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RFID News Roundup
Research firm predicts strong growth for RFID market; RFID passes inspection for marine industry supplier; U.S. Air Force Medical Service awards RFID contract; Polaris Networks intros conformance testing tool; Visible Assets unveils RuBee Pilot Kit; Advanced ID takes RFID tire products to India and Indonesia.
May 22, 2008—The following are news announcements made during the past week.
Strong Growth Expected For RFID Market
A severely stressed economy doesn't appear to be hurting the RFID market, at least according to one technology research firm. ABI Research, headquartered in Oyster Bay, N.Y., has announced that it expects the worldwide RFID market—sales of RFID hardware, software and services—will have a compound annual growth rate of about 15 percent from now until 2013, with annual revenue reaching $9.7 billion by that year. ABI's research director, Michael Liard, believes the RFID market is growing robustly, across all product categories of RFID technology. Last year's market finished strong, a trend that continued into the first quarter of 2008, according to ABI, which attributed the positive growth to several long-term commitments to and investments in RFID, particularly in the passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) market. ABI cited aerospace manufacturer Airbus' plans to implement and leverage RFID in its global supply chain, manufacturing and in-service operations. For instance, the jet maker is already employing RFID to help ensure that the 800 containers of parts required to build each A380 cabin arrive at the proper location at the right time (see Airbus' Grand Plans for RFID). Other companies, such as Wal-Mart's Sam's Club division and European retailer Metro, have recently stepped up or expanded their own RFID initiatives. While closed-loop applications currently dominate RFID deployments, Liard predicts future RFID market growth will come from a variety of sources and applications. ABI Research's "RFID Forecasts" report provides data on RFID revenue and unit shipments, segmented by technology, application and vertical market. It also includes data regarding RFID software and services revenue, sorted by region, vertical market and primary application.
RFID Passes Inspection for Marine Industry Supplier
Halo, a New Orleans-based supplier of wire rope and industrial supplies, as well as testing and training services, to the marine industry, has announced its selection of an RFID-enabled inspection and safety compliance system from N4 Systems, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The supplier will leverage N4 Systems' Field ID to manage all of its inspections and safety-compliance procedures. Field ID incorporates handheld mobile computers that inspectors can utilize to identify equipment tagged with high-frequency (HF) tags. As the tags are read, their unique ID numbers are referenced against data stored in the handheld that walks inspectors through the necessary inspection procedures. The inspectors can input specific information about the equipment as well, and all of that data can then be uploaded into N4 System's software so it can be shared. A number of other vendors of wire rope and industrial supplies are presently using the Field ID system (see Equipment Inspectors Find Safety in RFID).
U.S. Air Force Medical Service Awards RFID Contract
The Air Force Surgeon General's Office is reviewing current uses of RFID technology across the Air Force Medical Service, and also plans to test the use of RFID to improve clinical operations at the Keesler Medical Center. Located at the Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, the medical center is one of the Air Force's largest health-care facilities and contains a 78-bed inpatient hospital, outpatient clinics, a clinical research laboratory and aeromedical facilities to serve Air Force, Army and Navy bases in the southeastern United States. Kessler Medical Center has a staff of more than 1,300 and serves nearly 11,000 active duty personnel and 47,000 eligible beneficiaries in the Gulf Coast area. Shipcom Wireless, an RFID software provider headquartered in Houston, Texas, will oversee the multiyear project. Shipcom will assess existing RFID implementations at Air Force medical centers, using its Hospital Operational & Clinical Assessment Model. Based on findings from the assessment, the company will then recommend steps the Air Force can take to more effectively employ RFID and related technologies to improve patient care and make clinical processes more efficient. In addition, Shipcom will model and implement specific RFID solutions at Keesler Medical Center using Shipcom's x/Care suite of health-care applications, including the p/Care patient care module and the a/Care asset-management module. The goal is to expand RFID from tracking assets to monitoring lab specimens, medicine and possibly patients, according to Shipcom and the Air Force. Motorola is working with Shipcom as a technology partner on the project.
Polaris Networks Intros Conformance Testing Tool
Polaris Networks, a Boston-based provider of testing tools for wireless networks, has unveiled a new product designed to help RFID interrogator and middleware vendors and developers conform to EPCglobal's Application Level Events (ALE) standard, which specifies an interface through which RFID clients may obtain filtered, consolidated Electronic Product Code (EPC) data from a variety of sources. According to Soumya Kanti Roy Chowdhury, a senior software engineer with Polaris Networks, the company's new ALE 1.1 Protocol Conformance Tester is specifically designed for the ALE 1.1 standard and consists of Polaris Networks' Protocol Conformance Tester, a generic software test platform composed of four modules: PacketBuilder (for building protocol packets), TestBuilder (for creating GUI-based test scripts), TestEngine (for running test scripts) and Miniscope (a custom-made protocol decoder/analyzer). "We bundle our Protocol Conformance Tester with EPCglobal conformance tests and additional protocol/performance tests created by Polaris Networks," he says. "The user of the tester can also add his or her own tests very easily." Now available, the ALE 1.1 Conformance Tester implements all mandatory tests described in the Conformance Requirements document of the EPCglobal Filtering and Collections workgroup. Passing these tests is necessary for EPCglobal certification, Polaris Networks explains. The company also offers four other RFID Conformance Protocol Tester products, including ALE 1.0, Reader Protocol (RP) 1.1, Reader Management (RM) 1.0 and Low-Level Reader Protocol (LLRP) 1.0. "Our tester tools were used by EPCglobal for ALE 1.0 and RP 1.1 Certification testing," Chowdhury says. "Polaris Networks also plays an active role in EPCglobal's standards-development process." The company says it plans to add further tests related to ALE for testing optional features to determine the stability of protocol implementations. It has been actively involved in EPCglobal's ALE 1.1 standards development work group for the development of both core specification and conformance requirements.
Visible Assets Unveils RuBee Pilot Kit
Visible Assets, a Stratham, N.H.-based company that helped pioneer the development of RuBee RFID technology, has announced the RuBee Pilot Kit. This all-inclusive hardware, software, licensing and support package is designed to help companies initiate pilot projects using RuBee as specified in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' IEEE P1902.1 standard, based on Visible Assets' RuBee protocol. The kit and licensing package includes an IEEE P1902.1 license, as well as RuBee hardware, software and technical support. RuBee tags can be either active or passive, all operating at a low frequency (132 kHz), rather than at the high-frequency (13.56 MHz) or ultrahigh-frequency (916 MHz) bands employed in the most widely deployed RFID systems (see Visible Assets Promotes RuBee Tags for Tough-to-Track Goods). Specifically, the kit incorporates Visible Assets' Dot-Tag visibility engine software and server hardware, Sidewinders routers, RuBee wireless tags, RuBee antennas, and direct support from Visible Assets to execute a single-focused RuBee pilot in a new application or industry area.
Advanced ID Takes RFID Tire Products to India and Indonesia
Advanced ID Corp., a Calgary, Alberta, provider of RFID technology for livestock tracking, pet recovery and supply chain applications, has entered into international distribution agreements to bring its RFID UHF tire tags and readers, as well as the tire maintenance systems of its Pneu-Logic subsidiary, to the Indian and Indonesian markets. Advanced ID's tire tag solution is based on proprietary RFID tag readers it has developed, in addition to RFID tag technology obtained through a third-party license for a 915 MHz tire tag for the transportation industry. The company provides both an RFID tag embedded in the tire during the curing phase of the manufacturing process, and also a tag that is cold-vulcanized on the tire after manufacture, or for replacement tires already in the field. Both applications provide a life-of-tire, unique ID that can be utilized for inventory purposes, maintenance, theft prevention and product recalls. The distribution partner in India is Syncroft, headquartered in Mumbai, which specializes in providing wireless, Web-based and RFID technology and consulting services for various markets. Advanced ID has selected Suar Group in Indonesia, which provides industrial and developmental products and services throughout that country. The agreements follow Advanced ID's formal entry into the Asian market last month, when it announced a decision by Qingdao Mesnac Co., a Chinese tire production equipment and software maker with tire manufacturing operations, to commit to embedding Advanced ID's RFID tags in tires installed on commercial trucks. Mesnac is purchasing a minimum of 2 million RFID tire tags and a quantity of RFID interrogators.
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