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RFID Weekly News Roundup -- July 16, 2009

RFID at Wal-Mart, wine sales, a major RTLS implementation, $20 million in venture funding for one RFID company and €65 million in credit for another are among the highlights from this week's industry news roundup.
Jul 16, 2009This article was originally published by RFID Update.

July 16, 2009—What if Wal-Mart threw an RFID party and (almost) nobody came? It happened in Wisconsin and highlights this week's roundup of RFID activity, which includes major implementation and product development announcements in RTLS, millions invested in RFID companies, RFID being integrated with facial recognition and breathalyzers to automate wine selling, and new implementations in environments ranging from libraries to casinos.
  • Forbes reports a distribution center tour Wal-Mart gave for Wisconsin public officials didn't go as well as planned, as several key lawmakers skipped the event, leaving those there without a quorum and triggering open meeting concerns. Wal-Mart used the tour to educate Wisconsin state lawmakers about the RFID technology used in the facility, because there is pending legislation that would regulate the use of RFID tags on goods sold at retail.
  • Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center (WFUBMC) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina is implementing an RTLS system to track infusion pumps at its North Carolina Baptist Hospital, and will track all stretchers and wheelchairs used throughout the health system. Patient Care Technology Systems (PCTS), which provided its Amelior Tracker system to Wake Forest University Medical Center, said in its announcement the deployment will eventually become the largest healthcare implementation of RTLS. The WFUMBC hospital has 1,056 beds, and the Wake Forest health system includes 22 facilities. ARAMARK Healthcare is managing the implementation and the Amelior system includes RTLS technology from CenTrak.
  • Kovio, the startup developer of printable RFID chip technology, has raised $20 million in a fifth round of funding, reports VentureBeat. The new round brings total funding in the company to $80 million. For recent RFID Update coverage of Kovio see Kovio Set to Commercialize Printed RFID Tags.
  • SMARTRAC Group, a Dutch company that manufacturers RFID inlays used in passports, announced it closed a €65 million credit facility with several European financial institutions. The company plans to use €50 million to refinance existing bridge loans and the balance to support growth opportunities, both organic and by acquisition.
  • Impinj passive UHF chips crossed the finish line first, last, and everywhere in between during the inaugural Rock & Roll Marathon held recently in Seattle. All 25,000+ competitors were tracked at 18 points throughout the course with ChronoTrack Systems' race timing system, which features Impinj passive UHF readers and disposable peel-off tags that are applied to runners' shoes. See more details here.
  • The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is preparing a high-tech self-service pilot for purchasing wine that will include an RFID tag on each wine bottle. The pilot will also include facial recognition to match customers with their drivers license pictures and a breathalyzer to prevent sales to customers who are drunk. StorefrontBacktalk reports details here.
  • Technology companies are trying to persuade India's government to open 13.56 MHz spectrum so RFID systems can be used more easily, SiliconIndia reports.
  • Scott Air Force Base Medical Center is implementing a Gen2 passive UHF system from AssetPulse to track IT assets. AssetPulse announced its software, handheld readers and Steelwave tags from Confidex will be used to track and inventory assets that are distributed in more than 2,000 rooms.
  • Micronetics announced it has received a $750,000 contract from an unnamed retailer to provide an RFID-enabled forklift system. The retailer will reportedly conduct beta tests over several months at multiple locations to see how the forklift RFID readers perform and how the data can be integrated with its warehouse management system.
  • ThingMagic introduced new hardware and software components to help developers create embedded RFID systems using the company's Mercury5e passive UHF reader module family. The new components include a multiplexer to integrate a reader with up to eight antennas, a heatsink for enclosing modules for use in hot and cold environments, an interface board, power supply options and other hardware. The software includes a new API that supports the Java, C#, .NET and Python development environments.
  • Innovatier, an active RFID developer headquartered in Lakeland, Florida, announced it was awarded a US patent for an RFID bracelet and the means of production.
  • TAGSYS has updated its product line for libraries. The company introduced its new L-SP3 pedestal with enhanced detection and security capabilities, and the new Folio Archive Tag for use on valuable documents.
  • Balluff, a worldwide sensor and industrial automation manufacturer, introduced an ISO 15693-standard HF system optimized for mounting on metal. The system includes new M-M tags and a range of reader head modules that were developed for use in production lines, material handling systems and other industrial environments.
  • RF-iT Solutions of Graz, Austria, developed its You-R OPEN 3.4 software to enhance the RFID capabilities of the Microsoft BizTalk Server 2009. According to RF-iT's announcement, the company's software serves as a platform for configuring and managing devices and integrating RFID data into BizTalk server and ERP software.
  • Market research firm Frost & Sullivan released projections for the RFID reader market in Asia Pacific, which it predicts will reach $503.9 million in 2015. The market was valued at $134.3 million last year.
  • Bibliotheca recently announced that its year-to-date sales of RFID library systems in North America has doubled the sales seen during the same period in 2008. "Despite significant economic challenges this year, libraries continue to increase their investment in RFID and automated materials handling solutions as the efficiencies allow them to handle the increase in demand for patron services while lowering operating costs," Bibliotheca president and CEO Lamar Jackson was quoted in the press release.
  • Investment advice media firm Motley Fool says Gaming Partners International is a good bet for a small cap stock that will grow, in part because of the RFID gambling chips it produces. See the Foolish logic g2 outlined in this article.
  • The Dragon Hotel in Hangzhou, China is implementing RFID as part of the Smart Hotel system from IBM that integrates a variety of wireless and communication technologies to provide guest services and streamline facility management. See more details in IBM's announcement.
  • Previously this week RFID Update covered the latest worldwide RFID market forecast from VDC Research which found several bright spots and predicts overall growth for the industry this year (see RFID Market Performing Unevenly During Recession).
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