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RFID News Roundup

UPM Raflatac announces library tag warranty; analyst firm sizes Chinese RFID market; Visa bringing payWave to Switzerland; Netc announces RFID printing-encoding software for storage-media labels; Tracient introduces lightweight handheld UHF reader.
Oct 26, 2007The following are news announcements made during the week of Oct. 22.

UPM Raflatac Announces Library Tag Warranty
UPM Raflatac has introduced a warranty for RFID tags sold for library book-tagging applications. The guarantee covers the lifetime of a book in standard environmental conditions, which is considered to be 10 years in a public lending library. If a UPM Raflatac library tag fails at any time during the 10-year lifespan, says Samuli Stromberg, the company's VP of RFID marketing, UPM Raflatac will replace it at no charge, regardless of when it was applied to the book. The warranty covers tags used only to track books in library applications, Stromberg says, because such tags are used as part of a well-controlled application where the lifetime of a tag is the lifetime of the asset. Each UPM Raflatac reseller, or systems integrator selling the tags, will provide replacement library tags to its customers as needed.

Analyst Firm Sizes Chinese RFID Market
China's RFID market reached 1.076 billion renminbi ($144 million) in the second quarter of 2007, increasing 23.4 percent quarter on quarter, according to Analysys International, a consultancy that reports on the technology, media and telecom industries of China. Karen Bai, the firm's marketing and media manager, says more than 60 percent of the market is comprised of revenue from RFID-enabled labels, while interrogators, software and services account for the balance. As for applications, she says, 57 percent of the Chinese RFID market is used for identifying products and assets, and more than 80 percent of RFID applications in the country use low-frequency (LF) or high-frequency (HF) applications. That, she notes, leaves most of the balance to ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) applications. According to a recent Analysys report, entitled "China RFID Market Quarterly Tracker Q2 2007," Invengo, Sense Technology and Intermec are the top three RFID vendors in the country, representing 48.94 percent of the total market.

Visa Bringing payWave to Switzerland
Visa Europe is bringing its RFID-enabled payWave payment cards to the Swiss market. Former Swiss national soccer player and TV sports commentator Alain Sutter made the first transaction with Visa payWave this week, at the headquarters of the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) in Zurich, where he purchased a FIFA replica ball. FIFA and Visa have formed a partnership to offer payWave payment terminals at the sites of a number of high-profile soccer events, including the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups, and the FIFA Women's World Cup games. Cornèr Bank is the first issuer in Switzerland to ship payWave cards to Visa accountholders in Switzerland, though only several hundred have been shipped thus far. RFID-enabled cards such as the payWave and MasterCard's PayPass are marketed as a means of making quick and easy payments at convenience stores, fast-food restaurants and other locations where most transactions are made in cash. The European Payments Council (EPC) estimates that in 2004, 85 percent of transactions across the European Union were made using cash. In a prepared press release, Sandra Alzetta, Visa Europe's VP of acceptance and innovation, said the credit-card company estimates that approximately 80 percent of these cash transactions were for less than 25 Swiss francs ($21.45). The company hopes introducing payWave to consumers in Switzerland will lead to more small-value transactions being made with the card, rather than with cash. Cardholders will not need to key a PIN into payment terminals when using the cards for transactions under 40 Swiss francs ($34.30).

Netc Announces RFID Printing-Encoding Software for Storage-Media Labels
Netc, a Trumbull, Conn., provider of bar-code label-printing software and labels for data tapes and other storage media, has released Netc Envision, a software product that companies can use to print and encode EPC Gen 2 UHF RFID-enabled bar-code labels for storage media. The software can interface with data-security, data-tracking and tape-management systems. Netc Envision enables users to write a tape's volume serial number, as well as customized user data, to tag memory. As a security feature, users can also establish passwords to protect and lock the tag so it can not be read without first presenting the password to the RFID interrogator used to read the tag. Netc has worked with its label converter to develop a means of embedding Gen 2 inlays into sheets of labels made to fit Imation's 9840 and 9940 tape cartridges, as well as IBM's 3592 tapes and standard linear tape open (LTO) cartridges. It has also developed an RFID reader and encoder system that reads and encodes the inlays after each label sheet is printed. The company says the Envision software will be available Nov. 5. No pricing information has yet been provided.

Tracient Introduces Lightweight Handheld UHF Reader
Tracient Technologies, a wireless and RFID technology provider in Christchurch, New Zealand, has introduced its Padl-R UF handheld reader, a low-profile, lightweight (6.7-ounce) interrogator that complies with the ISO 18000-6A, ISO 18000-6B and ISO 18000-6C (EPC Gen 2) air-interface standards. The Padl-R contains SkyeTek's M9 reader module and is designed for the collection and storage of data from tagged assets or other goods in remote areas. This data can be later uploaded to a PDA, laptop or other computer via a USB or Bluetooth connection. According to SkyeTek, the handheld reader reduced stock-taking time from around 12 hours to 25 minutes for a retailer in Singapore that tested the device, while achieving an accuracy of 99.9 percent. The interrogator can run up to 12 hours on its internal lithium-ion rechargeable battery and is available now at a cost of US$1,695.
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