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RFID News Roundup

Teradata offering RFID data analytics; AEA criticizes DHS report on RFID; MicroTrak acquires RFID company Fibergrations; HID acquiring card printer-encoder company.
By Andrew Price
May 26, 2006The following are news announcements made during the week of May 22.

Teradata Offering RFID Data Analytics
Dayton, Ohio-based data warehousing services firm Teradata, a division of NCR, has established an advanced analytics facility called the Retail Advanced Business Analytics & RFID Lab. The company established this facility to help retailers and consumer goods companies analyze the data captured through their business process systems, including RFID systems, across the supply chain. The lab is housed at the Teradata Benchmark Center in Rancho Bernardo, Calif. Teradata says it will use the lab and data analysis services to demonstrate to retailers and consumer goods companies how their data can be used "in innovative ways to derive incremental business value." Teradata employs predictive modeling, data mining and RFID data analysis to help companies achieve insights into their operations. Analytical results are presented using data visualization technologies. Teradata says that by adding RFID data collected at various read points in the supply chain with existing sources of data—such as that culled from point-of-sale systems—companies can improve demand forecasting and can better account for seasonality, regional variations, pricing, promotions, distribution and manufacturing constraints within the supply chain.

AEA Criticizes DHS Report on RFID
The American Electronics Association (AEA), a technology trade group, has issued a 10-page letter critiquing the Department of Homeland Security's request for comments regarding a draft report from the DHS Emerging Applications and Technology Subcommittee of the DHS Data Privacy and Integrity Committee, titled "The Use of RFID for Human Identification" (see DHS Subcommittee Advises Against RFID). The letter, which appears on the organization's Web site, claims the draft report "disparages RFID technology without citing quantitative data, generalizes RFID technology and its applications, and arrives at conclusions not substantiated by fact." The AEA is concerned that statements about the technology's application and its security risks made in the draft report "may be accepted as fact when they have been made without pointing to scientific data, field tests or published government reports." The AEA takes the subcommittee to task on two specific statements in the draft report: its claim that the I-94 form is an identity document, and that the use of RFID in passports does not measurably speed up the processing and checking of passports by border agents. The I-94 is not meant to be an identity document, says the AEA letter, and RFID was introduced to U.S. passports to fight forgery and tampering, not to quicken the inspection process. The group says the draft report generalizes very specific RFID applications, suggesting that in the final report to the secretary of homeland security, the subcommittee should "convey each appropriate technology's capabilities and limitations in light of each anticipated application or mission." However, the AEA does "applaud" some of the best-practices suggestions listed in the draft report, noting that "all technology choices should flow from a strong privacy and security policy." The draft report will be presented formally to the DHS chief privacy office on June 7 in San Francisco. The meeting is open to the public.

MicroTrak Acquires RFID Company Fibergrations
MicroTrak, a Dallas-based provider of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) wireless location services and asset-tracking products, and antitheft and recovery systems for automobiles, says it has acquired all assets of Fibergrations. This privately held RFID product and services firm, based in Nashville, Tenn., provides warehouse management systems. MicroTrak will use the acquisition to help it launch MicroTrak RFID, a new business unit that will be based in Nashville and run by current Fibergrations executives. MicroTrak RFID will offer customers combined RFID-GPS tracking services. MicroTrak notes that it will launch a patent-pending device combining RFID and GPS technologies into one unit, adding that it will announce its first GPS-RFID application in the coming weeks.

HID Acquiring Card Printer-Encoder Company
Lock company Assa Abloy's presence in the access-card industry is growing. The company's Identification Technology Group (ITG) recently purchased Austrian contactless cards manufacturer Schwab & Partner Group (S&P) (see Smart-card Market Sees Two Acquisitions), and now HID Global Corp. (also owned by Assa Abloy) says it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Fargo Electronics, a provider of products for printing and encoding RFID access and identification cards. Fargo's printers are capable of encoding data to Sony's MiFare or HID's iClass smart card chips, both of which operate at 13.56 MHz. HID says it has a long-standing relationship with Fargo, and that its decision to purchase Fargo will enable the two companies to pursue opportunities jointly in the secure identification field, such as developing solutions for printing fraud-proof identity credentials for corporations or government. HID provides contactless access control cards and readers, and sells other security products for corporations and governments globally through a network of OEM, distribution and installer channels. HID has not shared the amount of the cash transaction, but says it is expected to close at the end of the third quarter, subject to approval from Fargo stockholder and government regulators.
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