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RFID News Roundup

New metal-mount tags hit the market; Industrial Portals launches Gnome RFID pedestals; Smartrac intros RFID inlays with shielding; online site helps companies find skilled RFID employees; Wavetrend secures $5 million in funding; VeriChip continues sales of VeriTrace disaster relief system.
Apr 23, 2009The following are news announcements made during the past week.

New Metal-Mount Tags Hit the Market
Balluff, a U.S. manufacturer of inductive, optical, capacitive and magnetic sensors, as well as linear position transducers and ID systems, and Finnish tag maker Confidex have each announced new metal-mount tags designed to be directly affixed to metal surfaces—without the use of foam or plastic spacers—and operate without associated interference that metal can cause to RF signals. Balluff's new M-M tag is a high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz transponder that supports the ISO 15693 standard. The tag supports a read range of up to 65 millimeters (2.6 inches) and is enclosed in a compact housing to allow flexible mounting and sustainability. The M-M tag can operate in temperatures ranging from -25 degrees to 130 degrees Celsius (-13 degrees to 266 degrees Fahrenheit) for up to 1,000 hours. There are two RFID interrogator options to choose from: a self-contained processor and read/write head with a built-in RS-232 serial interface, and a read/write head that needs to be connected to any of Balluff's various remote processors. Using a remote processor expands the communication options to include DeviceNet, Profibus, Ethernet/IP and TCP/IP, Modbus-IP or the new ProfiNet Ethernet bus. Confidex, meanwhile, has unveiled its SteelWING tag, an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tag that supports the EPC Class 1 Gen 2 specification. The tag offers a read range of up to 10 meters (32 feet) and has an adhesive backing so it can be directly attached to a metal surface. According to Confidex, SteelWING can also be attached to other materials though it will operate with slightly reduced performance when not attached directly to a metal surface. SteelWING is equipped with NXP Semiconductors' G2XM chip, and Confidex says it can deliver the SteelWING with pre-encoding or a customer-specific label visually showing the encoded data in bar-code or human-readable form. Confidex will showcase the new SteelWING UHF RFID tag in Booth 402 at RFID Journal LIVE! 2009, being held on Apr. 27-29, in Orlando, Fla.

Industrial Portals Launches Gnome RFID Pedestals
Industrial Portals, a division of Jamison Door Co., based in Hagerstown, Md., has announced a line of compact pedestals for mounting EPC Gen 2 RFID interrogators and antennas in retail, institutional, office and data-center environments. The stands, known as the Gnome series, provide an alternative to the industrial-style cabinets currently available, according to Industrial Portals, by providing businesses with equipment that blends in better with the décor of their store, office, data center or other professional location. The Gnome is available in configurations that have a minimum height of 51 inches, width of 22 inches and thickness of 5 inches, and can be used to read EPC Gen 2 tags, either in pairs or as a freestanding single unit. The units are scalable and will accommodate most major brands of RFID equipment, but plug-and-play units are also available that include readers and antennas. "Our customers are seeing a growing need for aesthetically pleasing RFID units that blend well in their environments, and this unit does that very well," said Curtis Berry, Jamison's VP of engineering, in a prepared statement. The Gnome is offered with either solid oak side trim in four finishes, or a more industrial matte aluminum finish. The units easily bolt to the floor or to a wall using a special wall-mount bracket, the company reports.

Smartrac Intros RFID Inlays With Shielding
Smartrac, an RFID inlay supplier headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, has added to its portfolio of Composite Prelam products with integrated shielding material designed to mitigate any interference from metal and other materials that can interfere with RF reception. The products can be attached to mobile phones and other items, Smartrac reports, and are suited for such applications as access control, payment and transportation. In addition, they can be customized and are available in various form factors. Smartrac's Composite Prelam products are composed of PVC and manufactured with the company's proprietary patented wire-embedding technology. According to the company, the proprietary integrated shielding material allows the tag to function normally even when mounted on mobile telephone batteries, metallic housings and other conductive materials. Smartrac has already delivered its first orders of the Composite Prelam in the range of several million pieces, the company reports, with subsequent orders expected shortly.

Online Site Helps Companies Find Skilled RFID Employees
OTA Ventures, which operates an RFID certification training subsidiary, OTA Training, has announced the launch of sister company RFID Jobing. The new online, dynamic job-placement service is devoted to helping companies find and hire qualified personnel for their RFID initiatives. The site matches skilled individuals with projects and positions related to RFID, contactless/NFC and wireless technologies. Employers can post projects and staffing needs on the site to find both long- and short-term employees, and prospective employees can post their résumés on the site. RFID Jobing is headquartered in Dallas, Texas.

Wavetrend Secures $5 Million in Funding
Wavetrend, a U.K. provider of active RFID solutions based in Surrey, has announced that it has secured $5 million in funding and completed a successful management buyout. Wavetrend remains a private company, now owned by its management team and new financial backers. The firm's new backers include established technology investors who will assist Wavetrend in its strategic efforts to offer its solutions into new vertical markets, the company indicates. The executive management team will continue to be led by Saleem Miyan, Wavetrend's incumbent CEO. "This investment in Wavetrend is a validation of the quality and marketability of the solutions we offer," Miyan said in a prepared statement. "Wavetrend has established itself as a leading provider of solutions to monitor and track critical high-value assets, people and vehicles, and we are well-positioned to build on our record of success." The investment round was led by Gulf Capital.

VeriChip Continues Sales of VeriTrace Disaster Relief System
Though its future has been uncertain for some time (see VeriChip to Place Implantable Division on Block), RFID solutions provider VeriChip has announced that its VeriTrace solution has two new customers: New Jersey's Atlantic and Mercer counties. VeriTrace includes implantable RFID tags to identify and track the remains of deceased individuals, and was used to help the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams identify and track the remains of those who died during Hurricane Katrina (see VeriChip's VeriTrace Platform Sees Sales Boost). Since then, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Hawaii Department of Health, the Florida Emergency Mortuary Operations Response System (FEMORS) and the medical examiner's office in the Department of Heath in New York's Erie County have all purchased the system. The VeriTrace system includes the implantable RFID chips, a VeriTrace Bluetooth handheld reader, a customized Ricoh 500SE Digital Camera capable of wirelessly receiving both RFID scanned data and GPS information, and a Web-enabled database for gathering and storing information and images captured during emergency response operations. "These recent orders reflect the continued demand for the VeriTrace system by emergency management personnel and medical examiners throughout the country," said Marc Poulshock, VP of VeriChip's Implantable and Emergency Management divisions, in a prepared statement.
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