containers in the United Kingdom.
NFC Forum Launches Four Technical Working Groups
The Near Field Communication (NFC) Forum, a nonprofit industry association founded in 2004 to advance the use of NFC short-range wireless interaction in consumer electronics, mobile devices and PCs, has created four Technical Working Groups (TWGs). NFC, which operates at 13.56 MHz over a typical distance of a few centimeters, has evolved from a combination of RFID and interconnection technologies. The NFC Devices TWG will develop NFC elements for device-to-device, reader-writer and card-emulation operating modes, as well as develop and maintain specifications for interoperable data exchange and protocols for NFC devices to recognize other such devices and determine their function. The Reference Applications Framework TWG will define specifications and recommendations for main-use cases of NFC; specify how to use NFC to configure and initialize wireless links such as WLAN and Bluetooth; and develop a "SmartPoster" application that enables the storage of phone numbers, URLs and other content on smart tags. The Security TWG will address security and data protection issues; define security requirements and a modular security architecture for NFC-based communications; and provide support and guidance to other working groups on security-related topics. Finally, the Testing TWG will handle interoperability and compliance issues; develop test methodology and concepts; and develop and maintain test specifications and processes for compliance testing and approval.
SAMSys Introduces Gen 2 RFID UHF Reader
Toronto-based SAMSys Technologies has unveiled the MP9320 v2.8 UHF RFID reader, a multiprotocol interrogator that can read tags based on the EPC Gen 2 standard. This reader also supports first-generation EPC tag protocols, allowing users to deploy Gen 2 tags alongside legacy RFID installations. Texas Instruments and other Gen 2 tag suppliers have begun using the reader to test their own Gen 2 tags as they come off the production line. The MP9320 v2.8 has also been approved for use in the U.S. Department of Defense’s RFID supply chain initiative (see DOD Awards Reader Purchase Agreements). The reader supports EPC Class 0 and 0+, EPC Class 1, ISO 18000-6A, ISO 18000-6B, Philips UCODE 1.19, EM 4222 and Intermec’s Intellitag protocols. Different versions will be available for U.S. FCC (902-928 MHz), European ETSI (865-869 MHz) and Asian regulatory environments. Currently in beta test, with release scheduled for general availability on July 30, this interrogator has a list price of $2,999. Reseller discounts are available.
Toshiba Announces RFID-Enabled Thermal Printer
Toshiba TEC America, of Atlanta, has announced the Toshiba B-SA4T desktop thermal printer. Capable of accepting an AWID RFID reader module, the B-SA4T features ZyXEL’s Vantage Central Network Management Suite, which allows users to manage networked printers through their IP address and serial number, update firmware across the network, monitor the real-time status of each printer and troubleshoot problems. This printer is available with either a metal or plastic case enclosure and supports a print resolution of either 200 or 300 dpi. A 600-dpi version is planned for early 2006. Optional accessories include a cutter, a serial keyboard interface and a wireless LAN interface. The B-SA4T offers printing capability up to 152.4 mm per second and connectivity with three standard fitted interfaces—parallel, USB 2.0 and Ethernet LAN. The B-SA4T will be available in September 2005; pricing information is not yet available. This is Toshiba’s third RFID-enabled printer, following the release of the B-SX4T and B-SX5T models in November 2004. According to John H. Campbell III, national account manager for Toshiba’s thermal printer division, “The RFID ready printers—B-SA4T, B-SX4T and B-SX5T—now support EPC Class 0 and Class 1 and ISO-18000-6B.” A free firmware upgrade will be available at a later date, he adds, to make them compatible with EPC Gen 2.
Tata Consultancy Services Opens RFID Technology Center
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), an IT services firm with offices in India, Europe and Asia, has announced the opening of its TCS RFID Technology Center in Chicago. It will house off-site teams supporting TCS customer RFID projects in the United States, as well as provide RFID testing and benchmarking for TCS customers worldwide. "RFID is changing the way that many industries do business, from the supply chain to the end user, and has the potential to revolutionize the way companies manage their products," says Arup Gupta, president of TCS North America. The TCS RFID Technology Center, he explains, will provide training and strategic advice to customers implementing RFID in their businesses. Prasad Raju, VP of Tata Consultancy Services and executive sponsor for RFID technology in North America, says, "We are hearing an increased demand from our customers for RFID solutions and services, and our RFID Technology Center will provide access to various RFID hardware and software where our customers can test practical solutions."
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