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RFID News Roundup

South Korea makes gains in RFID market; Certicom releases security platform for wireless sensors; U.S. baseball stadiums and Australian bank try PayPass; new, expanded and merged RFID vendors announced; Omron developing smart antenna; University of Parma RFID lab wins UHF spectrum license; Singapore expands RFID UHF spectrum; U.K. hospital deploys new Xtag patient-tracking system.
By Andrew Price
Apr 07, 2006The following are news announcements made during the week of Apr. 3.

South Korea Makes Gains in the RFID Market
A report by ABI Research says South Korean RFID vendors are gaining footholds in the RFID marketplace, having boosted investments in RFID activities and tag production capacities since last year. The report indicates that the vendors are beginning to compete globally, especially in the UHF segment, which will likely soon overtake the HF in market share. Andy Bae, ABI Research analyst and the study's author, says the increasing tag-production capabilities of firms such as Samsung and LG are likely to have an impact on global tag pricing. "Competition among current overseas vendors, plus South Korean vendors' production volume, will decrease tag price more and more," he says. The report cites the South Korean government's initiative for technology development and national-scale RFID trial services as additional drivers of RFID technology in the region. End users in South Korea are beginning to deploy RFID applications for logistics, retailing, publishing and library services, health care, manufacturing operations, education, government and public services, consumer goods, defense, shipping and transport, and livestock. Of these, the report states, RFID-based applications for logistics and libraries demonstrate the highest adoption rates. In addition, the report looks at how South Korean vendors are working with the government to create an organization for pooling patents related to RFID. The 38-page report is available for download at the ABI Web site, priced at $4,000.

Certicom Releases Security Platform for Wireless Sensors
Certicom, a Mississauga, Ontario, provider of wireless information security solutions, has launched Certicom Security for Sensor Networks, a software module and hardware IP core, or chip component, designed to secure data stored on and transmitted between low-power, wireless sensor network nodes. The platform uses elliptic-curve cryptography (ECC), a form of public-key cryptography, to add a provable identity to sensor devices such as battery-powered RFID asset or sensor tags. This allows network gateways or readers to communicate only with devices assigned to a particular network. The product was designed for use in large sensor networks, in which nodes may be added and removed on a regular basis, used to track high-value assets or products that must be positively and securely identified, such as pharmaceuticals or mobile electronics. The platform would also be useful in applications where sensors store and send sensitive data. ECC cryptography provides an advantage over other forms of cryptography because it uses short digital keys. Long keys tax the limited memory and computing power of onboard wireless sensors. Crossbow Technology, a wireless sensor network provider based in San Jose, Calif., is partnering with Certicom to build the Security for Sensor Networks platform into a version of the Crossbow active sensor tag. The platform will reduce an end user's total cost of ownership by making nodes easy to authenticate and manage, Certicom claims. The company says it also believes a robust security application for wireless sensor networks will speed adoption of the technology.

U.S. Baseball Stadiums and Australian Bank Try PayPass
According to MasterCard, nine Major League Baseball stadiums are kicking off the season with RFID upgrades to merchant point-of-sale terminals, enabling fans to make purchases with MasterCard PayPass devices. Busch Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Dodger Stadium, Fenway Park, Great American Ballpark, Petco Park, Shea Stadium, Turner Field and Yankee Stadium—homes of the St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres, New York Mets, Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees, respectively—now accept PayPass. MasterCard also announced its first PayPass trial in Australia. The credit card company says 35,000 Commonwealth Bank customers in New South Wales (NSW) will receive PayPass credit cards, which have an embedded RFID tag used to make contactless transactions, and will be able to use the cards at local merchants, including 7-Eleven and Subway outlets. For purchases under AU$35 (US$26), trial participants will be able to make purchases without supplying a personal identification number. The trial will run for six months. MasterCard says 5 million PayPass cards have been issued so far, and that 25,000 merchants are currently accepting them around the world.

New, Expanded and Merged RFID Vendors Announced
Independent Professional Management (IPM), a Houston-based consultancy for supply chain and asset management applications, has added a business unit dedicated to implementing RFID-based solutions for its clients. The firm also offers Sarbanes-Oxley compliance services and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems integration services. Dulles, Va., systems integrator ODIN Technologies is opening an office in Budapest to serve the European RFID market. The office will open later this month and is a joint venture between ODIN Technologies, Swiss investment firm MTS and a Hungarian government agency that supports the development of technology in Hungary. In addition, Creative Concepts Software, a Foothill Ranch, Calif., firm that develops software for advanced data collection technology in the retail, health-care and telecommunications industries, has joined forces with Sentinel Business Solutions, a Shelton, Conn., firm that develops data collection and RFID solutions. The merged businesses will operate as Creative Concepts Holdings, and will serve both new and existing clients across the country.

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