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RFID News Roundup

ODIN Technologies launches free tag-pricing guide; Savi Technology, AeroScout settle lawsuit; CAEN RFID announces Bluetooth-enabled UHF reader; RFID Global Solution, Ubisense partner on RTLS for defense, aerospace; Brooks Automation unveils RFID reader for tracking solar cell production; IDTronic announces mobile RFID interrogator for UHF; VingCard intros electronic locking system that uses Bluetooth.
May 28, 2009The following are news announcements made during the past week.

ODIN Technologies Launches Free Tag-Pricing Guide
ODIN Technologies has announced the first in a series of periodic publications designed to address the cost of RFID tags. Offered free to end users, the guides will track pricing trends over time. To create the guides—the first of which is now available for download here—ODIN Technologies is collecting list prices from leading RFID label converters and manufacturers. The first such publication, the "RFID Tag Pricing Guide," presents low, high and average prices, and focuses on three types of tags across two frequency ranges and industry standards: the ISO 15693 high-frequency (HF) standard and the ISO 18000-6C / EPCglobal Class 1 Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) standard. Future editions may include pricing for other types of tags, though ODIN says these three types are those that customers most commonly ask about through the company's Ask the RFID Expert free question-and-answer service. In the first guide, ODIN has determined the average price for an order of 10,000 fully converted UHF 4- by 6-inch smart labels to be 15 cents per tag; for 100,000 of those same tags, the guide reports, the average per-tag price falls to 12 cents. For low quantities of UHF metal-mount tags, the average price per tag is $3.21 for a small tag (less than 1,000 square millimeters, or 1.55 square inches, in size), $3.61 for a medium-sized tag (between 1,000 and 2,500 square millimeters, or 1.55 and 3.88 square inches) and $4.69 for a large tag (greater than 2,500 square millimeters, or 3.88 square inches). In addition to tag prices, the guide offers advice regarding what to consider—such as features, characteristics and performance—when shopping for tags.

Savi Technology, AeroScout Settle Lawsuit
Active RFID hardware and services provider Savi Technology and real-time location system (RTLS) provider AeroScout have announced the resolution of a lawsuit between the two companies. Each of the companies reports that it has reached a favorable settlement of the suit, which had been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Neither firm, however, would disclose terms of the settlement. AeroScout says it is pleased with results, that it had initiated the suit in July 2008 citing patent invalidity, and that the resulting settlement does not limit AeroScout in terms of how it uses and markets its technology, nor in terms of how the company conducts its business. Savi says the settlement resolves a dispute between the two companies concerning Savi's patented low-frequency RFID technology. Specifically, the patents involved in the dispute included U.S. Patent Nos. 6,542,114, 6,765,484 and 6,940,392, covering Savi's "Low-Frequency Wakeup" technology that the company says provides extended battery life and improved location capabilities for active RFID devices. In the lawsuit, Savi contended that AeroScout infringed these three patents. In a prepared statement, David Stephenes, Savi Technology's CEO, said the firm invests a great deal of capital and resources in research and development, adding, "our licensees have confidence that we will stand behind our intellectual property and that we will aggressively protect our patent rights to ensure standards-based interoperability throughout the world."

CAEN RFID Announces Bluetooth-enabled UHF Reader
Italian company CAEN RFID has announced the availability of its CAEN A828BT, a Bluetooth-enabled ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) portable reader compliant with the ISO 18000-6B and ISO 18000-6C/EPC C1G2 standards. The device can operate either in wired mode, using a USB connection, or in wireless mode, through its integrated Bluetooth transceiver. The Bluetooth capability enables the A828BT to work as an add-on to any Bluetooth device, such as a PC, smart phone, PDA or BlackBerry, thus making it useable for proximity UHF readings. The A828BT comes with a number of accessories, including a two-slot battery charger and a clip-on pistol-grip handle. According to CAEN RFID, as part of its Easy2Read family of passive UHF readers-writers, the A828BT tag can read tags at close range, or within a range of several meters. CAEN RFID also offers several Easy2Read tags, including a passive UHF tag designed for use on metal and a semi-passive Easy2Log tag for the monitoring and recording of temperatures of perishable products in transit (such as food or chemical/pharmaceutical products in cold storage).

RFID Global Solution, Ubisense Partner on RTLS for Defense, Aerospace
RFID and asset visibility solutions provider RFID Global Solution and Ubisense, a supplier of ultra-wideband (UWB) real-time location systems (RTLS), have launched an integrated RTLS for the aerospace and defense markets. The system leverages Ubisense's UWB products and RFID Global Solution's Visi-Trac software, an enterprise-wide platform designed to capture data from a variety of RFID and sensor technologies, including active and passive RFID, UWB, GPS, bar-code and temperature-sensor technologies, then map that information in a variety of dashboard applications. RFID Global Solution announced the Visi-Trac platform at RFID Journal LIVE! 2009, held last month in Orlando, Fla. (see RFID Global Solution Intros Platform for RFID, Sensors and More). "Visi-Trac allows customers to rapidly integrate and deploy scalable, real-time visibility solutions," said Richard Green, Ubisense's CEO, in a prepared statement. "What caught our attention about the Visi-Trac platform is that it has already been deployed at a number of [RFID Global Solution's] customers," including Boeing, the U.S. Army, other U.S. Department of Defense services, Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing and other customers.

Brooks Automation Unveils RFID Reader for Solar Power Cell Production
RFID systems provider Brooks Automation has announced a new RFID reader designed specifically for the solar power cell industry. The solution is designed to help companies track solar cell production from source to assembly. The HF80 Series consists of a 13.56 MHz RFID reader, antenna and transponder compliant with the ISO 15693 standard, and includes an Ethernet and/or serial RS232 interface. The reader's five antenna ports minimize the cost per reading point, the company reports, and ensure best-in-class reading ranges and reliability. According to Brooks Automation, the HF80 Series is intended for use in the production process, and can be integrated with production machines, as well as into picking stations.

IDTronic Announces Mobile RFID Interrogator for UHF
IDTronic, an RFID hardware provider based in Germany, has introduced the Mobile RFID Terminal UHF Gun, a battery-powered RFID interrogator designed to provide long-range reading for tags and labels compliant with the ISO 18000-6 B/C standards. According to IDTronic, the interrogator—which has an IP54 rating, so it is dust- and water–resistant—offers a reading distance of up to 2 meters (6.6 feet). Its form factor is that of a gun, with what the company describes as a pistol grip. A 3.5-inch touch screen (a sunlight-readable LCD with LED backlight) allows for easier reading in a variety of lighting conditions, the company reports. IDTronic offers docking stations in which the Mobile RFID Terminal UHF Gun can be placed for battery-charging, as well as for uploading and synchronizing RFID data with back-end systems. The standard communication is provided with the integrated USB, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi interfaces. GSM, GPRS and EDGE are available as options, further extending the interrogator's communications capabilities. Other options include a one-dimensional laser scanner, a 2-D bar-code imager, a 1.3-megapixel fixed-focus camera with flash, a GPS receiver, a powered cradle for vehicle-mount applications and a single or 4-slot cradle. The interrogator runs under the Windows CE 5.0 and Windows Mobile 6.0 operating systems.

VingCard Intros Electronic Locking System that Uses Bluetooth
VingCard, a hospitality security provider and part of the Assa Abloy Hospitality Group, has unveiled a new patent-pending wireless online electronic locking system designed for hotels. VisionLine is built on the ZigBee Alliance's open platform that leverages the IEEE 802.15.4 standard and operates worldwide at 2.4GHz. The ZigBee Alliance is an association of companies working to define ZigBee standards, provide interoperability and conformance-testing specifications, and promote the technology's adoption. VingCard's VisionLine enables hotels to wirelessly operate individual electronic locks from a central PC, thereby eliminating the need for locks to be manually interrogated to download the audit trail or reprogram the lock. All data retrieval and information updating can be performed remotely from the main VisionLine PC, including canceling guest cards and master cards. The system offers transmission distances ranging from 10 to 100 meters (33 to 328 feet), depending on power output and other factors. VisionLine is designed to replace other electronic locking systems, such as those that utilize infrared technology. "Instead of using an infrared solution in which one device is needed per guestroom, an RF solution uses only one device to communicate with multiple guestrooms," said Rune Venas, president of Assa Abloy Hospitality Inc. in North America, in a prepared statement.
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