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RFID News Roundup

RFID Inc. intros smart multi-function HF reader; TagMaster wins Commonwealth Games 2010 project; Motorcycling South Australia opts for race-timing solution from Alien and Kwikscore; Confidex secures €5 million in investments and loans; ClearCount receives FDA clearance for handheld reader in RFID-enabled surgical system; DSI announces connectivity between RFID, mobile devices and enterprise apps.
Feb 04, 2010The following are news announcements made during the past week.

RFID Inc. Intros Smart Multi-Function HF Reader
RFID hardware provider RFID Inc., based in Aurora, Colo., has introduced a smart multi-function high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz RFID interrogator that supports the ISO 15693 and 14443 A/B standards. According to the company, the HF-3020 13.56 MHz reader can read the unique ID (UID) encoded in an RFID tag's chip, enabling it to recognize the type and manufacturer of that chip, as well as the amount of memory and how that memory is organized. That data is then processed in the reader's software, which is designed to understand that particular chip's memory. If another tag containing a different ISO chip is presented to the interrogator, the device is capable of exiting its current memory-mapping routine and entering a new one. "Not all of the chips' memory is the same size, or organized in the same fashion, even though they support the ISO standards," explains James Heurich, RFID Inc.'s president. "The nice thing about the ISO standards is the chip's ID specifies the manufacturer." Since the HF-3020 works with all 13.56 MHz chips that support the ISO 15693 and ISO 14443 A/B standards, it can be used with a variety of tags. "Quite often, what happens is, if a client purchases a reader and tags from, for example, Texas Instruments, and then goes and buys different tags that do support the standard, they still may not work with the reader already installed," Heurich says. "This reader is functional across the board with all the different ISO tags." The HF-3020 is available now.

TagMaster Wins Commonwealth Games 2010 Project
TagMaster, a Swedish manufacturer of RFID solutions for rail and transportation applications, has announced it has received an order for a vehicle access-control system, to be used at the Commonwealth Games 2010, which will be held in New Delhi, India, from Oct. 3 to Oct. 14, 2010. The system will control the access of vehicles to and from the arenas, as well as other sites in the Delhi area related to the Commonwealth Games, for security and protection purposes. The value of the order exceeds 5 million Swedish kroner ($677,000), and will be delivered during the first half of this year. TagMaster's distributor, an Indian division of Pepperl-Fuchs, will assist in the implementation, which India's government will oversee. The installation will leverage TagMaster's 2.45 GHz long-range readers—with ranges of up to 5 meters (16.4 feet)— and battery-powered 2.45 GHz RFID tags to authenticate and control the access of busses and other vehicles passing in and out of a number of sites in and around New Delhi during the sports event. This will be the 14th time the Commonwealth Games—which began in 1930—have been held. The event was last held in Melbourne, Australia, in 2006, and was attended by approximately 4,500 athletes representing 71 nations, and competing in 16 sports and 24 disciplines.

Motorcycling South Australia Opts for Race-Timing Solution From Alien and Kwikscore
Alien Technology, a provider of ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID solutions, has announced that its UHF EPC Gen 2 RFID products and services, along with Kwikscore, an RFID-enabled race-timing system developed by Adam Hardin, have been chosen by South Australia's motorcycle controlling body, Motorcycling South Australia (MSA), as the timing system of choice for the South Australian Off-Road Championship Series. The solution leverages Alien's high-sensitivity Higgs-3 RFID chips, embedded within its Squiggle tags, as well as its ALR-9900 Enterprise category readers. "The series requires multiple timing points, sometimes several kilometers apart and often without mains power," Hardin said in a prepared statement. "It was designed to be mobile and deployable with highly reliable motorbike detection at race speeds, even amidst exposure to the outdoor elements. It has taken years of development in actual race conditions to optimize system parameters and produce an all-weather solution." Race-timing solutions that use passive UHF RFID tags are gaining popularity, and in the past few years, several companies have begun offering them (see Zoomius Takes Motorsports Timing on a New Course).

Confidex Secures €5 Million in Investments and Loans
Finnish tag manufacturer Confidex has announced it has received investments and loans worth €5 million ($6.9 million). State-owned equity firm Finnish Industry Investment Ltd., private equity firm Aura Capital and previous Confidex owners have invested a total of €2.7 million ($3.7 million), with an additional €2.3 million ($3.2 million) loan was granted by Finnvera and Sampo Bank. "Our revenue tripled in 2009," said Confidex's CEO, Timo Lindström, in a prepared statement. "The new funding will be put towards increasing our production capacity, enhancing our brand and developing new business areas. At the moment, we are developing, for example, wireless sensor solutions based on the Dash-7 standard. We are opening a new, bigger production facility in Guangzhou, China, on the 5th of February, as the old facilities are no longer big enough." Confidex, founded in 2005, has 90 employees and reported a turnover exceeding €10 million ($13.8 million) in 2009.

ClearCount Receives FDA Clearance for Handheld Reader in RFID-enabled Surgical System
ClearCount Medical Solutions, a Pittsburgh-based company focused on improving surgical safety, has announced it has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its SmartWand-DTX handheld device, an RFID-enabled tool that can be used to find surgical sponges embedded with RFID chips if they've been inadvertently left inside a patient during surgery. During the 510(k) process, the FDA determines whether a device is equivalent to an instrument previously cleared by the FDA, or marketed before 1976. The 510(k) submitter explains the similarity between the new device being submitted for clearance and any previously approved tools it may replace, outlining why any differences between them should be acceptable. Having received 510(k) clearance, ClearCount can now market and commercially distribute its SmartWand-DTX system in the United States. The company had previously received 501(k) clearance for its RFID-enabled sponges, called SmartSponges, in 2007 (see RFID-enabled Surgical Sponges a Step Closer to OR). ClearCount's system leverages Texas Instruments' Tag-it HF-I passive 13.56 MHz RFID tags, which support the ISO 15693 and 18000-3 standards. In addition to the SmartWand-DTX handheld reader, the firm's SmartSponge system can be configured with a built-in RFID interrogator that, at the start of an operation, records the number of tagged sponges in pre-packs as workers set them on a tray fitted with an interrogator antenna. After an operation, used sponges are then discarded into a bucket, also fitted with an interrogator antenna, to record the number of sponges that are discarded. A small LCD screen displays the counts, confirming whether there's a match. The SmartWand-DTX enables surgical teams to scan a patient during postoperative safety checks, and to locate any sponges mistakenly left behind. ClearCount has also announced that it has redesigned its SmartSponge system so that hospitals can use the SmartWand-DTX, with the RFID-enabled sponges, as a stand-alone, less expensive system, or invest in the fixed reader, console and sponges for a more comprehensive system. "This clearance to market is a significant milestone for our customers, employees and investors," said ClearCount's CEO, David Palmer, in a prepared statement. "We are commercializing a detection system that offers broad advantages over current offerings. SmartWand-DTX, in addition to our award-winning SmartSponge System, for the first time provides hospitals a choice of devices to best address the unique conditions of each O.R."

DSI Announces Connectivity Between RFID, Mobile Devices and Enterprise Apps
Data Systems International (DSI), a provider of software, hardware and service for enterprise mobility solutions, has announced its dcLINK 6, a Web-enabled connectivity platform for integrating bar codes, EPC Gen 2 RFID tags, readers and encoders, and voice technologies with enterprise applications. The new version, known as dcLINK 6, extends the platform to Web-enabled devices, including smart phones and browser-enabled mobile computers, thus enabling users of those devices to access the collected information (such as RFID tag data culled by readers) and enterprise applications from their smart phones or other devices. The software comes with prebuilt, automated business processes, as well as tools to create tailored processes that can run on rugged data-collection devices, smart phones or other browser-capable devices. It also includes interfaces to a number of enterprise applications, including Oracle's E-Business Suite, JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, JD Edwards World and PeopleSoft Enterprise, as well as applications from SAP and Lawson. "Managers, salespeople and other business professionals no longer have to make decisions based on yesterday's reports, and no longer have to track down operations staff for status updates," said Alec Caldwell, DSI's product manager, in a prepared statement. "With dcLINK 6, up-to-date, accurate performance indicators about inventory levels, work-in-process, delivery status and other essential business information are as close as their smart phone."
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