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RFID News Roundup

N.Z. government gives go-ahead on animal ID program; Free Alliance intros personnel active RFID tag with slot for passive card; Colombian logistics firm uses SaviTrak to track shipments; Terso Solutions opens branch in Germany; MyDealerLot adds two new information displays to RTLS solution; Carrefour selects EMV-based contactless payment solution for French hypermarkets.
Feb 11, 2010The following are news announcements made during the past week.

N.Z. Government Gives Go-Ahead on Animal ID Program
The New Zealand government has approved the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) program, as well as the funding necessary to build and operate the new system. The government also plans to draw up legislation to make animal identification and tracking compulsory for cattle and deer farmers. The project launched more than five years ago, and the government has already provided some funding. In June 2008, it committed more than NZ$23 million (valued at US$17.5 million at that time) to the country's Agriculture and Forestry Ministry (see New Zealand's National Cattle ID Project Gets $23 Million). There have already been several trials. The initiative leverages low-frequency (LF) tags encoded with unique identification numbers and complying with the ISO 11874 and 11875 standards, used to identify and track deer and cattle. The ID numbers will be correlated in a database with information regarding each animal, and farmers will also be mandated to record all animal details on the database, as well as notify the government of all animal movements. "NAIT is about future-proofing New Zealand agriculture," said Agriculture Minister David Carter in a prepared statement. "The government is satisfied that there is a strong business case for the scheme, and that its benefits far outweigh its costs." It is expected that NAIT will become compulsory for cattle farmers starting in October 2011, and for deer farmers a year later.

Free Alliance Intros Personnel Active RFID Tag With Slot for Passive Card
Free Alliance, an RFID company based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, has introduced a new 2.4 GHz active tag that also has a built-in slot to hold a passive RFID card. The active tag does not have a passive built-in card reader, but merely holds the passive card. By adding passive RFID to the active tag, says Fairuz Mohd Azrul, the firm's CEO, companies will be able to leverage their existing passive card investments and/or infrastructures, and apply active RFID to enhance their operations, all while using one personnel card. The nuRF tag, designed for use as a personnel ID card, also incorporates a distress button, an LED and a piezoelectric audio feedback device. The new active personnel tag can support any passive RFID card that has a maximum thickness of 1.3 millimeter (0.05 inch), the company reports. The tag leverages a proprietary protocol for active RF communication, Azrul says, noting that Free Alliance decided to use its custom protocol in order to provide higher-capacity device handling (tens of thousands of tag detections per second), and better security (it supports AES 128bit). "We are considering to embed the ISO 24730 [RTLS] standard into our communication protocol for ease of integration to other systems this year," Azrul states. In testing, the company was able to achieve bi-directional RF communication between the nuRF tag and a reader from a range of 150 meters(492 feet). The tag is also RTLS-ready, and is supported by Free Alliance's nuRF Locate triangulation algorithm, enabling users to determine the tag's whereabouts with an accuracy of 1 to 3 meters (3.3 to 9.9 feet). This combination allows users to maintain existing passive card investments or infrastructures, and to apply active RFID to enhance operations. The tag is currently available in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea and Europe. Pricing starts at $39, depending on the built-in features, and volume pricing is available to systems integrators. In addition, the company offers complete hardware and software solutions consisting of tags, enterprise readers, handheld interrogators and enterprise software. The nuRF Tag series offers bi-directional RF communication, anti-tamper capability and various programmable features, and one version of the nuRF tag has built-in motion and temperature sensors. The enterprise-level nuRF Point (access reader) comes with Power-over-Ethernet (POE), USB and RS232 connectivity options. For users with mobile workforce and handheld-type applications, Free Alliance also offers a mini USB-enabled reader. The new active personnel tag works with all Free Alliance products.

Colombian Logistics Firm Uses SaviTrak to Track Shipments
Integrated Control and Logistics Services (ICLS), a Colombia-based provider of logistics and security services for importers and exporters, has signed a five-year contract with Savi Networks for its real-time intelligence service, SaviTrak. ICLS provides logistics to such companies as Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Corona, Cadbury Adams and Honda. According to Savi Networks, the SaviTrak service will enable ICLS to automatically monitor the location, security and condition of customer shipments transported from inland manufacturing locations to coastal ports, as well as cargo transported internationally. ICLS initially began using the Web-hosted service to track pharmaceutical and food product shipments between Cali, Colombia's third-largest city, and the South American country's Port of Buenaventura. "SaviTrak's advanced value-added intelligence will allow us to reduce operational risks and costs while improving service to our customers who manufacture products in a wide range of industries," said Alvaro Mauricio Duran, ICLS' general manager, in a prepared statement. "This unique technology will enable us to serve potential customers from Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador from any company facility to any final destination in the world." ICLS will employ Savi Networks' family of tracking and monitoring battery-powered tags affixed to tens of thousands of cargo containers and shipments. The devices, which contain GPS receivers, communicate the shipments' location, security status and environmental conditions—such as temperature, humidity and shock—to the SaviTrak intelligence service, via a wireless cellular infrastructure. Other SaviTrak customers include Coscon Logistics, which is using the system to track the location and status of product-filled containers as they pass from China to destinations throughout the world (see Coscon's Customers Use Tags to Monitor Cargo), as well as olive product producer Transmed Foods and logistics provider Grupo Hemas (see GPRS-GPS Tags Help Shippers Fight Theft, Reduce Costs).

Terso Solutions Opens Branch in Germany
Madison, Wis.-based Terso Solutions, a provider of RFID cabinets, freezers and refrigerators for managing item-level inventory of high-value products, has launched a new division in Germany. Terso GmbH, based in Mannheim, Germany, was opened in response to an increasing demand for RFID units in Europe, the company reports. The German division, which is expected to be fully functioning by April 1, 2010, will assemble RFID-enabled refrigerators, freezers and cabinets, as well as provide technical and customer support for the European market in a variety of industries, including health care, life sciences and security. Joe Pleshek, Terso Solutions' president and CEO, has assumed CEO duties of Terso GmbH as well. "Establishing Terso assembly and technical services capabilities in Europe illustrates our long-term commitment to meeting the needs of our clients on a global basis," Pleshek said in a prepared statement. "With the new production facility in Germany, we're able to deliver our products sooner to our European customers and eliminate unnecessary transportation, which helps our worldwide sustainability efforts."

MyDealerLot Adds Two New Information Displays to RTLS Solution
MyDealerLot, which provides real-time location systems (RTLS) to car dealers so they can pinpoint the locations of specific vehicles on their lots, has added two new information displays to its system. The displays leverage the RFID data culled from MyDealerLot's RTLS. MyDealerLot's Customer Lounge Display is a real-time information display designed to provide automated updates about vehicles for clients waiting in the company's customer lounge. The new display shows each customer, and the status of his or her car. For example, the display can show that a customer's car has arrived in the work bay, or that it's ready for pick-up. The display includes an advisor message-management function that enables employees to send messages to anyone in the lounge, as well as dealer-controlled advertisement banners, promotional video feeds and a scrolling Associated Press news feed. MyDealerLot has also introduced its Enhanced Arrival Display, which shows the names and photographs of arriving customers, along with information about the vehicles they drive. The display can be leveraged as a workflow tool. Both displays are available now. MyDealerLot's RTLS can leverage a variety of RFID solutions, including RTLS active RFID tags such as AeroScout's active T2 tags (see Atlanta Mercedes Dealership to Adopt RFID at New Location) or 915 MHz passive tags complying with the ISO 18000-6C standard (see RFID Delivers Personal Service for Atlanta Car Dealer).

Carrefour Selects EMV-based Contactless Payment Solution for French Hypermarkets
European retailer Carrefour plans to deploy Hypercom's Wynid server-based payment solution and more than 12,000 PIN pads with contactless readers that support the EMV standard (EMV comes from the initial letters of Europay, MasterCard and Visa—the three companies that originally cooperated to develop the standard) at 210 of its French hypermarkets, as well as at all of Carrefour's petrol stations in France. The multimillion-dollar agreement is believed to represent one of the world's largest deployments of EMV contactless readers, the two companies report, and represents a significant expansion to Hypercom's existing business with Carrefour. The retailer already uses Hypercom's Wynid secure-payment solution at 15,000 cash registers at its Market, City and Contact stores. Country-wide deployment of the solution began in October 2009.
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