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RFID News Roundup

Uruguay deploys RFID-enabled toll system; Pixavi launches Wi-Fi RFID tag for hazardous areas; Giesecke & Devrient delivers microSD card uniting smart card and NFC functions; RFID tags streamline ferry traffic in Finland; Soligie and Blue Spark collaborate on printed electronics; RFID benefits extend beyond the supply chain, Aberdeen study reports.
Dec 11, 2008The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Uruguay Deploys RFID-enabled Toll System
Corporacion Vial del Uruguay (CVU), a government agency responsible for overseeing Uruguay's National Highway Concession program, is upgrading the country's toll-collection system with radio frequency identification in all of its toll plazas. The CVU, working with Telsis, a Uruguay-based company, and Telectronica, a firm with automatic vehicle identification (AVI) installations in South America and Mexico, is leveraging Sirit's IDentity 5100 RFID interrogator and transponders, which utilize ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID technology and support the EPC Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C standards. According to Sirit, the Identity 5100 system, designed for AVI and electronic vehicle registration (EVR) applications, can capture RFID tag reads on vehicles traveling at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour (160 kilometers per hour). The system, the company indicates, has been designed to withstand extreme weather conditions, temperatures, humidity and vibration. Phase one of the deployment, now complete, included 12 interrogators and 20,000 transponders operating on Uruguay's main highway, connecting the cities of Montevideo and Punta del Este. When phase two is completed in mid-2009, 40 readers will be installed, connecting the entire road system in Uruguay with a single centralized AVI system using Sirit interrogators and tags.

Pixavi Launches Wi-Fi RFID Tag for Hazardous Areas
Pixavi has introduced a new Wi-Fi based real-time location system (RTLS) tag designed to track equipment and personnel in hazardous areas, such as those in the oil and gas, mining and chemicals industries. According to Pixavi, a Norwegian wireless company with offices in Stuart, Fla., the Xtag—an intrinsically safe battery-operated 2.4 GHz active RFID tag—operates on standard Wi-Fi wireless networks and can pinpoint the positions of equipment and personnel with a precision of up to 2 meters (6.6 feet). The new tag rounds out Pixavi's Wi-Fi offerings, which include its Xpoint explosion-proof and intrinsically safe access points, and its Xbeam EX explosion-proof antennas. The Xtag also works with Ekahau's RTLS platform, which consists of access points that can communicate with and track 2.4 GHz RFID tags transmitting unique IDs using the IEEE 802.11 (Wi-Fi) standards, along with tracking software that maps tag location in real time. Ekahau's system is currently in use in numerous mines, including those operated by CVRD Inco, a mining and metals firm based in Toronto, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Brazilian mining company CVRD. The company employs Ekahau's RTLS at its Stobie and North mines, located in Sudbury, Ontario (see CVRD Inco Mines Turn to Ekahau to Track Assets, Productivity). Pixavi's Xtag is available now, starting at $153 per tag.

Giesecke & Devrient Delivers microSD Card Uniting Smart Card and NFC Functions
Smart card maker Giesecke & Devrient (G&D), based in Munich, Germany, has announced its development of a mobile security card that provides contactless smart-card security with data storage functions. The Mobile Security Card CL supports microSD—a format for removable flash memory cards, used primarily in mobile telephones, but also in handheld GPS devices, portable media players, digital audio players and expandable USB flash memory drives, as well as for Nintendo DS flashcards. The card has a cryptography controller with a Near Field Communications (NFC)-compatible interface integrated into it, along with the flash memory, and is designed to add security and payment functions in cell phones and for many other mobile applications. The Mobile Security Card CL's NFC interface is based on the ISO 14443 and Mifare standards. In order to use the card in contactless mode, G&D reports, the device in which it is inserted must be equipped with an antenna for the contactless communication link. The card contains two additional standardized contacts for this purpose. A battery is not required to operate the contactless interface; the requisite power is tapped from the radio field generated by the card reader. A secure communication link is established as soon as the antenna comes within a few centimeters of the reading device. The range of possible contactless applications includes contactless payment, electronic access control to buildings, electronic event ticketing and transit ticketing, and electronic passes for companies, libraries and universities.

RFID Tags Streamline Ferry Traffic in Finland
The Finnish Road Administration is testing passive UHF RFID tags from UPM Raflatac in an automatic vehicle identification (AVI) pilot. The EPC Gen 2 DogBone inlays have been embedded into licenses that identify drivers entitled to use the priority driving lane to the ferry that travels to and from Finland's Hailuoto Island, in the northern Baltic Sea. According to UPM Raflatac, drivers hold up their RFID-enabled licenses to their vehicles' side windows, and the interrogators can identify the drivers through the glass—even from a distance of several meters—and grant them access if they are permitted to use the priority lanes. As a result, the company notes, access control to the ferry has significantly improved, reducing misuse of the priority driving lane. The readers are connected to a server program via a mobile network, and administrators can follow and control the ferry traffic in real time, from any location, using a Web browser. The complete solution was developed by RFID solutions provider Vilant Systems. The Finnish Road Administration's RFID pilot began in June 2008.

Soligie and Blue Spark Collaborate on Printed Electronics
Soligie, a manufacturer of printed electronics, and Blue Spark Technologies, a maker of printed, thin batteries, have announced a partnership in which the two companies will jointly market and develop Blue Spark's thin battery technology and Soligie's printed electronics capabilities. The partners indicate they expect the agreement to lead to a manufacturing collaboration for roll-to-roll volume production of Blue Spark batteries. Printed electronics is an emerging technology that employs standard printing processes to enable low-cost manufacturing of a variety of devices, including RFID tags, flexible displays, batteries and transistors. In a prepared statement, Soligie president Matt Timm said that by integrating Blue Spark's patented power technology into Soligie's growing portfolio of printed electronics technologies, "functional and flexible smart products such as labels, medical patches, security and access cards can become a reality in high volumes."

RFID Benefits Extend Beyond the Supply Chain, Aberdeen Study Reports
A new study from market research firm Aberdeen Group indicates companies actively leveraging RFID data to improve their businesses are achieving benefits within and beyond their supply chains by increasing employee productivity, improving customer relations and reducing operational expenses. Aberdeen surveyed more than 200 IT and business decision makers at enterprises across multiple market and business segments. Of those questioned, the research firm categorized the respondents as best-in-class, industry average and laggards, based on their use and experience with RFID. Best-in-class companies achieved an average 9.1 percent year-over-year increase in employee productivity, and a 1 percent year-over-year decrease in overall infrastructure costs. The survey also found best-in-class respondents to be more than 1.3 times as likely as industry-average participants, and more than 3.4 times as likely as laggards, to have the ability to craft effective RFID service level agreements (SLAs). What's more, the study indicated, they are more than 1.5 times as likely as industry-average firms, and more than 2.9 times as likely as laggard respondents, to have consolidated, integrated RFID performance monitoring in place. Furthermore, best-in-class respondents are more than 1.4 times as likely as industry-average participants, and more than 1.9 times as likely as laggards, to have middleware or other solutions in place for integrating RFID-generated data. Among those respondents identified as best-in-class, 100 percent have pursued RFID initiatives for at least a year, with 61 percent doing so for more than two years. The survey was underwritten by Alien Technology, Fluensee, Intelleflex and Motorola. A free copy of a report based on the survey, entitled "Where RFID Meets ROI: Beyond Supply Chains," can be downloaded here.
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