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RFID News Roundup

Intelleflex intros RFID badge; Memphis Peabody Hotel RFID-enables its bar; Staples Business Depot to deploy active RFID in more stores; GS1 Hong Kong, Wal-Mart and Chinese agency team on RFID; Digital Angel buys Geissler Technologies, expands presence in livestock tracking.
Jan 18, 2008The following are news announcements made during the week of Jan. 14.

Intelleflex Intros RFID Badge
San Jose, Calif., RFID technology company Intelleflex has announced an addition to its portfolio of battery-assisted passive (BAP) RFID tags, which operate at the 902-928 MHz ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) band (865-868 MHz in Europe and India) and comply with EPCglobal's proposed Class 3 standard. The BAT-7300 badge tag is Intelleflex's first model designed for tracking personnel as opposed to assets; thus, its form factor is slimmer, with a size similar to that of a standard photo ID badge, says Sam Liu, Intelleflex's director of marketing. "Asset tags just aren't designed to be easily clipped onto a shirt," he says. The BAT-7300 incorporates a slot so a clip-on device can be used to attach the tag to clothing, and may also be worn on a lanyard. The tag can be read at distances exceeding 100 feet, even through clothing and when close to the body. It features 60 kilobits of secure rewriteable tag memory, and has an average battery life of about five years. Available now, the tags can be used with Intelleflex's multiprotocol RFID interrogators. Several companies, which Liu says he is not at liberty to disclose, have already begun utilizing the new tags, including a Canadian mining company that's employing them to track miners as they travel in mine elevators, and a casino seeking to monitor its hospitality personnel.

Memphis Peabody Hotel RFID-enables Its Bar
The Peabody Memphis, a hotel well-known since the 1930s for the ducks that walk its red carpet and swim in its lobby fountain, has installed an RFID-enabled system to monitor its bar and banquet operations. Beverage Tracker, from Capton, uses RFID-enabled spouts to provide a clear picture of how liquor is poured for each drink, and how the transaction is handled in the point-of-sale (POS) system. Capton's Beverage Tracker spouts can be fitted into liquor bottles, and the system includes an RFID interrogator and software. The spouts contain battery-powered 418 MHz RFID tags and measuring devices. Whenever a bartender pours a drink, the tipping of the bottle activates both the tag and the measuring device, allowing the spout to measure the volume of liquor poured (in ounces) before the employee tips the bottle back up. The tag then transmits that information to the interrogator's antenna, along with the microchip's unique identification number, and the brand and size of the liquor bottle to which it is attached. The spout's tag has a maximum read range of 100 feet from the antenna. The Peabody Memphis says it chose the Beverage Tracker system to ensure that drinks, such as exotic cocktails, are prepared consistently using the same amount of alcohol. Since May 2007, the hotel has been using the system in its lobby bar and also for banquet operations, including special events leveraging cash bars. Douglas Browne, general manager of the hotel, claims the hotel has significantly reduced its liquor inventory costs and increased revenues associated with free-pour drink control. The Peabody Memphis joins other hotels now using Beverage Tracker, including Embassy Suites Chicago Downtown Lakefront, the flagship hotel within the Embassy Suites brand of Hilton Hotels Corp. (see Chicago Hotel Keeps Better Bar Tab With RFID).

Staples Business Depot to Deploy Active RFID in More Stores
Staples Business Depot, the 270-store Canadian unit of Staples Inc., has added four additional stores to its RFID trial, which leverages active RFID tags to track inventory. In mid-2007, the retailer began using IntelliTracker active RFID tags and readers, a proprietary system made by RFID systems provider AbsoluteSky, to track high-value items within one of its Montreal stores. Fujitsu Transaction Solutions provided installation and integration services for this platform. Since first implementing the active RFID system, Staples Business Depot says it has reduced theft, slashed out-of-stock levels by 21 percent and increased sales of tagged items (see Staples Business Depot Sees Positive Results from Active Tag Test). The retailer also reports that based on the initial implementation, the cost-per-use of the reusable RFID tags—which have a battery lifespan of more than five years—is about eight cents. IntelliTracker is designed to help locate and count tagged items within a store, and to alert staff members of both imminent and successful theft of tagged items. When an IntelliTracker interrogator detects a tag within a defined area close to the store exit and reads its unique ID number, the IntelliTracker software compares that number to IDs collected from the tags of items purchased (sales clerks collect purchased items' IDs using very low-range readers stationed at the point of sale, and are supposed to remove the tags before handing the sold goods to customers).

GS1 Hong Kong, Wal-Mart and Chinese Agency Team on RFID
GS1 Hong Kong has partnered with Wal-Mart and the Trade Bureau of Chancheng District Foshan on a new program designed to help spur RFID adoption among manufacturers and other businesses in Foshan, a city in the western part of China's Pearl River Delta (PRD) region. According to the Federation of Hong Kong Industries (FHKI), there are about 60,000 Hong Kong-based manufacturing facilities operating in the PRD, a leading economic region in mainland China. The partnership aims to equip Foshan, which boasts numerous manufacturers of household and electronic appliances, with the necessary RFID and EPC infrastructure, as well as the knowledge and skills to leverage that infrastructure, according to the three partners. The estimated demand for RFID tags is estimated to grow to more than 600 million in the next five years, says Hu An Quan, the director general of Foshan's Economy and Trade Bureau of the Chancheng District. According to Quan, the demand for RFID interrogators and antennas is expected to grow to about 11,000 in that time. As part of the partnership, Wal-Mart will share the RFID implementation experience it has gained thus far with its suppliers in Foshan, while also providing support to those suppliers' trading partners. GS1 Hong Kong will help facilitate the information sharing and offer the use of the Hong Kong Supply Chain Innovation Center, a technology center in the Hong Kong Science Park in Shatin used to showcase RFID, EPC and supply chain management solutions.

Digital Angel Buys Geissler Technologies, Expands Presence in Livestock Tracking
Digital Angel, a provider of RFID and GPS technologies to identify, track and monitor people, animals and high-value assets, has announced the acquisition of Geissler Technologies, a developer of electronic identification and imaging systems for animals. The terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed. Geissler Technologies will be incorporated into Digital Angel's Destron Fearing division, which also develops and manufactures livestock identification products. Digital Angel says it conducted the acquisition to further extend its presence and customer base in the livestock market. Randolph K. Geissler, who is Geissler Technologies' CEO and one of Destron Fearing's founders, will become the president of Digital Angel's animal applications business. RFID animal-tracking systems developed by Geissler include the low-frequency g.TAG and the high-frequency r.TAG.
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