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RFID News Roundup

Intelleflex announces new semi-passive tag; Korea Airport Assoc. buying UPM bag-tags; TDK achieves prototype thin-film transistor tags; TI entering e-passport market; Magellan offering licensing for anti-collision IP; Dust Networks unveils WirelessHART-based sensor networking products; VeriChip, Digital Angel partner with Receptors LLC to develop glucose sensor.
Sep 28, 2007The following are news announcements made during the week of Sept. 24.

Intelleflex Announces New Semi-Passive Tag
The latest battery-assisted passive UHF RFID tag from Intelleflex performs well despite the presence of metal, water and other RF interference sources, the company reports. The SMT-7100 tag incorporates Intelleflex's patent-pending "inverted F-plane" antenna design. This, Intelleflex claims, helps improve the tag's readability around metal by exploiting the tendency of RF signals to reflect off nearby metal objects. The tag features a durable casing designed to protect it against physical impact and damage, and also has an IP67 rating, signifying its protection against damage from moisture, dust and vibration. It can be mounted via adhesives, screws or plastic cable ties. According to Intelleflex, the tag can be read from up to 50 meters away, and is well-suited for applications where standard passive tags do not provide sufficient read range. These include yard management or tracking assets such as totes or trucks in a large distribution center or warehouse. Intelleflex says it is now taking orders for the SMT-7100 tag, which operates at 902-928 MHz, as well as the SMT-7100-EU, a version optimized to operate in the 865-868 MHz frequency range used in Europe. The company will provide demonstrations of the tag in its booth at the EPC Connection 2007 conference and exhibition, which will take place in Chicago, Oct. 2-4.

Korea Airports Buying UPM Bag-Tags
Tag maker UPM Raflatac says it will supply 350,000 UHF EPC Gen 2 passive RFID inlays to Korea Airports Corp., which manages the nation's airports. The organization will use the tags for airline baggage tracking. UPM Raflatac designed the inlay—known as a Rabbit tag—specifically for baggage-tracking applications. It has a dual dipole antenna that is not highly sensitive to its orientation to an interrogator's signal, thereby increasing the read rates of tags placed at inconsistent angles to reader antennas. This feature is important because baggage-handling equipment does not always place a piece of luggage on a conveyor in such a way as to position the tag directly facing a reader's antenna. Korea Airports hopes the use of RFID for tracking bags will improve its logistics efficiency and reduce the quantity of lost or damaged baggage. Korea's Asiana Airline has been actively developing RFID-based baggage-tracking programs at the airports it serves since 2005, and is currently planning a pilot project with San Francisco International Airport (see San Francisco Airport OKs RFID Bag-Tracking Pilot).

TDK Achieves Prototype Thin-Film Transistor Tags
TDK, a Japanese manufacturer of recording media, electronic materials and components, has partnered with Semiconductor Energy Laboratory Co., a Japanese developer of printed electronics, to create an RFID tag formed with an RFID integrated circuit (IC) and an antenna using thin-film transistor (TFT) technology on a polyethylene terephthalate (PET) flexible substrate. TDK says the group has made both a high frequency (13.56 MHz) prototype, and one designed for use in the ultrahigh-frequency (UHF—roughly 900 MHz) range. The HF and UHF prototypes measure 10 mm square and 35 mm by 53 mm, respectively, and 30 μm in thickness. They can be embedded in paper as thin as 100 μm, the company indicates. The groups are now experimenting with potential manufacturing processes for the tags and discussing their practical applications. TDK plans to demonstrate the prototypes at the CEATEC JAPAN 2007 electronics conference, which begins Oct. 2, 2007.

TI Entering E-Passport Market
Texas Instruments has announced plans to enter the electronic-passport market with the introduction of an IC designed for e-passports and other government-issued, RFID-enabled identity documents requiring RF chips able to store large amounts of secure data and support high-speed data transmissions and encoding. The new chip will use Ferroelectric Random Access Memory (FRAM) technology, says V.C. Kumar, manager of TI's government ID program. Most existing e-passport chips employ Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory (EEPROM) technology, which Kumar says has a slower encoding speed, requires more voltage to excite and is less reliable than FRAM. In the coming weeks, Kumar says, TI will announce specific product details and partnerships in e-passport manufacturing.

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