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RFID News Roundup
Imation intros UHF RFID tape-tracking system; IDTronic unveils UHF interrogators in USB stick and Compact Flash forms; Arkansas public library implements RFID system; Michigan hospital uses RTLS to track patients; Alanco announces new $2.5 million financing.
Aug 14, 2008—The following are news announcements made during the past week.
Imation Intros UHF RFID Tape-Tracking System
Removable data storage provider Imation has incorporated passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID technology into its tape-tracking system to help its customers improve the efficiency and reliability of audits, and to automate cartridge check-in/checkout processes. The DataGuard rf Tape Tracking System, which replaces traditional bar-code systems, works with Imation's RFID Volume and Serial Number (Vol-Ser) Labels, which can be affixed to tape cartridges. The EPC Gen 2 RFID inlay in each label includes Imation's custom-designed antenna that offers a read range of up to 6 feet for a single cartridge and up to 2 feet for a case of 20. The DataGuard rf system includes a Motorola 9090G handheld interrogator, which can read both the RFID and existing bar-code labels. The system also incorporates Imation's proprietary software to track the RFID reads, and can be programmed to automatically check a watch list for misfiled or lost tapes, recognize corrupt Vol-Ser label data and ignore extraneous UHF signals.
IDTronic Unveils UHF Interrogators in USB Stick and CompactFlash Forms
IDTronic, an RFID hardware provider based in Germany, has introduced two new UHF reader-writers—one in the form of a USB stick, the other as a CompactFlash card—that can turn Pocket PCs, PDAs, handhelds, laptops and other mobile devices into RFID interrogators. Both the USB stick and CompactFlash versions operate in the 860-960 MHz frequency range and can read UHF smart labels, tags and ISO transponders that support EPC Class 1 Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6 Parts B and C. Both models weigh 30 grams (1.1 ounces). The USB stick reader measures 120 by 34 by 15 millimeters (4.7 by 1.3 by 0.6 inches), while the Compact Flash version measures 95 by 60 by 12 millimeters (3.7 by 2.4 by 0.5 inches). IDTronic indicates the USB version has a read range of up to 80 centimeters (31 inches), while the CompactFlash version has a read range of up to 50 centimeters (19.7 inches). The company claims the USB stick product is the first UHF RFID reader-writer available in that form factor, and says it is ideal for UHF tag testing, logistics and asset tracking. Both models contain a dual-color LED to monitor the status of tag reads, as well as the requisite software for mobile devices to accept RFID data. IDTronic also offers a software development kit. The two readers are available now in Europe, and are slated to become available in North America beginning in September, through http://www.brightcard.net Brightcard>, IDTronic's exclusive North American distributor.
Arkansas Public Library Implements RFID System
The Springdale Public Library, in Springdale, Ark., is implementing an RFID-based system from Bibliotheca RFID Library Systems to improve security, provide self-checkout in the children's area, streamline materials processing and handling, and improve circulation processes. The library has a collection of about 195,000 items with an annual circulation of approximately 700,000, and typically adds 18,000 items to its collection each year. Headquartered in Switzerland, with a Canadian company in Kitchener, Ontario, Bibliotheca sells RFID systems that operate at 13.56 MHz and comply with the ISO 15693 standard. Beginning this fall, the Springdale library intends to install SelfCheck stations (which include fixed RFID readers), BiblioGates (single- or double-aisle sensor gates that read tagged items as they pass by), BiblioReturn Machines (which patrons can use to return books when the library is closed) and a sorting system. In the future, the library plans to implement the BiblioWand, a PDA with a built-in RFID reader that can be used to inventory tagged materials and locate them on shelves.
Michigan Hospital Uses RTLS to Track Patients
Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center (OHMC), in Dearborn, Mich., has implemented a Wi-Fi-based real-time location system (RTLS) from AeroScout to track patients throughout the 632-bed facility. By being able to automatically track patient locations, the hospital hopes to reduce the time spent searching for those who have to leave their rooms for CT scans or other procedures. The hospital is employing AeroScout's T2 active Wi-Fi tags, which transmit 2.4 GHz signals carrying the tags' unique ID numbers to the medical center's Cisco Wi-Fi network. A tag is affixed to a patient's chart holder, which accompanies that person and can be tracked on any of the hospital's 10 floors and two patient-care towers. AeroScout Exciters, placed at doorways, trigger the tags to immediately transmit their position as patients enter and leave specific departments, such as ultrasound, radiation oncology or CT scanning. Each patient's location is updated on the map the instant they enter or leave the department. The location data transmitted by the tags is interpreted by AeroScout's MobileView software to display the patient's current location on a map on monitors at nurses' stations, or on any Web-enabled device. The implementation follows the completion of a successful pilot program in which 64 patients were tracked through 14 departments over two floors. Oakwood is a full-service teaching hospital in partnership with Wayne State University, also located in Dearborn. In 2007, the University of Maryland Medical Center's radiation oncology department began utilizing a Wi-Fi-based active tag system from Inner Wireless to help it locate charts quickly (see RFID Helps Radiation Oncology Dept. Locate Patient Charts).
Alanco Announces New $2.5 Million Financing
Alanco Technologies, a Scottsdale, Ariz., provider of wireless tracking and asset-management solutions, has announced new financing totaling $2.5 million. Alanco owns StarTrak Systems, a provider of wireless and GPS systems, and Alanco/TSI PRISM, which manufactures RFID tracking systems for the corrections industry. Alanco also participates in the data storage industry through a third subsidiary, Excel Meridian Data (EMD), which specializes in providing unique data storage, backup and disaster-recovery solutions. The financing includes $2 million of additional equity from the sale of non-convertible Series D Preferred Stock, along with a $500,000 increase in Alanco's current credit line. The company's directors and officers will be the primary investors in the new financing, expected to be completed by Aug. 22. Alanco plans to use $1.4 million of the proceeds to pay down a term note with a current balance of approximately $2.4 million. The remaining $1.1 million will be allotted to providing additional working capital.
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