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RFID News Roundup

Intelleflex announces new semi-active, passive products; Confidex releases two metal-mount Gen 2 tags; Sun’s Dallas RFID Center moves to Colorado; Mattel playing with RFID.
By Andrew Price
Oct 13, 2006The following are news announcements made during the week of Oct. 9.

Intelleflex Announces New Semi-Active, Passive Products
San Jose, Calif., RFID chipmaker Intelleflex says it has completed work on its new battery-assisted passive InfoSure RFID tags. The company is also releasing a fixed-position interrogator called the I-Beam, which can read the InfoSure tags, as well as any UHF tag compliant with the EPC Gen 2 protocol. Conversely, Intelleflex says, any EPC Gen 2-compliant interrogator can read the InfoSure tag. The battery used in the InfoSure tag boosts its read range up to 100 meters, improving the tag’s readability around metal and liquids relative to fully passive tags. The InfoSure chip can hold up to 64 kilobits of memory, with 4 kilobits designated for read-write access control and the remaining 60 kilobits segmented into individual 1-kilobit blocks. Users can store information such as shipping manifests, logistical data or maintenance history on the chip. Intelleflex is marketing the InfoSure tag and I-Beam reader for asset-management, yard-management, manufacturing and zonal access-control applications. Preproduction shipments start this month, with general availability expected to begin in approximately eight weeks. The InfoSure tag comes in three different form factors, including an ID badge, and is available for $5 each in volumes of 100,000 units or more. Intelleflex has also completed work on its fully passive 64-kilobit chip. This chip will be converted into ruggedized tags and used for identifying and storing the maintenance history of some parts used in Boeing’s Dreamliner family of airplanes, due in 2008. According to Ken Porad, Boeing’s automated-identification program manager, Brady, Toppan Forms, Confidex and Tyco will convert the Intelleflex chip into tags that will likely be available to Boeing suppliers early next year.

Confidex Releases Two Metal-Mount Gen 2 Tags
Confidex, a Finnish RFID tag maker, has released two new UHF EPC Gen 2 tags of its own, designed for use on and around metal: the Ironside and the Steelwave. The Steelwave tag has a rugged casing, adheres to objects via a strong adhesive and measures 1.8 by 1.3 by 0.23 inches in size. When attached to metal objects, the company says, the Steelwave has a read range of 4 to 6 meters. Designed for tracking parts in assembly lines or locating components in warehouse environments, it operates at 865 to 868 MHz or 902 to 928 MHz. The Ironside tag also operates in these frequency bands and has a 4- to 6-meter read range when mounted onto metal. The Ironside, however, is more rugged, Confidex says—able to operate at temperatures ranging from –40°C to +100°C, it can withstand the intense mechanical stresses found in the petrochemical, automotive, aerospace and maritime industries. The Ironside measures 2.1 by 1.9 by 0.4 inches and can be mounted via an adhesive or bolted with rivets. Pricing information has not yet been released. The company launched its first rugged Gen 2 tag, the Survivor, earlier this year (see Confidex Launches Reusable Gen 2 Tag).

Sun’s Dallas RFID Center Moves to Colorado
Sun Microsystems says it has relocated its RFID Test Center from Dallas to Longmont, Colo. There, it is co-located with the company’s Sun Advanced Product Testing Lab (APT), which provides real-world environmental stress-testing for products and packaging materials, as well as product- and package-design consultation. The RFID Test Center offers interoperability- and standards-based RFID system testing and contains a fully functional simulated warehouse for testing passive UHF tags, UHF readers and RFID-enabled portals, conveyor belt systems and forklift operations (see Sun Puts RFID to the Test). Now open in the Longmont facility, the RFID Test Center is also offering training courses, starting with a hands-on workshop scheduled for Nov. 9. Additional information is available at the Sun APT Lab Web site.

Mattel Playing With RFID
Toymaker Mattel has released a gaming platform designed to entertain video game lovers and card collectors alike, in a system called HyperScan. Players use a handheld controller with an integrated RFID interrogator to read data from RFID inlays embedded in the collectible cards. That data is then used to add power or new fighting abilities to characters in the video game. After a game is complete, winning players can encode the combination of powers and tools they used in the game to the RFID tag in one of their cards, then use this same card in a future game to call up that saved profile. HyperScan comes with one video game console, one controller, one X-Men CD game and six X-Men collectible game cards. The suggested retail price is $69.99. To encourage trading, each game comes with a random set of collectible cards. Additional packs of the RFID-enabled cards can be purchased for $10 each.
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