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RFID News Roundup

Logis-Tech to test NATO UID specs; study looks at RFID's growing use by auto industry; Exxon Mobil Speedpass enrollment gets speedier; Domino, Systech partner on print-encode system; Brite iD's e-passport technology gets certified.
By Andrew Price
Mar 24, 2006The following are news announcements made during the week of Mar. 20.

Logis-Tech to Test NATO UID Specs
Next month, Logis-Tech, a logistics solutions company based in Manassas, Va., will begin a series of RFID equipment tests for North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) armed forces. The tests are being done as part of the ratification process of NATO's candidate Standardization Agreement (STANAG) 2290, which is being established to codify logistics requirements of NATO's Unique Item Identification (UID) program. NATO uses such standardization agreements to guide itself and its allied nations in business processes and technology applications. The Logis-Tech STANAG 2290 conformance tests, slated to begin next month, will consist of exercises simulating the movements of military consignments between depots operated by NATO member nations. Outside of testing RFID equipment against the specific technological requirements described in the STANAG, the tests will examine whether the technology solutions selected offer backward compatibility to NATO's existing technology infrastructure, and whether they can operate in compliance with the various radio frequency regulations around the world. Montreal-based active RFID systems provider Syscan International will design, produce and supply its active RFID network technology, as well as provide operational support to the tests. Logis-Tech will deploy RFID technology from other vendors, as well. Syscan's technology, designed initially for cold chain tracking applications, consists of devices that can function as either RFID tags or RFID interrogators (readers). They also support bidirectional communication, allowing one tag to pass data onto another tag, rather than directly to a dedicated interrogator device. Additionally, the devices can transmit identification and sensor data to back-end systems using GPRS communications.

Study Looks at RFID's Growing Use in Auto Industry
The largest current segment for automotive RFID is in vehicle entry and security systems—nearly half of all cars manufactured in North America use RFID-based antitheft systems. Still, Robert Foppiani, an RFID analyst at ABI Research and the author of a new study of the many automotive applications of the technology—"Automotive RFID Markets: Vehicle Entry and Security Systems, TPMS, Automotive Manufacturing, ETC and AVI,"—believes the greatest growth potential for automotive RFID lies in improving the auto manufacturing process, where the technology is used for materials tracking and assembly line automation.The study analyzes how manufacturers are using RFID to improve manufacturing processes as well as add functionality to vehicles, such as tire pressure monitoring systems. The study notes that General Motors and Volkswagen employ Identec Solutions' RFID tags and readers in their manufacturing operations. Other large players in RFID assembly line automation include Escort Memory Systems and, in Europe, Siemens. According to the study, Asia is leading the use of RFID in car manufacturing systems, followed by Europe and North America. The report also looks at how RFID is being utilized for increased visibility and security in the automotive supply chain—for example, by tracking shipping containers of GM parts. RFID systems, such as the WhereNet wireless tracking system, are used to track finished products. The 90-page study is available for download now from the ABI web site for a purchase price of $4,200.

Exxon Mobil Speedpass Enrollment Gets Speedier
Potenial users of Exxon Mobil's Speedpass RFID electronic payment system can now open an account and receive a Speedpass key fob in about two minutes at Exxon and Mobil stations. Station attendants use handheld RFID encoders to enable onsite commissioning of the Speedpass fob and accelerated activation of the Speedpass account. Previously, to open a Speedpass account, customers were required to complete a paper application form, wait for the device to be mailed to them and then call to activate the device. Through Dec. 31, 2006, specific Exxon and Mobil stations are offering a 5-cents-per-gallon rebate to customers who enroll via the Instant Activation Program. The rebate will apply to fuel purchased with the Speedpass device for a 90-day period from the date of activation. Speedpass electronic payment allows customers to make gasoline pump and convenience store purchases by waving the Speedpass RFID fob in front of point-of-sale terminals. Purchases are automatically charged to the fob-holder's account. More than 6 million Speedpass devices have been issued in the United States since it was introduced in 1997, and Speedpass payments are accepted at more than 8,800 Exxon and Mobil retail locations across the country.

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