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RFID News Roundup

RFID Global Solution opens RFID test center; SATO demos Gen 2 compatibility; Lockheed Martin chooses Zebra printer; Intelligent Systems and IBM collaborate; NCR expands Demo Center; InfoWave upgrades tracking software.
By Ari Juels
Aug 05, 2005The following are news announcements made during the week of August 1.

RFID Global Solution Opens RFID Test Center
RFID systems integrator and reseller RFID Global Solution of Mount Airy, Md., opened the Innovation Center in Rogers, Ark., to give its customers a place to test RFID equipment. The 13,000-square-foot laboratory is equipped with RFID hardware and software from Alien Technology, PSC, SAMSys, Sirit, Symbol, ThingMagic, WJ Communications and Zebra Technologies. RFID-enabled equipment, including dock-door portals, smart shelves (for item-level tracking), a box-crusher, a point-of-sale system and an anti-theft system, can be tested in the center's simulated retail and manufacturing environments. Such environments include a warehouse shipping/receiving dock and a retail dressing room. Monitors throughout these areas show how RFID data is being processed in real time in a simulated back-end IT system. Customers can also test active technology from Savi and WaveTrend at the center. An open house for the new center is set for August 30.

SATO Demos Gen 2 Compatibility
SATO America, a provider of EPC/RFID printing solutions based in Charlotte, N.C., has demonstrated Gen 2 upgraded prototypes of its CL408e and CL412e RFID-enabled thermal bar code printers. These printers can encode smart labels with EPC Gen 2 UHF Class 1 inlays. The demonstration was conducted in SATO's RFID testing labs. The RFID module used in the CL408e and CL412e printer-encoders can also encode inlays compliant with EPC Class 1 and Class 0+, as well as with ISO 18000 standards, which have been widely adopted throughout Europe. SATO says the Gen 2 upgrade for the CL408e and CL412e will be offered commercially once Gen 2 tags become readily available and SATO's upgrade firmware is complete.

Lockheed Martin Chooses Zebra Printer
Vernon Hills, Ill.-based Zebra Technologies, a provider of RFID printing solutions, has been awarded a contract by defense contractor Lockheed Martin to provide it with RFID label printer/encoders and labels. Lockheed Martin will use the Zebra equipment and supplies to create smart labels for items it ships to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), to satisfy the DOD's RFID mandate. Zebra says it is the first printer manufacturer to earn a contract to supply Lockheed Martin with RFID products. Zebra will also provide Lockheed Martin with its ZebraNet Bridge printer manager software, to remotely configure and manage its dispersed network of Zebra printers. According to a news release from Zebra, Lockheed Martin will initially use the Zebra printer/encoders and supplies to create EPCglobal Class 1 RFID labels, and will migrate to the EPC Gen 2 standard in accordance with DOD requirements.

Intelligent Systems and IBM Collaborate
Intelligent Systems, an Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based division of MeadWestvaco, develops systems for item-level tracking of RFID-tagged goods. The company has announced it has joined IBM's PartnerWorld Industry Networks. Through a strategic partnership, the companies will collaborate on developing item-level RFID solutions and software for retail environments. This partnership will allow Intelligent Systems to take advantage of IBM's marketing and technical resources in the retail item-level RFID industry. The PartnerWorld network is comprised of independent software vendors and other organizations; its members can team up with IBM to bring products to market that meet specific industry needs. Intelligent Systems has also achieved IBM Ready for Store Integration Framework Validation, a technical validation required for hardware or software applications running on IBM's open standards-based middleware in retail environments. Intelligent Systems' retail shelf readers support hundreds of antennas and use a patent-pending approach to control them. This reduces the amount of hardware required for item-level tracking solutions.

NCR Expands Demo Center
NCR, a technology company that makes point-of-sale terminals and data management systems, is expanding its RFID demonstration center in Atlanta. Originally opened in 2002 as the NCR RFID Demonstration Center, it is being expanded from 360 square feet to 1,500 square feet and will be renamed TransitionWorks. The center, expected to open in September, will provide new and existing NCR customers with resources to help them develop RFID tagging systems. There is no fee to use the center. NCR is working with various RFID technology vendors to populate the center with hardware and software products that customers, working with NCR employees, will use to conceptualize and design their RFID tagging systems. NCR says the center will include some new RFID solutions and services, including consulting services, fixed and mobile UHF interrogators, middleware and data management software platforms, and an automated smart labeling system. NCR also says it plans to announce new centers in Europe and Asia in the near future.

InfoWave Upgrades Tracking Software
InfoWave Solutions, an Indianapolis, Ind., provider of location-based software solutions, announced the third generation of its Activate location-based asset management and tracking software, which uses data from active RFID and real-time location systems. The company says Activate 3.0 was developed to provide users with improved flexibility, scalability and features, such as automatic alerts via e-mail and text messaging, activity monitoring, status reporting, location reconciliation and device battery level monitoring. The upgrade is available now from InfoWave, and users of earlier versions can purchase it at a reduced cost. Pricing information has not been released.
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