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RFID News Roundup

CenTrak intros RFID-infrared RTLS for health care; Pliant, PowerID team to develop RFID-enabled stretch wrap; Ontario's Brampton Library opts for RFID; Impinj adds eight vendors to its partner program.
Dec 14, 2007The following are news announcements made during the week of Dec. 3.

CenTrak Intros RFID-Infrared RTLS for Health Care
CenTrak has introduced a hybrid RFID-infrared real-time location system (RTLS) designed for tracking patients and assets at health-care facilities. The InTouch Care RTLS employs CenTrak's DualTrak tags, which combine infrared technology to determine a tag's location, and 900 MHz active RFID technology, used to communicate the tag's unique ID number and location information to battery-powered units called spiders. Similar in size and shape to smoke detectors, the spiders are installed in rooms and other areas. Because infrared signals can not penetrate walls, the use of infrared accurately isolates the asset to a specific room. A room's spider constantly emits infrared signals; sensors on the tag pick up that spider's signal, thereby establishing its location. The spiders and tags use Texas Instruments' MSP430 microcontroller units (MCUs), designed to consume very low power so that the batteries can operate for up to five years in the tags and up to four years in the spiders before requiring replacement. The spiders transmit the location data via RF to nearby access points, called stars, which can be networked on an existing Ethernet local area network (LAN) or Wi-Fi system. The InTouch Care RTLS is now available.

Pliant, PowerID Team to Develop RFID-Enabled Stretch Wrap
Pliant, a producer of stretch film and other flexible packaging products for the personal care, medical, food, industrial and agricultural markets, has partnered with PowerID, a provider of battery-assisted passive (BAP) RFID technology, to deliver an RFID-enabled stretch wrap designed to make it easier for companies to determine whether shipments have been tampered with. Stretch wrap is a clear polyethylene film that clings to itself and is used to bind individual cases together to create a larger load, such as a pallet. Pliant first announced its RFID-enabled stretch film in January, but that prototype relied on a homemade circuit board. That prototype leveraged an electrically conductive trace from NovaCentrix (see Packaging Maker Offering Tamper-Evident RFID Film). Pliant executives say it will take at least a year or two before the prototype is ready for the commercial market. The product under development with PowerID will leverage very thin, pliable wire that is applied directly beneath the stretch wrap as the film is wound around a load. As the film is layered, so is the wire, which creates a single circuit that, once wrapping is done, is hooked to a PowerID PowerG label—a new BAP tag that will be available in the first quarter of 2008, operates in the 865-956 MHz range and supports the EPCglobal Class 1 Gen 2 and iP-X air interface protocols. As long as the circuit isn't cut—which would happen if someone were to rip or cut open the wrapped pallet—the tag is readable. An unreadable tag would signify that the stretch wrap had been cut, and that goods on a pallet might have been stolen or tampered with. Recently, says Jeff Middlesworth, Pliant's principal product developer, the company successfully demonstrated the stretch wrap combined with the PowerID labels at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center's research labs in Natick, Mass. Further tests are planned for next quarter. The RFID-enabled stretch wrap is expected to be available in the second quarter of 2008, Middlesworth says.

Ontario's Brampton Library Opts for RFID
The Brampton Library in Ontario, Canada, has announced that it has selected Bibliotheca RFID Library Systems's RFID labels (which operate at 13.56 MHz and comply with the ISO 15693 standard) on its collection of books, CDs and DVDS—a collection that includes more than 562,000 items, housed in four branches and two interim sites. Headquartered in Switzerland, with a Canadian company in Kitchener, Ontario, Bibliotheca's RFID system also incorporates a BiblioGate, a single- or double-aisle sensor gate that reads tagged items as they pass by; a BiblioSelfCheck self-checkout station with a fixed reader; a BiblioPad, designed for staff to use to write labels as they are applied to items, and to check-in and checkout books for patrons who prefer not to use the self-checkout station; a BiblioWand, a PDA with a built-in RFID reader that can be used to take inventory of tagged materials and locate tagged items on shelves; and BiblioReturn, which patrons can use to return books when the library is closed.

Impinj Adds Eight Vendors to Its Partner Program
Impinj reports that it has added eight companies to its growing list of partners that either resell Impinj's UHF RFID readers, tag chips, and near-field antennas; incorporate those products into their own RFID offerings; offer systems integration of Impinj's products; or develop third-party applications leveraging the Impinj products. New to the list are Acsis, KeyTone Technologies and Stratum Global as value-added resellers (VARs), independent software vendors (ISVs) and systems integrators; Ambient ID Inc., Bentonville International Group, BlueBean and Xterprise as VARs and systems integrators; and Scout Software as an ISV and VAR. Impinj now has 100 partners encompassing distributors, systems integrators, VARs, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and ISVs. According to an Impinj spokeswoman, expanding and developing the partner program will be a strategic focus for Impinj in 2008 so it can offer customers end-to-end RFID solutions.
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