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RFID News Roundup

RFID analysts expect healthy market growth; PINC Solutions unveils cold chain tracking solution; Rush Tracking Systems adds optical positioning to RFID forklift; Ekahau, NavSync team up on Wi-Fi and GPS tracking solution; CenTrak intros thin hybrid active RFID/infrared tag for RTLS; Mojix unveils RTLS that leverages its passive RFID technology.
May 07, 2009The following are news announcements made during the past week.

RFID Analysts Expect Healthy Market Growth
Although the RFID market has slowed, it's faring better than others, according to two analysts. ABI Research indicates the RFID market should see an 11 percent growth between 2009 and 2010. "Transponders, readers, software and services are all showing healthy growth," said Michael Liard, the firm's practice director, in a prepared statement. "The most robust applications include contactless ticketing, contactless payments (particularly in North America and Europe), item-level tracking in fashion apparel and footwear, asset management (not only corporate assets, but also returnable transport items, tools/parts and work-in-process), baggage-handling, real-time location systems (RTLS) and electronic identification documents." ABI Research expects even stronger growth in 2010, especially during the second half, based on key economic and industry indicators. More information regarding these and other RFID markets is contained in the latest update to ABI Research's "Semi-Annual RFID Market Data." According to ABI Research, the report offers information on RFID revenues and unit shipments, segmented by technology, application and vertical market. Meanwhile, IDTechEx has announced it expects the value of the entire RFID market will be $5.56 billion this year, up from $5.25 billion in 2008. This includes tags, interrogators and software/services for RFID cards, labels, fobs and all other form factors. The majority of this spending will be on RFID cards and their associated services, IDTechEx reports, totaling $2.99 billion. According to IDTechEx, the market for RFID continues to grow, in particular due to government-led RFID schemes, such as those for transportation, national IDs (contactless cards and passports), military and animal tagging. Specifically, IDTechEx cites growth in the tagging of garments, with 200 million RFID labels being used globally for apparel in 2009 (including laundry applications); an increase in the tagging of animals (such as pigs and sheep), with 105 million tags being employed for this sector in 2009; and growth in transit, with approximately 350 million RFID tickets expected to be sold in 2009 for transit systems in cities around the world. IDTechEx anticipates a total of 2.35 billion tags will be sold in 2009, versus 1.97 billion in 2008, 1.74 billion in 2006 and 1.02 billion in 2005. One slow spot: the tagging of pallets and cases, with only 225 million passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags used for this application in 2009—much less than had been predicted a few years back. The findings are part of the firm's new report, "RFID Forecasts, Players & Opportunities 2009-2019," which addresses the global RFID situation. For more information about the report, go here.

PINC Solutions Unveils Cold Chain Tracking Solution
PINC Solutions a provider of yard-management solutions leveraging real-time location system (RTLS) technologies, has announced a new application for cold chain tracking and management. The Yard Hound Reefer system enables the automated, remote monitoring of temperatures within refrigerated trailers, as well as their fuel levels. The system leverages passive EPC Gen 2 RFID and ZigBee-based, IEEE 802.15.4-standard mesh networking technologies for transmitting monitored information from the trailers back to a database in real time. Available with permanent or temporary mounting options, the PINC Reefer Tag is a PINC Tag enhanced with low-power circuitry to monitor temperature, fuel level and the status of the attached trailer refrigeration unit. Customers can configure the system to set off automatic alarms, and notifications can be set to alert if, for example, a trailer's temperature exceeds predefined ranges and thresholds. The system also offers trailer temperature history and preventive-maintenance information for the monitored units.

Rush Tracking Systems Adds Optical Positioning to RFID Forklift
Rush Tracking Systems has announced it has integrated an optical positioning solution in its VisiblEdge RFID lift truck package. Rush is integrating optical real-time location system (RTLS) technology from Sky-Trax. To determine location, a Sky-Trax optical sensor, mounted on the forklift, is aimed at the ceiling and captures digital images of overhead position markers resembling 2-D bar codes. Software decodes the image to recognize a marker's location and calculate the forklift's position (see New Zealand Kiwifruit Processor Finds ROI). The integration is designed to help companies more accurately and efficiently locate and track assets using RFID-enabled lift trucks in place of, or in conjunction with, RFID portals or handhelds. VisiblEdge RFID-enabled lift trucks with optical positioning are designed to help companies track—with accuracy to within 1 foot—the movement and location of assets in warehouses, distribution centers and other industrial manufacturing environments. The data culled while utilizing the lift trucks can then be shared with a back-end warehouse management system (WMS) or ERP system. According to Rush Tracking Systems, this enables VisiblEdge users to optimize RFID lift truck fleet operation and management using truck location and run-time data. VisiblEdge combines RFID data collection devices, load-detection sensors, and now, positioning data, with VisiblEdge software. "Incorporating optical RTLS with our VisiblEdge solution provides our clients with a flexible and cost-effective option for the most demanding tracking and positioning use cases," said Toby Rush, Rush Tracking Systems' president and CEO, in a prepared statement. "As companies continue to rationalize facilities and evolve business processes on the floor, they want a positioning solution that can be configured in software versus concrete."

Ekahau, NavSync Team Up on Wi-Fi and GPS Tracking Solution
Wi-Fi-based real-time location systems (RTLS) provider Ekahau has announced that its Wi-Fi location-tracking software is being integrated into NavSync's NavTrac GPS module. The result, Ekahau reports, is a Wi-Fi-enabled RFID tag that will allow companies to track and locate assets in any environment, from inside a building or across a campus environment to anywhere around the world. Ekahau's technology enables location tracking over any existing standard Wi-Fi network. In order to begin tracking those devices, users need to deploy Ekahau Positioning Engine (EPE) server software. NavSync's NavTrac delivers low-signal-strength GPS tracking data for outdoor and other GPS coverage areas, while the Ekahau Positioning Engine and its patented algorithms are used to calculate the precise real-time location of indoor environments or campus settings in which GPS visibility may be limited. "We are excited to be working with NavSync to bring to market a solution that will significantly enhance the usefulness of location-tracking applications in a wide variety of industries—such as container yards, logistics depots and open-pit mining operations—where Wi-Fi can be leveraged for connectivity and GPS satellite visibility is available," said Ekahau's VP of business development, Tuomo Rutanen, in a prepared statement. The Wi-Fi-enabled RFID/GPS RTLS tag will be available from NavSync and Ekahau in the third quarter 2009.

CenTrak Intros Thin Hybrid Active RFID/Infrared Tag for RTLS
Real-time location systems (RTLS) provider CenTrak has announced its new IT-740 Staff Badge, a thin hybrid active RFID tag. The company claims its Staff Badge is so thin—only 3 millimeters (0.1 inch)—it is almost indistinguishable from a standard employee badge. This, according to CenTrak, enables hospitals and health-care facilities to layer a standard personnel badge on top of a tag so the tags can be seamlessly integrated into staff uniforms and hospital operations. Features of the new IT-740 staff badge include three programmable buttons, an LED, hole mounts for portrait or landscape orientation, water resistance for easy cleaning and ultra-long battery-life. The tags work with CenTrak's InTouchCare RTLS, which utilizes a combination of a patented new generation of infrared (Gen2IR) and RFID technologies. The system includes battery-powered beacons positioned where location data is needed (including, rooms, hallways and bays). The beacons transmit their unique room or bay number via infrared signals, which are received by any tag in that room. The tag then communicates the room number and its own unique ID, via RF communications, to the InTouchCare Location Server, where hospital personnel can access it in real time. Like light, Gen2IR infrared signals will not pass through walls, but they do not suffer from traditional IR line-of-sight limitations. Estimated location based on RF triangulation can be used as a secondary means of determining a tag's location in areas where there is no need for room or sub-room level of precision.

Mojix Unveils RTLS That leverages Its Passive RFID Technology
Mojix has announced Mojix Insight, a passive RFID real-time location system (RTLS) software application. The RTLS application leverages Mojix's STAR system, unveiled a year ago (see Mojix Takes Passive UHF RFID to a New Level), which reads passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags based on EPCglobal's Gen 2 air-interface protocol. Mojix Insight, designed to help companies locate and track goods in warehouses, storage yards and corporate facilities, supports commonly used devices found in RTLS implementations, such as PLCs, optical eyes and light stacks. The RTLS application, the company indicates, is designed to support complex business rules, business processes, custom alerts, telemetry devices and passive and active RFID devices. It can also be integrated with enterprise and back-end systems, such as warehouse management systems. Point-and-click features within the software let companies manage user roles and rights, organizational relationships, asset types, asset location, process control and work zones. Visual tools and reporting options provide users with the ability to view assets in real time across a zone, building or dock, view aggregate asset data, and gain insight into inventory levels and status via interactive dashboards. Custom reports provide information regarding data range, location or zone, material ID, and asset attributes. Mojix Insight was developed in partnership with InSync Software, which provides solutions leveraging RFID, GPS and sensor technologies to locate and track assets, improve operational efficiencies and manage risks. Mojix utilized InSync's iApp platform to enable the new Mojix Insight RTLS application. In addition, Mojix has announced a partnership with SRA International, a provider of technology and consulting services and solutions to government organizations and commercial clients. Mojix will work with SRA to deliver RFID-enabled solutions for government organizations.
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