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RFID News Roundup

Confidex unveils RFID tag that meets financial consortium's specs; two groups promise to align efforts on NFC deployments; Netsize, Airtag offer mobile marketing solution with NFC capability; Academia RFID Centre for Excellence partners with France's Traç@bilitic; MicroGen gets funding for MEMS-based energy harvester.
Feb 19, 2009The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Confidex Unveils RFID Tag That Meets Financial Consortium's Specs
Confidex, a Finnish tag manufacturer, has announced that its SteelBIT EPC Class 1 Gen 2 tag is compliant with newly published standards from the Financial Services Technology Consortium (FSTC) for implementing RFID-based systems to track IT assets within data centers. The FSTC, a New York-based organization comprising North American financial institutions, technology vendors, research groups and government agencies, is encouraging the use of the RFID standards by all types of firms that maintain data centers, and that must track large numbers of IT assets (see Financial Consortium Publishes RFID Standards for IT Assets). Requirements in the FSTC RFID specifications, according to Confidex, include a detailed pre-encoding scheme, human and machine-readability specs, and a list of tag performance requirements. Available now, the SteelBIT is pre-encoded according to the FSTC encoding scheme and has the requisite specific layout, consisting of the printed 2-D data matrix and number series showing the tag IC data. Customer logos can also be included if needed, Confidex reports. In addition, the SteelBIT tag meets the consortium's RFID tag-range performance requirements (a 3-foot reading range for handheld readers and a 6-foot reading range for fixed interrogators). Confidex worked with a third-party organization (which the company is not at liberty to name) to test SteelBIT's compliance with the FSTC requirements, and is also conducting its own internal testing, according to Bill Compitello, Confidex's director of sales and business development in the Americas.

GlobalPlatform and StoLPaN Promise to Align Efforts on NFC Deployments
GlobalPlatform, an international specification group focused on smart card infrastructure, and StoLPaN, a pan-European consortium that aims to identify the technical and commercial frameworks required to securely deliver Near Field Communication (NFC) applications to mobile devices, have announced they will ensure that their respective approaches to the development of NFC deployments will be compatible. The two organizations indicate this will help establish a standard approach to the mass-market deployment of NFC in Europe. The cooperation includes StoLPaN's business model, which enables an end user to have a direct relationship with a service provider and the ability to load a service onto their handset, to be delivered using GlobalPlatform's Universal Integrated Circuit Card (UICC) configuration. According to the two groups, this technical document, downloadable from GlobalPlatform's Web site, outlines a neutral environment to deliver over-the-air mobile services to consumers. In addition, GlobalPlatform's forthcoming technology that lets an application provider deploy contactless services in a mobile handset, and communicate directly with a customer, will align with the end user and handset application business model as defined by StoLPaN. "By working with trade associations such as GlobalPlatform, StoLPaN aims to achieve a sustainable and standardized NFC ecosystem in Europe," said Andras Vilmos, StoLPaN's project manager, in a prepared statement. "By ensuring GlobalPlatform technology is compliant with the efforts of StoLPaN," added Gil Bernabeu, technical director at GlobalPlatform and a technical advisor for the standardization and technology department at Gemalto, "we can guarantee that our infrastructure is supported by this important European NFC business environment and will be used to its full potential."

Netsize, Airtag Offer Mobile Marketing Solution With NFC Capability
Netsize, a provider of mobile communications, payment and content solutions, and Airtag, a Vanves, France, provider of Near Field Communication (NFC) applications and services for retailers, have teamed up to offer an NFC-enabled mobile marketing solution that enables retailers to provide customers with interactive marketing services. The solution, which can be integrated with existing point-of-sale systems, combines Airtag's PAD contactless solution, a multi-media terminal that integrates a variety of card technologies (bar code, magnetic, chip, and contactless smart cards) and numerous mobile technologies (NFC, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G wireless networking and 2-D bar coding) with Netsize's mMarketing mobile campaign management services. The mMarketing services allow retailers to inform and interact with their customers, manage opt-in mailing lists and launch marketing campaigns. With Airtag's PAD solution, retailers can let customers easily sign up for SMS and e-mail campaigns at the point of sale by, for instance, waving their NFC-enabled mobile phone over the PAD terminal, effectively opting in to a marketing service. Netsize demonstrated the integrated mMarketing-PAD solution this week at the GSMA Mobile World Congress 2009 in Barcelona.

Academia RFID Centre for Excellence Partners With France's Traç@bilitic
Montreal's Academia RFID Centre for Excellence, which specializes in RFID and provides training, research, and development and consulting, has announced that it has signed an agreement with France's Traç@bilitic, which aims to guide companies in the process of implementing a traceability technology, including RFID. Traç@bilitic is the projects department of Pôle Traçabilité, a nonprofit organization that works with companies to help them improve supply chain and other processes, add value to their products and create new services using tagging technologies like RFID. The Academia RFID Centre for Excellence will provide Traç@bilitic with access to all of the knowledge and teaching material it has developed over the past few years. "We are engaged in general-interest undertakings aimed at promoting the development of technologies associated with material traceability by examining the various methods to be adopted in the area of health, in the field of agriculture, or in the automobile industry in France," said Jean-Marc Morlet, president of Traç@bilitic, in a prepared statement. "Partnering with Academia RFID gives a unique international dimension to the training programs we offer our members, partners and customers, because they have earned an excellent reputation over the past few years thanks to its outstanding expertise in the field."

MicroGen Gets Funding for MEMS-based Energy Harvester
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has awarded MicroGen Systems a $300,000 contract for a project focused on developing an energy harvester application for capturing and storing energy for wireless sensor networks that leverages micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS). MEMS—small silicon chips that can combine mechanical elements, sensors, actuators and electronics—have been used for several decades in everything from inkjet printers to accelerometers that deploy air bags in cars. The project is also being funded by the University of Vermont (UVM), the Infotonics Technology Center (ITC)—which specializes in MEMS design, fabrication and packaging services—and MicroGen itself, which is a spinout of UVM. "The wireless sensor network market is growing quickly, yet is limited by existing short-lifetime batteries," said Robert Andosca, MicroGen's president and CEO, in a prepared statement. "Providing a green, virtually infinite alternative power source to traditional energy sources will significantly expand applications for wireless sensor networks and other technologies." MicroGen hopes to have a fully functional prototype of the MEMS-based energy harvester by the end of the first quarter of 2009.
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