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RFID News Roundup

Omron package offers compliance, Gen 2 gear; iAnywhere, AWID teaming on interrogators; compliance is king, says VDC; Savi reports two Asian ports offer container tracking; RFID to surpass EAS in smart label market; fractal antenna patent granted.
By Andrew Price
Feb 03, 2005The following are news announcements made during the week of Jan. 30.

Omron Package Offers Compliance, Gen 2 Gear
RFID systems provider Omron RFID has released the Omron RFID One-Day Compliance Package, designed to help companies that supply retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores, Albertson's, Target and Best Buy, as well as the U.S. Department of Defense, to comply with RFID tagging mandates. The package includes the V740 Omron RFID interrogator (preinstalled with Gen 2 firmware, plus a one-year maintenance and upgrade warranty), one antenna, 10,000 4- by 6-inch RFID smart labels, an RFID printer-encoder, EPC software, an indicator light and an antenna mounting stand. The labels, included free in all packages ordered by March 31, are available with either UHF EPC Gen 1 or UHF EPC Gen 2 inlays. Customers can choose 10,000 of the Gen 1 labels, or 5,000 Gen 1 and 5,000 Gen 2 labels. They can also choose the Printronix SL5000R printer-encoder or the Zebra Technologies R110Xi printer-encoder, either of which can encode Gen 2 labels. The EPC software included in the package, RFIDTagManager from EPCSolutions, enables users to commission EPCs and generate RFID label print orders. Also included in the package are installation services from an Omron-certified systems integrator, a half-day of training on the compliance package, and system documentation. The Omron RFID One-Day Compliance Package is available now for delivery and installation. Packaging pricing depends on components, but Omron says it costs less than $20,000.

iAnywhere, AWID Teaming on Interrogators
RFID interrogator manufacturer Applied Wireless Identifications (AWID) said this week it will launch a new series of MPR 3014 CE RFID interrogators with preinstalled Sybase iAnywhere RFID Anywhere appliance-edition software. The software, just released by iAnywhere as a version of its RFID Anywhere middleware for edge devices, allows users to filter tag data within an RFID interrogator, reducing the volume of information sent to the user's middleware or back-end computer systems. The two companies say the RFID Anywhere-enabled devices will link seamlessly with iAnywhere's 2.0 middleware, which helps administrators manage multiple RFID devices. The RFID Anywhere Appliance Edition can also be integrated with other RFID middleware applications, they say. The appliance software supports network authentication protocols, including the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) and active directory, which stores information about resources on a network and provides a means of centrally organizing, managing and controlling access to the resources. The MPR 3014 CE devices will support multiple standard communication protocols, including TCP/IP, HTTP, HTTPS and EPC Reader protocol 1.1. AWID says the readers will be available this quarter, though it has not yet released pricing information.

Compliance is King, Says VDC
Venture Development Corp. (VDC), a Natick, Mass., technology research firm, says tagging mandates are driving adoption of RFID technology among consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers. According to the recently released Retail CPG Vertical Market volume of the firm's annual RFID Business Planning Service—a subscription-based market survey and analysis service—the global market for RFID systems in the retail CPG vertical reached an estimated $161 million in 2005, with hardware accounting for approximately 41 percent. VDC anticipates sales of RFID systems to the CPG market to rise at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 57 percent over the next five years, with revenue from sold and delivered RFID goods exceeding $1.5 billion in 2010. RFID service providers to the CPG market and CPG end users say compliance mandates drove deployments in 2005. According to VDC, however, RFID adoption was slower than anticipated, with less than 1 percent of all CPG shipments to retailers tagged. VDC believes a number of factors restricted more rapid adoption. One cause was the relatively poor performance of RFID tags and other equipment, though it did improve toward the end of 2005. What's more, ISO did not ratify the ISO-18000-6C air interface standard, delaying Gen2 product development and user adoption (particularly outside North America). This CPG-focused publication is part of a yearlong series of vertical market reports that will be available to RFID Business Planning Service subscribers throughout the year. Other reports will focus on a range of industries, such as health care. Each report will analyze RFID activity specific to the market, as well as market forecasts up to 2010. More information, along with a list of fees, is available on the VDC RFID Business Planning Service site.

Savi Reports Two Asian Ports Offer Container Tracking
Savi Networks, the Sunnyvale, Calif., provider of RFID-enabled supply chain and container-tracking technology, says its SaviTrak information services are now commercially available to users of two Chinese ocean terminals, one in Hong Kong and the other in Shenzhen. Last month, Savi Networks announced that U.S. terminal operators Marine Terminals Corp. (MTC) and Trans Pacific Container Service Corp. (TraPac) began offering the SaviTrak service. (see U.S. Terminal Operators Join Savi System). Savi Networks says it plans to announce the availability of the service at ports in Asia, Europe and South America in the coming weeks.

RFID to Surpass EAS in Label Market
By the year 2014, RFID smart labels will represent more than 85 percent of the total smart label market, according to a report by Cleveland-based business research firm Freedonia. The firm defines a smart label as a label that comes with either an embedded RFID inlay or Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) tag (used in antitheft systems) or one that it calls an interactive packaging label. The latter includes such devices as expiration or temperature indicators. In 2004, RFID smart labels accounted for roughly 10 percent of the total smart label demand, the lion's share of which was for EAS labels, used in retail antitheft systems. Interactive packaging labels (which can feature such things as expiration and temperature indicators) are also included in the smart label market. RFID tagging mandates from retailers and the U.S. Department of Defense, along with decreasing prices for RFID smart labels, will drive this change, says the research firm in its recent study, "Smart Labels." The report predicts that U.S. demand for all types of smart labels will increase more than 11 percent annually, reaching 8 billion units in 2009. As companies begin applying the RFID smart labels to individual items rather than just to cases and pallets of goods, demand will jump from 23 million units in 2009 to more than 50 billion in 2014. Demand for interactive packaging labels, meanwhile, will also show strong growth, but the EAS label market will flatten. The 305-page report is available now for $4,100.

Fractal Antenna Patent Granted
Fractal Antenna Systems, a Bedford, Mass., designer and manufacturer of antennas for the commercial, military and government sectors, says it has received a U.S. patent for its RFID tag antenna and wideband antenna technologies. The new patent describes methods of making wideband antennas and RFID tag antennas with fractals, which the company says makes the antennas more versatile, enabling them to be manufactured in form factors not previously achievable. Fractal antennas are based on intricate, repeating geometrical shapes. According the company's CTO, Nathan Cohen, Fractal Antenna Systems is working with another firm to manufacture an EPC UHF Gen 2 tag. Cohen says his company has spent a number of years developing its fractal antennas for RFID tags. In 2003, the firm opened its RFID lab to other RFID developers and manufacturers (see Fractal Shares RFID Design Facility).
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