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RFID News Roundup

GE Healthcare partners with CenTrak on RTLS; NISO recommends best practices for RFID in libraries; Gateway Ticketing Systems, Precision Dynamics team up on RFID; epcSolutions offers turnkey RFID solution for Sam's Club suppliers; Intelleflex launches RFID products for South Korea.
Jan 25, 2008The following are news announcements made during the week of Jan. 21.

GE Healthcare Partners With CenTrak on RTLS
GE Healthcare has announced a partnership with CenTrak, a maker of a hybrid RFID-infrared real-time location system (RTLS) designed for tracking patients and assets at health-care facilities. The partnership, announced at RFID Journal's inaugural RFID In Health Care conference this week in Las Vegas, combines CenTrak's InTouch Care RTLS with GE Healthcare's expertise in helping hospitals, health-care organizations, bio-medicine companies and drugmakers use technology to improve care, cut costs and enhance operations. GE Healthcare is a $17 billion unit of General Electric, and has worked with numerous organizations on RFID, including Emory Healthcare in Georgia (see Emory Healthcare Tracks Its Pumps). InTouch Care RTLS features CenTrak's DualTrak tags, which incorporate infrared technology to determine a tag's location, and 900 MHz active RFID technology, used to communicate a tag's unique ID number and location information to battery-powered units called spiders, installed in rooms and other areas (see CenTrak Intros RFID-Infrared RTLS for Health Care). 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.

NISO Recommends Best Practices for RFID in Libraries
The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) has issued a report describing recommended practices for the use of RFID in tracking and managing books and other materials in libraries. NISO is ISO's U.S. member organization, which is helping to develop uniform standards. The document, "RFID in US Libraries," is available here at no cost and offers a number of recommendations. These include urging that RFID tags be affixed to media at the earliest point possible, then used throughout a book's lifecycle, beginning with its printing. The document also calls for interoperability among library RFID systems, so that a tag in one library can be used in another, even if the tags are from different suppliers. To that end, the document includes the new NISO RFID Data Model, which outlines specifications for uniform tag data that each tag should contain to ensure interoperability among different vendors' tags. Library systems typically work with RFID tags that operate at 13.56 MHz and support the ISO 15693 and 18000-3 air-interface protocols, which specify the manner in which data is shared between tags and interrogators. Most systems, however, incorporate proprietary tag data formats because there hasn't been a standard. Recently, 3M's Library Systems division introduced new software, the 3M Tag Data Manager, designed to help libraries more easily support a variety of tag data formats—as well as an international tag data standard, ISO 28560, once it is complete (see < link http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/articleview/3858/1/1/ 3M Launches Tag Data Manager for Libraries>).

Gateway Ticketing Systems, Precision Dynamics Team Up on RFID
Precision Dynamics Corp. (PDC) and Gateway Ticketing Systems have joined forces to combine PDC's RFID-enabled wristbands with Gateway's Galaxy Point of Sale software. The Smart Band RFID system from PDC, headquartered in San Fernando, Calif., includes a wristband containing a 13.56 MHz passive RFID inlay, compliant with the ISO 15693 air-interface standard. According to the companies, the wristband can be used for automated admissions, guest identification, cashless point-of-sale (POS), keyless entry and other applications. Gateway's POS systems are used by more than 300 organizations, including those in the entertainment, transportation, restaurant and other sectors. Gateway has been supporting RFID, but leveraging a proprietary RFID protocol. About two years ago, Gateway and PDC began working together to convert Gateway's system to RFID tags compliant with ISO 15693. "We provided them with a software developer's kit and various readers, and have now completed the integration," says Doug Bourque, PDC's RFID market development manager. The first application combining the two vendors' products, available in February, will be a cashless POS system. The partners also expect to soon announce a customer using PDC's tags and Gateway's POS system—a Texas water park operator. Bourque says the partnership will provide PDC with new opportunities. "Gateway has a great installed base of outdoor parks and family entertainment centers," he states. "This market [of family entertainment centers] struggles because they don't want to replace their current POS systems in order to use RFID. They want to use their legacy equipment and buy updated modules, and this will allow them to do that."

EpcSolutions Offers Turnkey RFID Solution for Sam's Club Suppliers
Now that Sam's Club has upped the RFID ante for suppliers, vendors are launching new solutions to help them. EpcSolutions has announced that its RFIDTagManager is now available specifically to meet the RFID requirements of Sam's Club, which is owned and operated by Wal-Mart. Earlier this month, Sam's Club announced that by Jan. 31, suppliers must apply an EPC Gen 2 RFID tag to every full single-item pallet shipped to its distribution center in DeSoto, Texas, or directly to one of its stores served by that DC. For any pallets not tagged, suppliers will be charged a service fee, starting at $2 per untagged pallet (see Sam's Club Tells Suppliers to Tag or Pay). EpcSolutions, headquartered in Great Falls, Va., is now offering RFIDTagManager for Sam's Club, built on its SensorOS middleware, which acts as an operating system for RFID hardware so different interrogators can interact with printers or other equipment. RFIDTagManager for Sam's Club includes a full SQL database and an EPCIS-compliant repository. The EPCIS protocol serves as the communication mechanism between applications and data repositories from which a company can effectively exchange and query data within its own RFID processes and those of its partners. The EPCIS standard also automates the exchange of RFID data, because it allows for machine-to-machine communications. RFIDTagManager for Sam's Club supports a variety of EPC Gen 2 label printer-encoders and interrogators, including those from Zebra Technologies, Motorola, Printronix, Intermec, Datamax and ThingMagic.

Intelleflex Launches RFID Products for South Korea
San Jose, Calif., semiconductor and RFID company Intelleflex has announced that it is now offering a line of RFID tags and interrogators for the South Korean market. Among Intelleflex's portfolio of products is a passive EPC Gen 2 tag being designed specifically for Boeing (see Boeing Approves Intelleflex Chip, Weighs Higher-Memory Fujitsu Tag) and a line of battery-assisted passive (BAP) RFID tags consisting of Intelleflex's BAP UHF inlays, which utilize the ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) band (902-928 MHz for use in North America, 865-868 MHz for Europe and India) and comply with EPCglobal's proposed Class 3 standard. The expansion follows the recent introduction of Intelleflex's products into Europe, and the opening of its office in Belgium serving the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. For the South Korean market, Intelleflex says it has engineered its products to align with that country's authorized frequency band (910 to 914 MHz).
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