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RFID News Roundup

Xerox picks RFID-enabled system to monitor fleet; study shows growth opportunity for RFID in Africa; Rhode Island governor nixes ban on RFID devices; Reva announces upgraded TAP appliance; Sokymat intros new UHF RFID tags for waste, warehouse management; Feig announces new UHF multiplexer, handheld HF/UHF reader.
Jul 16, 2008The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Xerox Picks RFID-enabled System to Monitor Fleet
Xerox is deploying the PowerKeyPlus vehicle management system from I.D. Systems, to manage a fleet of forklifts at a Xerox distribution center in Ohio. The order was facilitated by Hy-Tek Material Handling, a Columbus, Ohio, provider of industrial trucks and material-handling systems. PowerKeyPlus offers vehicle access control via keyless units mounted on forklifts or other vehicles. To start a vehicle, an operators use the unit's keypad to enter a personal identification numbers (PINs). When an operator enters a PIN, safety checklists are also accessed and displayed on the unit, which communicates to a gateway via an RF connection operating at 902-928 MHz, an 802.11 wireless network or a 2.4 GHz connection. PowerKeyPlus was unveiled three months ago as part of I.D. Systems' announcement that it had acquired PowerKey—the industrial vehicle monitoring products division of International Electronics, a manufacturer of access control and security equipment—for $500,000. PowerKeyPlus is an entry-level system that can serve as a platform for seamless expansion to I.D. Systems' Wireless Asset Net fleet management technology. That system utilizes battery-powered 915 MHz RFID transceivers built into computers that mount onto vehicles. The computers communicate data via a proprietary air-interface protocol to I.D. Systems receivers, which then pass the collected information to software that processes tag location and sensor data so companies can track vehicle location, maintenance information and more. Wal-Mart, for instance, is employing Wireless Asset Net to track lift trucks and other vehicles at a dozen of its distribution centers in the United States (see Wal-Mart Using RFID to Monitor Vehicles at Its DCs).

Study Shows Growth Opportunity for RFID in Africa
A new study from Frost & Sullivan reports a variety of opportunities for RFID applications in African countries. The study, entitled "Potential for RFID Applications in Africa Markets," indicates that various sectors in Africa have already begun employing radio frequency identification, and that RFID deployments are increasing. The study claims there are plenty of opportunities, and cites, by way of example, using RFID as a security mechanism to help prevent the theft, fraud and counterfeit products that are widespread in many parts of Africa. The report notes, however, that the generally high cost of deploying RFID may make adoption more difficult in Africa, and that designing low-cost tags to meet various industry requirements is critical. The study focuses on a variety of RFID application areas, including access control, track and trace, sensing and monitoring, and automation. It also identifies RFID's potential users and available growth opportunities in Africa, and examines the vendors, suppliers, distributors, end users and regulators impacting the RFID market dynamics. The research is currently available for purchase through Frost & Sullivan's IT Services & Applications Growth Partnership Services program.

Rhode Island Governor Nixes Ban on RFID Devices
Rhode Island Governor Donald L. Carcieri has vetoed a bill that would have barred the use of RFID systems to track the movement of employees or students. The bill, titled "An Act Relating to State Affairs and Government: Restricting Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Devices" (2008 H 8027), was first introduced in March of this year by state representatives Charlene M. Lima, Timothy A. Williamson and Anastasia Williams. It passed the state's House (with a floor amendment) on June 10, then passed the Senate on June 19. The bill's introduction came shortly after the Rhode Island affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union announced it opposed the deployment of an RFID-enabled tracking system from MAP Information Technology Corp. at a public elementary school, calling the system invasive. In a statement, Carcieri said the bill overstepped its bounds, and that such decisions about RFID use should not be made at the state level, but rather left up to local districts and parents. He further noted that the technology could prove helpful in protecting people during certain situations, such as natural disasters, terrorist activities or criminal events. The elementary school project, media reports indicate, has now been put on hold due to funding constraints.

Reva Announces Upgraded TAP Appliance
Reva Systems a Chelmsford, Mass., provider of rack-mountable appliances that can be employed to centrally control a network of RFID interrogators, has announced a new, upgraded device, the Tag Acquisition Processor (TAP) 721, as well as an upgrade to the software that runs on the TAP. The TAP 721 is capable of supporting up to 1,024 read points (a read point is defined as each antenna linked to a multi-antenna reader, or a reader—usually a mobile reader—with one antenna). The TAP 701, TAP 721's predecessor, supports up to only 128 read points, so the newest appliance is suited for users who operate a much greater number of RFID interrogators in a single facility and want them all feeding data into a single platform (previously only possible by linking multiple TAP 701 devices together). The upgraded software, version 2.3, enables users to track the direction of movement of each RFID tag read within the Reva network. The TAP device supports RFID EPC Gen 2 readers from 14 manufacturers, says Peter Blair, Reva's director of marketing, and while many of the reader models these companies produce enable users to determine tag direction, adding direction functionality to the TAP allows them to determine tag direction regardless of which RFID interrogators they use in their reader networks. The new software also comes with the ability to generate preconfigured reports that companies can utilize to power business processes based on specific read events. For example, a report detailing when a particular Electronic Product Code (EPC) or group of EPCs is read on a receiving dock can be created and transmitted to an end user's back-end software, so that the end user might act on a product recall, or monitor the arrival of a promotional product at a retail store. Several of Reva's customers are already utilizing the TAP 721, the company claims, and the device is generating interest within the aerospace manufacturing, automotive manufacturing, postal services and airport operations sectors. Pricing for the Reva TAP 721 is based on each appliance's reader processing requirements. The TAP software version 2.3 is available for download for free to current TAP owners who have signed up for a maintenance plan with Reva. In addition, the company has announced a partnership with RFID systems integrator Miles Technology to offer integrated asset-tracking solutions, in which data is fed to Miles' asset-tracking software by the TAP system. The solution is available for demonstration at Miles' Chicago-area Technology Integration Center.

Sokymat Intros New UHF RFID Tags for Waste, Warehouse Management
German tag and RFID components manufacturer Sokymat Automotive has introduced two new ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags, the Slim Tag and the Waste Bin Tag, for industrial applications. Both tags feature a robust casing for enhanced durability and are available with industry-standard EPC Class 1 Gen 2 chips. The Slim Tag is designed for managing logistics in large warehouse environments, including pallet, vehicle and container tracking, as well as tool identification and process control. The Waste Bin Tag is designed to help track waste containers and automatically measure the weight of the waste. The new UHF tags expand Sokymat Automotive's existing product portfolio of low-frequency (LF) tags operating between 120 kHz and 140 kHz, as well as high-frequency (HF) tags operating at 13.56 MHz.

Feig Announces New UHF Multiplexer, Handheld HF/UHF Reader
Feig Electronic, a German reader manufacturer, has announced two new products: the RFID 8-channel UHF Multiplexer ID ISC.ANT.UMUX and the Dual Frequency (HF/UHF) Handheld Reader ID ISC.PRHD102. The multiplexer enables several UHF antennas to be connected to one UHF reader, and is used for the switching of RFID antennas with operating frequencies from 860 to 960 MHz. The multiplexer is controlled via antenna cable to the interrogator. The dual frequency handheld reader is equipped with a Bluetooth interface, an integrated HF antenna and a UHF antenna. The maximum read range for HF tags is 10 centimeters (3.9 inches), according to Feig Electronic, while the read ranges for UHF tags varies between 50 and 60 centimeters (19.7 and 23.6 inches).
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