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RFID News Roundup

Dow joins EPCglobal; Gartner says RFID to grow to $3 billion in 2010; Zebra announces Gen 2 firmware availability; Symbol, Vue developing item-level tracking solutions; RFID in China: uneven growth; Gen 2 start kits from Avery Dennison Printer Systems; ToP Shop selling Rafsec, other RFID goods; NCR partnership targets Mediterranean market; Inside Contactless raises €9 million.
By Andrew Price
Dec 16, 2005The following are news announcements made during the week of Dec. 12.

Dow Joins EPCglobal
The Dow Chemical Co. says it is now a member of EPCglobal US, the U.S. branch of the organization driving the adoption of and standards for Electronic Product Code (EPC) technology. Dow says it has already deployed four different applications combining RFID, GPS and bar code technology to track assets, manage inventory, provide security and order fulfillment. The company says its membership in EPCglobal will enable it to become involved in standards development and help it drive the use of RFID/GPS to add efficiencies and security to the chemical industry supply chain. Dow says it is developing new applications for RFID/GPS technology, which it plans to unveil soon. EPCglobal US serves more than 550 subscribing companies in the United States.

Gartner Says RFID to Grow to $3 billion in 2010
Worldwide RFID spending is expected to total $504 million in 2005, up 39 percent from 2004, and will surpass $3 billion in 2010, according to a report that research firm Gartner released this fall and announced this week. Market Share and Forecast: Radio Frequency Identification, Worldwide, 2004-2010 is Gartner's first RFID market size, share and forecast report. In another report, RFID Enables Sensory Network Strategies to Transform Industries, Gartner examines drivers and barriers to RFID adoption in various vertical industries. The research firm says that if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires members of the pharmaceutical supply chain to use RFID to help combat drug diverting and counterfeiting, applications of RFID in the pharmaceutical supply chain will increase sharply in 2007. Industries with the greatest opportunities to use RFID include retail and aerospace and defense, says Gartner, while health care, logistics and pharmaceutical companies are adopting it most quickly. Those expecting RFID to replace bar codes, however, will be disappointed, says Gartner's research vice president, Jeff Woods, who believes companies will continue to use bar codes in controlled, process-engineered environments. RFID, he predicts, will get a stronger foothold in more ad hoc environments such as those found in the retail or health care markets, where goods are not organized in a manner that facilitates the scanning of bar codes, which require line-of-sight access. Woods adds that companies are also more likely to build new business processes around RFID than they are to integrate RFID into existing processes. The industry report costs $1,295, while the market forecast report costs $9,995. Both are available on Gartner's Web site.

Symbol, Vue Developing Item-Level Tracking Solutions
RFID systems vendor Symbol Technologies and Vue Technology, a provider of item-level RFID solutions, say they are jointly developing integrated item-level RFID solutions for delivery to retailers and manufacturers. The solutions will combine Vue Technology's patent-pending RF Networking technology and EPC management software with Symbol's RFID fixed and handheld readers, tags and peripheral devices. Designed to give users visibility into inventory levels, location and authenticity of goods in order to reduce out-of-stocks, shrinkage and labor costs, the solutions will be branded under the name "TrueVUE" and will enable users to track individual goods from the point of manufacture to sale. The cost benefits of using RFID for item-level tracking is strongest for high-value goods and within specific vertical industries, such as consumer electronics. Best Buy, a consumer electronics retailer, says it plans to begin extending its case and pallet RFID tracking mandate to include some goods at the item level, as well.

Zebra Announces Gen 2 Firmware Availability
Zebra Technologies, a Vernon Hills, Ill.-based manufacturer of RFID printer-encoders, says a free firmware Gen 2 upgrade is now available for its RXi series printer-encoders, RPAX4 series print engines and European R4Mplus printer-encoders. No hardware replacement or service call is required to process the upgrade, and Zebra customers can download the Gen 2 firmware upgrade and installation instructions at Zebra's Web site. With the firmware installed, the printer-encoders will be able to encode RFID inlays compliant with the UHF EPCglobal Class 1 Gen 2 standard, the company reports, as well as any other tag protocols they currently support.

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