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New Smart and Secure RFID Labels

French smart card developer ASK is offering flexible smart labels based on its smart card technology.
By Bob Violino
Mar 26, 2003March 26, 2003 - French smart card developer ASK, has developed a new smart label that the company says offers a faster read rate and more security than other smart labels. ASK says its C.label is based on the high-speed communications and security protocol that the company developed for contactless smart cards.

The new smart label is highly flexible because it combines a microchip and an antenna printed on paper with conductive ink. Up to 100 labels can be read in one second. The C.label operates at 13.56 MHz and can be integrated into adhesive labels of any size and shape.
C.labels can be created in different shapes and sizes

The C.label comes in two versions -- ISO 14443- or ISO 15693-compliant. The former is optimized for a higher read rate and security and the latter for longer read range. ASK is also in the process of qualifying a UHF smart label that will be compatible with the emerging ISO 18000-6 standard.

The company feels that its smart card experience is an advantage in the label business. That's because its smart cards were designed for mass transit applications, where riders must get through turnstiles or bus entrances very rapidly and the card must be secure and difficult to counterfeit.

Those same characteristics can be valuable for smart labels used in supply chain applications, says Bruno Moreau, ASK's deputy general director for ASK. "Typically, smart labels use slower communications protocols between the card and the reader because they evolve from other application areas that don't require the same level of security, such as item identification or access control," he says.

Since February of this year, the city of Marseilles in France has been using C.labels to track CDs, books and cassettes in its 17 public libraries. By using ASK handheld readers, the library can more quickly track returns and handle items being checked out. The Marseilles libraries are in the process of labeling more than two million items this year.

The C.label comes with an Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) option, which would protect consumer goods from getting stolen from retail stores. The anti-theft option has a range of up to one meter. Marseilles is also taking advantage of this to ensure items aren't stolen from the libraries.

ASK provides the C.labels along with pre-packaged and OEM RFID couplers and antennas that read from and write to labels, along with a software development kit. A handheld reader, ASK HCR, and a C.label printer are also available. The smart labels cost less than 50 cents each and are available immediately.

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