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RFID News Roundup

TransCore acquires IntelliTrans; PanGo introduces PanOS Platform 4.0 and PanGo Locator 4.0; Gao RFID separates from Gao Tek; U.S. Department of State to begin issuing e-passports to the general public; Swedcom unveils new RFID antenna; ThingMagic, SATO America form partnership, offer RFID products; ABI Research reports 14 percent increase in RFID reader shipments; SkyeTek ships small, low-cost UHF RFID reader module.
By Andrew Price
Aug 03, 2006The following are news announcements made during the week of July 31.

TransCore Acquires IntelliTrans
TransCore, a global manufacturer of transportation-based RFID products located in Harrisburg, Penn., and a unit of Roper Industries, has completed its acquisition of Atlanta-based IntelliTrans, a track and trace software platform servicing the rail and intermodal industry. TransCore will combine IntelliTrans' in-transit visibility, maintenance, repair, yard and inventory-management service offerings with its own RFID and satellite communications products to provide integration for rail, truck, container, barge and intermodal applications. More than 10 years ago, TransCore spokesperson Barbara Catlin explains, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) adopted TransCore's Amtech RFID technology as the standard for automatic equipment identification (AEI) in North America, and 100 percent of all railcars in interchange service are now mandated to utilize TransCore passive tags operating at 902-928 MHz. The firm has installed more than 6.5 million tags and 20,000 readers (interrogators) throughout the rail and intermodal industry. Through the acquisition of IntelliTrans, TransCore will merge its Atlanta-based CarrierPoint organization, which provides Web-based transportation management systems, into the IntelliTrans reporting structure.

PanGo Introduces PanOS Platform 4.0 and PanGo Locator 4.0
PanGo Networks Inc. of Framingham, Mass., has introduced an updated version of its solution for tracking critical mobile assets: the PanOS Platform 4.0 and the PanGo Locator 4.0. PanGo's open, standards-based location management platform and Web-based asset-tracking application are designed to provide companies the asset visibility necessary to increase asset utilization, operational efficiencies and regulatory compliance. This solution is marketed for use in the health-care, manufacturing, transportation and logistics industries, facilitating the location and tracking of assets, personnel and inventory. Available now, PanGo's new products were reportedly created based on input from customers and partners. Version 4.0 enhancements include updated location-management capabilities; expanded event-based notifications; a redesigned user interface across all PanGo Locator applications; streamlined integration with third-party solutions; and improved asset monitoring, reporting, notification and management capabilities. As with previous versions of PanGo, 4.0 supports Wi-Fi tags. A user-management application provides user-based security and authentication, enabling single sign-on for all PanGo Web applications, role-based application access and user/group privileges.

Gao RFID Separates from Gao Tek, Focuses on RFID Market
Toronto-based Gao RFID, a provider of RFID interrogators, tags, antenna, modules, sample packages, evaluation kits and other products, has spun out from Gao Tek (formerly Gao Engineering), a manufacturer of engineering development tools, test and measurement instruments and electronic components for electronic engineers. In a prepared statement, Gao Group CEO Frank Gao, explained, "Our RFID business grows at a phenomenal rate. We have a fast-growing customer base with customers from all over the world, and developed a strong network of VARs and resellers in all of the countries with significant RFID markets. As a result, we feel that creating an independent company dedicated to RFID will serve our customers better." Gao RFID develops integrated solutions designed to serve various vertical markets and is reportedly partnering with other RFID vendors to offer additional integrated solutions. Gao RFID and Gao Tek are members of the Gao Group of Companies, a privately owned consortium of corporations headquartered in Toronto, serving the high-tech sector. The Gao Group also includes Gao Research, a developer of embedded communications software for voice, video, data and fax over IP/wireless, and Gao Engineering, a producer of engineering development tools, test and measurement instruments and electronic components for electronic design engineers.

U.S. Department of State to Begin Issuing e-Passports to the General Public
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has announced plans to begin issuing electronic passports embedded with RFID chips. By 2017, the government expects all American e-passports will eventually include RFID chips containing personal information, says Anna Hinken, a spokesperson for the DOS' Bureau of Consular Affairs. All American passports, she says, have a maximum 10-year validity, and the DOS plans to transfer all passport production to e-passports by 2007, so by 2017, all U.S. passports in use will have embedded RFID chips. In October 2004, the DOS began testing e-passports in an eight-week trial program (see U.S. Tests E-Passports). It started issuing e-passports to diplomats in December 2005, Hinken says, followed by government officials and their families in April 2006. Starting the week of Aug. 14, the DOS plans to begin issuing tourist e-passports for the general populace. In January of this year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) instituted a separate three-month trial to test the RFID technology underlying e-passports (see DHS Testing E-Passports in San Francisco), and in April, it started selecting interrogators and inlays for use in the eventual widespread deployment (see DHS Completes E-Passport Test at SFO). The US-VISIT Program, meanwhile, is testing RFID tags embedded in I-94A forms issued to visitors with nonimmigrant visas (see DHS Testing Tags for US-VISIT Program). "By Oct. 26, 2006," explains US-VISIT's Kimberly Weissman, "Visa Waiver countries must begin issuing e-passports, so any traveler who wants to travel under the VWP must have an e-passport." The e-passports can be read approximately 4 inches from a scanner. The passive 64-kilobyte RFID tags in the passports is being supplied by Infineon Technologies' San Jose, Calif., subsidiary and Amsterdam-based Gemalto. The e-passports meet specifications laid down by the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations standards body that has urged its 189 member countries to adopt machine-readable, electronically enabled passports by 2010.

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