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RFID News Roundup

Two additional hospitals implement RFID-enabled surgical sponges; RF Code announces wire-free liquid detection sensor; ThingMagic releases new open API for its RFID readers; Italian soccer leagues to offer RFID cards to fans; Malaysian libraries implement UHF RFID system; SmarTrac announces UHF RFID transponder for laundry applications.
Aug 27, 2009The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Two Additional Hospitals Implement RFID-enabled Surgical Sponges
St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart, Ind., and Saint Vincent Hospital, in Worcester, Mass., have implemented an RFID-enabled system for tracking and locating surgical sponges from RF Surgical Systems, a privately held medical device company headquartered in Bellevue, Wash. The RF Surgical Detection System consists of a handheld scanning wand connected to compact, self-calibrating RFID reader. The system is used in conjunction with passive 145 kHz RFID tags embedded in a variety of surgical gauzes and sponges. When the wand is passed over a patient prior to closing procedures, an audible and visual alarm immediately signals the presence of any retained object fitted with a tag. The system received U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulatory approval in November 2006 (see Medline Markets RFID System for Surgical Sponges), and according to RF Surgical Systems has been used in more than 640,000 surgical cases at more than 70 hospitals. In a prepared statement, Glenn Carlos, MD, chairman of surgery at St. Mary Medical Center, noted that the "new technology adds very little time or effort to the surgical process, and it will be used in addition to traditional tracking methods. It also offers great peace of mind to patients and their families." The implementation of the RFID-enabled system at Saint Vincent Hospital is a direct outcome of the hospital's recent patient-safety initiative, announced in April. "We have taken a proactive approach to preventing retained sponges by utilizing the RF Surgical Detection System in all our surgical areas," Saint Vincent's chief medical officer, Octavio Diaz, said in a prepared statement. "This includes open-cavity surgeries in the OR, Labor and Delivery and in our Electro-Physical Lab for pacemaker and ICD implants."

RF Code Announces Wire-Free Liquid Detection Sensor
RF Code, an RFID hardware and systems provider based in Austin, Texas, has introduced a real-time liquid detection sensor that can be used to determine whether there is any liquid or excessive moisture that could damage IT assets. The wireless sensor eliminates the need to wire or cable a data center, according to RF Code. The sensor combines thin-film fluid sensing technology developed by Korea-based Yumin System Technology Co. with RF Code's real-time, wire-free environmental monitoring technology. The sensor can be wrapped around floor or ceiling pipes, attached to vulnerable areas, including under or above a raised floor, installed by water delivery systems and chillers, including those found under raised floors in older data centers, or attached to air conditioning units and walls. The fluid sensor is wired to an RF Code active RFID tag via a 3-meter-long cord to allow maximum placement flexibility. Like all of RF Code's wire-free sensors, information captured by the tag is automatically sent to the company's Sensor Manager software, which provides real-time monitoring and alerting about environmental conditions at a site (see RFID Protects 911 Center From IT Emergencies). According to RF Code, if a film-based sensor detects a leak, it can be wiped down and immediately readied for use, compared to other available leak detection sensors that need time to air-dry between water incidents. In addition, the amount of liquid presence needed to initiate a leak alert is minimal, the company says.

ThingMagic Releases New Open API for its RFID Readers
RFID interrogator supplier ThingMagic has announced a newly redesigned application programming interface (API) that developers can use to configure, control and access the company's line of embedded, fixed and integrated UHF RFID readers. By providing a common, open API for all its readers, ThingMagic says it will make it easier for developers to create custom applications. "Altogether, this dramatically reduces time to market, speeds ROI and supports our goal of making RFID readers easy for our customers to use," Yael Maguire, cofounder and CTO of ThingMagic, said in a prepared statement. Called the Mercury API, the programmatic interface lets developers design and test reader and tag commands; program advanced reader functions such as setting antennas, protocols and filtering criteria; program advanced tag operations such as killing and locking tags; create privacy and security features; and optimize performance and memory. Available now, the Mercury API works across the M5e reader module family, the Mercury5 reader, the enterprise-grade Astra reader, the ruggedized Vega reader and the USB desktop reader. The Mercury API is available for several programming languages. It is written in Java and C# and supports .NET applications in the .NET Compact Framework 2.0, Windows applications in the .NET Framework, and Windows, Linux (Intel) and MacOSX applications in the Java Framework. The interface communicates with readers through a TCP-based network connection or via local serial ports.

Italian Soccer Leagues to Offer RFID Cards to Fans
Lega Pro, a group of professional soccer leagues in Italy, is working with Telecom Italia, an Italian provider of fixed-line and mobile telecommunications, Internet and media solutions and services, and business systems and solutions, to provide soccer fans RFID-enabled ID cards for entrance into stadiums where the more than 90 affiliated clubs of Lega Pro play. Soccer fans will use the RFID cards to purchase tickets for matches, as well as access various services at the stadium grounds, such as fast-track turnstiles. The Tessera del Tifoso (Fan's Card) also doubles as a Visa credit card. Each card contains a 13.56 MHz RFID tag compliant with the ISO 14443 standard and leverages a network platform built by Telecom Italia and hosted at one of the its data centers. The platform automatically records tickets purchased online or at ticket offices made by Tessera del Tifoso cardholders. Employees manning turnstiles at football grounds are being issued special RFID reader-equipped mobile terminals. When the Tessera del Tifoso is waved in front of a terminal, the handheld device reads the cardholder's name and other data encoded to the RFID microchip embedded in the card, and ensures that the fan has a valid match day ticket by communicating (via high-speed mobile broadband) with the back-end system at the data center and checking against the data stored there. Although the cards are designed to provide fans with easier access to service and benefits, they are also being used to help Lega Pro enforce rules recommended by Italy's National Monitoring Center on Sporting Events, and enable Lega Pro to promote the concept of "official" fans who voluntarily abide by a code of conduct, according to Telecom Italia. Other soccer leagues around the world are also leveraging 13.56 MHz RFID technology, including the Manchester City Football Club (see Soccer Fans Use RFID Cards to Gain Admission and Buy Food).

Malaysian Libraries Implement UHF RFID Systems
The Penang Public Library in Malaysia is outfitting its six libraries with RFID technology from RFID tag manufacturer UPM Raflatac. The solution is compliant with the EPC Gen 2 standard and was developed and implemented by RFID systems provider Smartag Solutions. The Penang Public Library houses about 500,000 copies of reading materials and serves more than 800,000 people. The RFID system uses UPM Raflatac DogBone tags and includes RFID stations that library patrons can use to check in and check out materials, review their account status and renew materials in real time. It also includes RFID interrogators with read ranges of up to 7 meters at library entrances. The devices are programmed to detect tagged books that don't have a checkout code; an alarm is triggered when items pass through that haven't been coded as borrowed. "The tagged library materials enable patrons to self-checkout and return materials quickly and efficiently. There's no more bar-code scanning or date stamping—items are placed on the RFID reader, and within seconds the material and user information are updated in the library system," said Shukriah Yon, director of the Penang Public Library, in a prepared statement.

SmarTrac Announces a UHF RFID Transponder for Laundry Applications
SmarTrac, an RFID inlay supplier headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, has announced SmartFlexibleTag, a UHF RFID transponder designed for use with laundry applications. The transponder features a silicone coating and is able to withstand temperatures of up to 180 degrees Celsius, high pressure and aggressive chemicals. It features an integrated anti-collision algorithm so that stacked garments can be read simultaneously at distances of more than several meters, according to SmarTrac. The SmartFlexibleTag is equipped with Alien Technology's Higgs 2 chip, which operates at extremely low power levels and conforms to the EPC Gen 2 standard.
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