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RFID News Roundup

Intermec intros new rigid asset tag; NXP rolls out new Mifare chip; retailer New York & Co. now accepting MasterCard PayPass; KSW Microtec announces eGo multifunctional contactless transponder; Mobile Aspects develops RFID-enabled cabinet for endoscopes.
Oct 30, 2008The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Intermec Intros New Rigid Asset Tag
RFID equipment provider Intermec has announced a new rigid, passive RFID tag it describes as ideal for portal and forklift applications. The IT67 Enterprise Lateral Transmitting (LT) tag is designed for both edge and normal reading performance. With edge reading, users can now interrogate the IT67 laterally, eliminating the need to face the tag directly. According to Intermec, the IT67 is suited for industries that track large metal containers, such as automotive, postal and waste management. The passive tag meets EPC Gen 2 and 18000-6C requirements, and has a rugged casing with an ingress-protection rating of IP67, to safeguard it from harsh environmental conditions. It can operate in temperatures ranging from -40 degrees to +150 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 degrees to +66 degrees Celsius), and provides a read range of up to 26 feet. The IT67 is reusable for lower cost per use, and can be mounted to containers with a variety of methods, including screws, rivets and double-sided adhesive strips for simple installation. Compatible with Intermec's full suite of mobile and fixed RFID readers, the Intermec IT67 is now available worldwide.

NXP Rolls Out New Mifare Chip
NXP Semiconductors is rolling out its latest addition to its Mifare line of RFID chips, all of which are made for passive 13.56 MHz applications and are compliant with the ISO 14443 air-interface protocol. The new Mifare Plus will be launched at Cartes 2008, a conference focusing on contactless payment, mobility, digital security and smart cards, to be held Nov. 4-6 in Paris. The Mifare Plus, designed specifically for access control and payment applications, employs a 128-bit key Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), which is stronger than the proprietary, 48-bit security algorithm in NXP's Mifare Classic chip, introduced in 1994. Vulnerabilities in the Classic chip have recently been demonstrated by two separate research parties who reverse-engineered the chip and uncovered the security algorithm. NXP says it has designed the Mifare Plus to be backwards-compatible with its previous Mifare chips, including the Classic. That means issuers of transit cards, key cards and other products that currently utilize the Classic chip can introduce similar offerings containing the Mifare Plus chip, without having to revoke or reissue cards already in users' hands that carry the Classic chip. To interrogate the embedded RFID tags made with the Mifare Plus chip, however, users will need to upgrade their reader software (see NXP Announces New, More Secure Chip for Transport, Access Cards). The first samples of Mifare Plus will be demonstrated at Cartes, and are slated to be released this year, supporting first customer rollouts in mid-2009; pricing is expected to be unveiled at Cartes.

Retailer New York & Co. Now Accepting MasterCard PayPass
Women's retailer New York & Co. has announced that it will accept MasterCard's contactless PayPass payment system at all of its nearly 600 stores in 44 U.S. states. Using the PayPass card, which contains a 13.56 MHz RFID inlay with a short read range of 2 centimeters to 3 centimeters (0.8 inch to 1.2 inches), customers can pay for goods by tapping the card on a PayPass reader installed at the store. MasterCard PayPass does not require customers to sign receipts for purchases under $25, further speeding up the transaction. According to MasterCard, New York & Co. is the first apparel retailer to accept PayPass, though the contactless payment system is used globally at more than 122,000 merchant locations, including participating 7-Eleven convenience stores (see MasterCard and 7-Eleven Launch NFC Trial). As of the second quarter of this year, MasterCard reports there are nearly 37 million MasterCard PayPass cards and devices in use in 24 countries.

KSW Microtec Announces eGo Multifunctional Contactless Transponder
RFID component manufacturer KSW Microtec, headquartered in Dresden, Germany, is unveiling a new contactless transponder that not only functions according to the ISO 18000-6C ultra-high-frequency (UHF) 868-960 MHz standard, but also operates according to either the ISO 15693 or ISO 14443 13.35 MHz high-frequency (HF) RFID standard. The eGo transponder, KSW reports, will enable customers to merge long-distance RFID applications with proximity access and security applications. That means, for example, a single card could serve both as an access card to a gated parking lot and for entering buildings, and as a contactless payment card to make purchases, the company says. The KSW eGo will be unveiled at Cartes 2008. In addition, KSW Microtec indicates it will demonstrate an upgraded version of its RFID-based VarioSens Label, an adhesive label containing a 13.56 MHz RFID inlay compliant with the ISO 15693-3 standard, as well as a paper-thin battery and an integrated temperature sensor to enable temperature monitoring. KSW also says it will introduce an RFID sticker label that will enable any mobile phone to be turned into a contactless payment device.

Mobile Aspects Develops RFID-enabled Cabinet for Endoscopes
Pittsburgh-based Mobile Aspects has introduced a new RFID-enabled solution designed to help health-care organizations manage the storage, use and sterilization of endoscopes. The solution, known as iRIScope, includes an RFID-enabled cabinet that can hold up to 12 endoscopes, a touch-screen monitor, interrogators and software. Like Mobile Aspects' other RFID-enabled systems for the health-care market, iRIScope leverages 13.56 MHz passive HF RFID tags, which support the ISO 15693 standard. When a nurse removes an endoscope from a cabinet, built-in interrogators scan the item's passive RFID tag, recording any that are removed from the cabinet. At that time, the nurse also logs into the touch-screen computer attached to the cabinet, and enters in patient information that then associates the endoscope with that particular patient. After the endoscope is used, it is sent to an area or room for disinfecting, where technicians scan the tag and log into the application to update the device's disinfection status. The endoscope is then returned to the cabinet, where the built-in interrogators record its return. Mobile Aspects will debut iRIScope at the Managing Today's OR Suite conference, being held this week in Washington, D.C. The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania has been testing iRIScope, says Bryan Christianson, Mobile Aspects' marketing director. The hospital also employs Mobile Aspects' iRISupply, a similar system comprising RFID-enabled storage cabinets for managing other types of medical devices and supplies. According to Christianson, the company expects to begin offering commercially ready versions of iRIScope by year's end.
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