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RFID News Roundup

IBM adds analytic app for container tracking to InfoSphere Traceability Server; Inside Contactless works on new NFC application development platform, provides tags for Taggo universal loyalty cards; ABI Research sees bright spots in RFID market; G&D rolls out cell phone sticker for contactless payments; U.S. Marine Corps taps SRA for RFID implementation; Atlantic City's Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino wins big with RFID; IPS ships new thin-film, single cell battery.
Nov 19, 2009The following are news announcements made during the past week.

IBM Adds Analytic App for Container Tracking to InfoSphere Traceability Server
IBM has unveiled new software that it says strengthens its IBM InfoSphere Traceability Server, designed to allow organizations to use data from RFID readers and other sensors to gather and share intelligence on items as they move through the supply chain. The new software, known as Returnable Container Management, was specifically designed for governments, automotive manufacturers, parts suppliers and other businesses to track the exact locations of containers and other reusable assets used to move parts and products. According to Daniel G. Hernandez, IBM's product manager for InfoSphere Traceability Server, the software—which complements the previous real-time reporting and analysis functionality available in InfoSphere Traceability Server—is a packaged analytic application that includes out-of-the-box reports, dashboards and alerts that, combined, represent industry best practices. "By taking this extra step, we are helping companies achieve a faster return by wringing out the costs of customization and long development lead times," Hernandez says. "Customers can use the out-of-the-box functionality to understand current and historical performance relative to inventory and cycle time benchmarks." Customers can affix RFID tags to their reusable containers, use fixed and mobile interrogators to read those tags, and feed the tag reads into the system, then use the analytic application to track the exact location of a particular container as it moves along the supply chain. Returnable Container Management is Web-based, so organizations and their trading partners can use a Web browser to determine where each container is located at any given point. If a container reaches the wrong site, the system will alert management. According to IBM, the new software is being utilized in a pilot project launched by the Vietnamese State Agency for Technological Innovation and the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers to track the country's seafood exports—a market worth more than $4.25 billion in 2008 (see Vietnamese Seafood Producers Look to RFID). Returnable Container Management was developed at IBM's Silicon Valley Lab, drawing on the analytics capabilities of IBM Cognos.

Inside Contactless Works on New NFC Application Development Platform, Provides Tags for Taggo Universal Loyalty Cards
Inside Contactless, a provider of contactless chip technologies, has partnered with Mobile Distillery, a software maker and specialist in mobile technologies and handsets, to create a new Near Field Communication (NFC) mobile application development platform. The two companies indicate their partnership will help boost the development of NFC applications for the Wave-Me NFC services platform—an end-to-end solution enabling carriers and third-party service providers to offer subscribers access to a range of consumer services and applications through their mobile phones. The new NFC mobile application development platform, called "Celsius for Wave-Me," combines Mobile Distillery's Celsius mobile application production framework with Inside Contactless' Wave-Me Service Engine, a key component of the Wave-Me NFC services platform. Celsius for Wave-Me will also include deeply integrated connectivity to Inside Contactless' MicroRead NFC chip, and software that is designed to optimize the performance of an NFC mobile phone by providing access to the NFC chip's advanced proprietary features. "Along with our Wave-Me services platform for carriers and third-party service providers, Celsius for Wave-Me will be a key component of the NFC ecosystem, providing a platform NFC application developers can use to efficiently address the diversity of handsets on the market today and in the future," said Loic Hamon, VP of marketing for Inside Contactless' NFC business line, in a prepared statement. Celsius for Wave-Me enables developers to use its patented Parametric Development feature to automatically adapt their source code at compilation time to create applications that, according to Inside Contactless, can read either QR Code (visual 2-D bar code tags) or traditional NFC tags, depending on the capabilities of the target handset. A beta-release Celsius NFC for Wave-me for selected partners is expected to be available in the first quarter of 2010. The Celsius for Wave-Me license will be free for the development stage of any project, and will be updated to include new NFC phones and additional NFC stickers and add-ons as they become available.

Inside Contactless has also announced that it is providing RFID infrastructure components to Taggo, a membership card aggregator, to enable a service Taggo expects to launch in Singapore and in other parts of southeast Asia. The service will include RFID stickers leveraging Inside Contactless' PicoPass 2KS RFID chip, as well as RFID readers based on the company's M210-2G proximity coupler. Inside Contactless is also providing integration and adoption services. Taggo's platform-as-a-service model, Inside Contactless reports, will let companies that provide customer-relationship management (CRM) systems and services offer retailers the ability to add their card programs to the Taggo system, with little or no capital expenditure. Shoppers can add a small PicoPass-based Taggo sticker to their mobile phone and join programs through a simple SMS text message, or by browsing Taggo's Web site, and all enrollment details are automatically sent to the retailer as if the customer had filled out an enrollment form. Customers can tap their phones at the point of sale to enjoy the same benefits as when presenting a plastic card. CRM suppliers can integrate Taggo into their systems and offer the Taggo service as value-added resellers (VARs). Taggo's first VARs currently serve retailers in countries across the region, including Singapore, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand. The service is designed to let customers subscribe to as many loyalty and customer subscription programs as they want, using only one sticker on their mobile phone. According to Aneace Haddad, Taggo's CEO and founder, the fundamental problem with current membership programs is that people don't want to carry multiple cards. "By adding mobile tap-and-go convenience and one-step enrollment to membership card programs in a very simple and cost-effective way," Haddad said in a prepared statement, "Taggo presents a very compelling value proposition to consumers and retailers: no more fat wallets." The initial Taggo deployment is expected to begin in Singapore in time for the holiday shopping season, with full rollout of the service scheduled for early next year.

ABI Research Sees Bright Spots in RFID Market
Despite the economic crisis that has put a damper on technology across the board, market research firm ABI Research reports that RFID technology sales are strong for retail apparel and asset-management applications, and for applications that use active RFID tags. These three sectors are expected to outpace RFID's overall market growth, according to ABI's RFID Annual Market Overview report. "All three of these RFID application and technology areas have shown strong growth, and today account for 9.3 percent of the total RFID market, with combined revenues of more than half a billion dollars," said Michael Liard, ABI's RFID practice director, in a prepared statement. "We expect the trend to continue in 2010 and beyond: apparel, asset management and active RFID should show a 12.7 percent combined compound annual growth rate through 2014, outpacing the overall RFID market growth. This is considered strong growth, given the level of maturity of many RFID-based asset-management applications." Adoption of item-level RFID in the fashion apparel market is graduating from pilot testing to full-scale deployment, and according to ABI Research, many retailers are now in various stages of implementation. The use of RFID for asset tracking and management, the firm notes, shows particular applicability to work-in-process tracking, including spare parts and tools; returnable transport items (RTIs); IT asset management; medical assets; rental item management (for example, library books, media and laundry); and yard management. Finally, active RFID solutions, including real-time location systems (RTLS), are expected to experience solid growth in a number of vertical industries, such as health care, manufacturing, aerospace and defense, transportation, and commercial services, in support of asset tagging, people tracking and other applications.

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