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RFID News Roundup

Rush Tracking Systems selects Impinj's Speedway reader for RFID-enabled lift trucks; Salto Systems and Skidata team up on RFID technology; researchers develop MEMS-based device for powering wireless sensor nodes; Axway intros new version of Track & Trace, receives EPCglobal certification; Organic Electronics Association publishes roadmap for printed electronics; Austriamicrosystems unveils new reader chip that can be used worldwide.
Dec 17, 2009The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Rush Tracking Systems Selects Impinj's Speedway Reader for RFID-enabled Lift Trucks
Rush Tracking Systems, an RFID systems integrator and solutions provider based in Lenexa, Kan., has announced it has selected Impinj's Speedway Revolution, a new ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 RFID interrogator, for its VisiblEdge RFID solution that involves RFID-enabled forklifts and is designed to enable companies to manage workflows in manufacturing and warehousing operations. Announced in August 2009, the Speedway Revolution can automatically configure itself to adjust to external conditions, such as changes in RFID tag density or the nearby presence of metallic objects (see New Impinj Reader Goes on Autopilot). According to the two companies, Rush Tracking Systems chose the Impinj reader for its compact size—the device measures 6.75 inches by 5.5 inches by 1 inch in height—and because it has a rugged design. The Speedway Revolution recently passed rigorous MIL-STD-810G tests, which certify products for use on industrial vehicles in a wide range of extreme conditions, including vibration and shocks up to 50 Gs. "With this level of testing and certification, our customers feel confident that the Speedway Revolution reader will complement VisiblEdge's reputation as an accurate and reliable inventory tracking solution," said Scott Andersen, Rush Tracking Systems' VP of professional services, in a prepared statement. The interrogator's autopilot feature, the two firms report—which eliminates the need for manual tuning—will be particularly useful for lift-truck applications, which require that an RFID system be able to perform in ever-changing environmental conditions, including RF interference levels, tag density in the reader field and ambient RF noise.

Salto Systems and Skidata Team Up on RFID Technology
Salto Systems, a manufacturer of access-control products, has announced it has recently inked a deal with Skidata, an Austrian provider of access-management and ticketing solutions, to incorporate Skidata's RFID technology into its line of electronic locking systems, which include access-control devices such as key cards and locks, as well as software used to wirelessly manage them all. Skidata's RFID technology leverages high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz passive RFID tags complying with the ISO 15693 standard. According to Salto, its electronic locking and access-control systems are employed by 4,000 costumers, including colleges such as the University of Oxford, corporations such as T-Mobile, hotels and health-care providers. Current customers of Salto's XS4 E9000 Range systems will be able to upgrade their already-installed systems via software upgrades, the company reports. Skidata, in partnership with Resort Technology Partners (RTP), a Colorado-based provider of integrated solutions for resorts, has installed its RFID technology at a number of ski areas, including the Skiing Co., which operates Aspen, Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk and Snowmass (see Aspen Signs With Skidata, RTP for Integrated RFID/POS System). Alpine Meadows, a California ski area, recently installed a similar system as a way to improve guest interaction and operational efficiencies for the 2009/10 season.

Researchers Develop MEMS-based Device for Powering Wireless Sensor Nodes
Researchers at the Holst Centre, a research and development (R&D) initiative focused on developing generic technologies for wireless autonomous transducer solutions, has created a new energy harvester application that can generate up to 85 microwatts of power. The piezoelectric harvesting device was fabricated using micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS)—small silicon chips that can combine mechanical elements, sensors, actuators and electronics. MEMS have been used for several decades in everything from inkjet printers to accelerometers that deploy air bags in cars. The packaged harvester converts vibrations into energy, and then captures and stores that energy so it can be used to power a wireless sensor node. Researchers within the Holst Centre's Micropower Generation and Storage program developed the piezoelectric harvester application to power a temperature sensor that can wirelessly transmit data in a fully autonomous way. The harvester consists of a silicon mass suspended on a beam, with aluminum nitride as piezoelectric material. By changing the dimensions of the beam and mass, the harvester's resonance frequency can be designed for any value in the range of 150 to 1,200 Hz. The wafer package is completed in a three-step process: glass covers are coated with an adhesive, vacuum-bonded on the top and bottom of the processed wafer and then diced. The piezoelectric harvester was connected to a wireless temperature sensor built using commercially available components. The system was able to generate sufficient power to measure the environmental temperature and transmit it to a base station with an interval of fifteen seconds. The result, according to the Holst Centre, proves the feasibility of building fully autonomous harvesters for industrial applications. Ultimately, the group indicates, the technology will be useful in powering sensors in such industrial applications as tire-pressure monitoring and predictive maintenance of moving or rotating machine parts. The researchers presented the details of their work at the IEEE's 2009 International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM), held earlier this month in Baltimore.

Axway Intros New Version of Track & Trace, Receives EPCglobal Certification
Axway, a provider of business-to-business, supply chain, file transfer and other enterprise application solutions, has introduced a new version of its Axway Track & Trace 3.0 software, designed to help companies manage serialized products as they travel through the supply chain. In addition, the company has announced that the new version is now certified by EPCglobal to employ the AS2 communications protocol, thus guaranteeing interoperability and enhanced security for the delivery of GS1 Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) messages. The AS2 standard defines how applications communicate EDI, XML or other business-to-business data over the Internet, and EPCglobal's EPCIS specification (designed to help companies securely exchange RFID and related product data in real time) includes a binding for the EPCIS query interface using AS2. The support of both means a variety of companies will be able to exchange query/response messages. With Axway Track & Trace, trade communities can reduce the opportunity for counterfeiting, diversion and fraud through serialization and authentication, while at the same time complying with various industry regulations. Axway Track & Trace manages serialized events and product lifecycles in an open, GS1 standards-based solution. The solution's components integrate with existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to provide visibility into product lifecycle tracking, as well as help organizations achieve global regulatory compliance, assure the integrity of product data and improve supply chain efficiency. In addition to the EPCglobal certification, Axway Track & Trace 3.0 also includes a new user interface that, according to the company, provides a unified design and single sign-on into an EPCIS event, along with master data management and serial number manager modules—all designed to make the system easier to use. Axway Track & Trace, the company notes, is part of a suite of offerings focused on product serialization, risk management and supply chain visibility, and can be integrated with existing ERP systems.

Organic Electronics Association Publishes Roadmap for Printed Electronics
The Organic Electronics Association, a working group within the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), has published a new white paper, entitled "OE-A Roadmap for Organic and Printed Electronics," that discusses nine organic and printed applications, as well as materials, substrates and pattern processes. The OE-A Roadmap, now in its third edition, is updated and expanded biannually. The new 80-page version includes information regarding organic photovoltaic cells (OPV), flexible displays, electroluminescent and OLED-based lighting, printed RFID, organic memory devices, organic sensors, flexible batteries, smart objects and smart textiles. Printed electronics, for example, is an emerging technology that utilizes standard printing processes to enable low-cost manufacturing of a variety of devices, including RFID tags, flexible displays, batteries and transistors. Many expect that RFID tags made with printed electronics are years away from widespread availability. The OE-A white paper anticipates that 1-to-4-bit-ROM printed RFID tags will hit the market in 2011, with 32- to 64-bit-ROM printed RFID tags becoming available by 2014. Printed RFID tags for high-frequency (HF) EPC-based applications are not expected to be available until 2018, and such tags for ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC-based applications will not be available until 2023. "OE-A Roadmap for Organic and Printed Electronics" can be download for free from VDMA's Web site.

Austriamicrosystems Unveils New Reader Chip That Can Be Used Worldwide
Austriamicrosystems, a designer and manufacturer of analog ICs for communications, industrial, medical and automotive applications, has announced a new UHF RFID reader chip for EPC Gen 2 applications. According to the company, the AS3992 features full support for the ISO18000-6C (EPC Gen 2) standard, ISO18000-6A and B compatibility in direct mode, and full dense reader mode (DRM) compliance on chip, making it a worldwide shippable device. The new reader chip is pin-to-pin compatible with Austriamicrosystems' existing family of AS3990/91 ICs. The AS3992 is available to order now in QFN 64 9-millimeter by 9-millimeter (0.4-inch by 0.4-inch) packages. (QFN stands for Quad Flat No-Lead, which is surface-mount technology that physically and electrically connects integrated circuits to printed circuit boards.)
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