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RFID News Roundup

EPCglobal ratifies reader protocol; Impinj, Lowry ink distribution agreement; Blue Vector adds logic to pharmaceutical RFID implementations; Calif. Senate passes second RFID bill; Starport licensing KU-Tag technology for challenging asset-tracking apps; Tyco Electronics announces DOD RFID kits; Kennedy Group acquires NCR's RFID converting equipment; RFID Journal LIVE! conference attendees can earn CompTIA cert.
By Andrew Price
Apr 27, 2007The following are news announcements made during the week of April 23.

EPCglobal Ratifies Reader Protocol
EPCglobal's board of governors has ratified the Low-Level Reader Protocol (LLRP) standard, which provides a common but extensible interface for linking EPC Gen 2-compliant readers to middleware or other types of networking software. The EPCglobal Reader Operations Working Group produced the standard, with input from more than 90 companies, including end users, RFID infrastructure vendors, middleware vendors, industry experts and networking professionals. In the absence of a standard interface, middleware providers have had to use application program interfaces from each reader manufacturer whose product they wished to support as part of their middleware offerings. If the LLRP is widely adopted by reader manufacturers, middleware providers will no longer need to support the custom interfaces. Instead, they will be able to deploy the LLRP to support any Gen 2 reader using the LLRP interface.

Impinj, Lowry Ink Distribution Agreement
Seattle-based UHF EPC Gen 2 RFID tag chip and reader supplier Impinj has completed a distribution agreement with Lowry Computer Products, a manufacturer and integrator of wireless, RFID, bar-code and data-collection solutions, to resell Impinj's GrandPrix products in North America. Those products include Monza EPC Gen 2 RFID chips and Speedway EPC Gen 2 interrogators. Impinj says the agreement expands its RFID product availability to Lowry's customers, which includes members of the automotive, government, food and drug industries, as well as a number of suppliers to Wal-Mart and the Department of Defense. EPCglobal has given its Gen 2 Compliance Certification and Interoperability Certification marks to both the Monza chip and the Speedway reader.

Blue Vector Adds Logic to Pharmaceutical RFID Implementations
Blue Vector Systems announced this week an RFID suite of products designed specifically for pharmaceutical companies. The suite includes new software that Blue Vector calls "blox," or applets, which extend business logic to the various RFID interrogators and appliances that make up Blue Vector's products. These include Edge Manager, an appliance device that collects RFID tag data from UHF (proprietary active or semi-active, and Gen 2 passive) or HF (ISO 15693/18000) readers; Network Manager, which controls the various Edge Managers installed at dock doors, gates and elsewhere, and also includes interfaces to back-end systems, such as SAP applications; and Global Manager, Web-based software that administrators can use to monitor and manage all the Edge Managers, as well as run reports detailing every tag read. The new RFID Platform for Pharmaceutical Industry contains a library of about 35 blox, says John Beans, Blue Vector's VP of marketing, and is derived from the company's experience working with a number of pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors. The new suite incorporates blox specific to pharmaceutical environments. For example, there are blox that help companies create drug pedigrees, track item-level tags and leverage multiple frequencies—elements common to pharmaceutical companies but not necessarily required by other, more general manufacturers or distributors. The pedigree blox, for instance, could be installed in an Edge Manager set up at a distributor's returns section in a warehouse. When the Edge Manager collects tag scans, requests can be sent to a manufacturer's drug authentication system (such as SupplyScape's RxAuthentication system) to verify the drug's EPC number is valid. The RFID Platform for Pharmaceutical Industry is available now.

Starport Licensing KU-Tag Technology for Challenging Asset-Tracking Apps
Kansas City, Mo., startup RFID solutions provider Starport Technologies has licensed the right to manufacture and market RFID tags based on four pending technology patents developed at the Information & Telecommunication Technology Center (ITTC) at the University of Kansas (KU). The passive tag, developed by Dan Deavours, an ITTC research assistant professor and principal inventor of the KU-Tag, is designed to perform well when placed on or near metal or conductive liquids. Such materials degrade the readability of conventional passive RFID tags. The KU-Tag is slightly thicker than a coin. In testing, tags made using the ITTC technology have been read from more than 30 feet away. Starport is developing two RFID tags that leverage the technology and are designed for asset-tracking applications, in environments where metal or liquids are present. Production samples of the products will be available for inspection next week at RFID Journal LIVE! 2007 in Orlando (booth 604). Commercial production quantities of the two tags are expected to ship in June. Earlier this year, Santa Monica, Calif., container manufacturer Container Technology announced it was leasing the KU-Tag technology (see Manufacturer Tests RFID to Track Industrial-Size Containers of Liquid). Starport Technologies managing partner Jeff Nedblake says his company will provide the tags to Container Technology.

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