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RFID News Roundup

LabID introduces two new UHF RFID inlays; AeroScout, Extension team up on health-care RTLS-VoIP solution; Aviant Systems builds cellular RFID solution for RecycleBank; CenTrak announces new Hand Hygiene Compliance System; UPM Raflatac, Hansaprint unveil NFC label for metal, upgrade portal service; Nokia cancels SWP NFC phone, China Unicom moves ahead with SWP NFC payment initiative.
Feb 25, 2010The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Lab ID Introduces Two New UHF RFID Inlays
Italian RFID manufacturer Lab ID has announced two new ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 inlays designed for applications that require small tags, such as jewelry and apparel. Both inlays have a read range of greater than 2 meters (6.6 feet), according to the company, and are designed to work in high-density tag environments and support integrated circuits (ICs) from both Impinj and NXP Semiconductors. The UH600 measures 10 millimeters by 30 millimeters (0.4 inch to 1.2 inches) and is ideal for jewelry, the company reports, while the UH620 measures 22 millimeters by 40 millimeters (0.9 inch by 1.6 inches), and is appropriate for a wider variety of applications, from apparel tagging to item-level logistics. "The introduction of the new UHF inlays is a clear confirmation of our constant and everyday commitment to offer the best solution and top-quality products," said Lab ID's managing director, Francesco Pirola, in a prepared statement. "Starting 2010 with new ideas and enriching our product range is an important message, demonstrating that Lab ID is further developing and improving its offerings in order to be able to face new requirements and future challenges."

AeroScout, Extension Team Up on Health-care RTLS-VoIP Solution
Real-time location system (RTLS) provider AeroScout has partnered with Extension on a health-care RTLS that includes voice-over-IP (VoIP) capability. Extension, based in Fort Wayne, Ind., is the developer of the Extension Solution Suite (ESS) software, which leverages Cisco's Unified Communications technology into a clinical workflow tool, automating notifications using text messages, phone calls and e-mail, as well as turning Cisco's IP Phones into user interfaces for clinical, administrative and revenue cycle data. The combination of Extension's VoIP alerting and messaging functions with AeroScout's RTLS will add support for the HL7 standards—standards for electronic interchange of clinical, financial and administrative information among health-care-oriented computer systems—so that AeroScout alerts can be HL7-enabled, and will allow an AeroScout RTLS to transmit alerts via text-to-speech phone calls. In addition, the collaboration will provide hospitals with alert-management capabilities, such as the ability to escalate certain alerts, and location-enabled alerts. "Adding Extension-enhanced messaging to our alerts delivers even more value to customers from our temperature-monitoring, asset-tracking and patient-flow solutions," said Scott Phillips, AeroScout's director of product architecture, in a prepared statement. "We can now offer text-to-speech, priority alerts and queuing to our health-care customers. Working with Extension, we are able to help doctors, nurses and other hospital staff increase efficiencies and minimize the time wasted on coordination." Both AeroScout's and Extension's solutions leverage a health-care organization's existing Wi-Fi infrastructure.

Aviant Systems Builds Cellular RFID Solution for RecycleBank
RFID systems integrator Aviant Systems has developed an RFID solution that can be affixed to recycling trucks to automatically collect RFID data and then transmit it over a cellular network. The on-board system was built for RecycleBank, which provides recycling services that leverage radio frequency identification and other technologies to identify and weigh trash bins containing recyclable materials as they are lifted into a truck, while also recording whose recyclables are being weighed. The goal of tracking weights and linking them to individual customers is to encourage recycling by rewarding those customers with coupons and other incentives, based on the amount of recycling they performed (see RFID Helps Reward Consumers for Recycling). Aviant built the on-board solution to collect data using RFID at each pick-up location, and to transmit that information to a data-processing center at regular intervals throughout the day. Each on-board system incorporates a low-frequency (LF) interrogator and antenna from Texas Instruments and an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) reader and antenna from Feig, as well as a GPS unit. Data is transmitted via GPRS over the T-Mobile network. RecycleBank has been utilizing Wi-Fi connectivity at truck depots to upload RFID data collected by the trucks. But Aviant's president, Henry Bonnell, says RecycleBank is moving away from Wi-Fi "because of all of the issues related to keeping Wi-Fi running in the field. GPRS is a much easier solution for them to implement and gives them more operational freedom because the trucks don't need to be at the depot to upload the data." What's more, with GPRS, the trucks can be located at any time using their GPS coordinates. Bonnell notes that his company wanted a solution with LF and UHF RFID interrogators because RecycleBank needed to accommodate both frequencies since some municipalities have deployed a mix of LF and UHF tags. "We offered this solution to them," he explains, "because the industry is moving toward UHF, but there are many towns with investments in LF tags that need to expand their coverage. With one box, we offer RecycleBank the opportunity to only stock only one system that can do both." Aviant's on-board solution captures GPS data, time stamps and ID data, and sends that information hourly (and, if desired, more or less frequently) to the Aviant data server. According to Bonnell, RecycleBank retrieves the data throughout the day and populates its database with that information, displaying that data to its customer via the RecycleBank Web site. If an error occurs with the on-board solution, Aviant can download a new application and/or initialization file directly to the remote unit. If the system needs to be rebooted, the driver can simply turn off and restart the truck. There is no keyboard, mouse or monitor on-board that could complicate the diagnostic process, Bonnell says. The Aviant solution is currently not integrated with a truck's onboard weight-scale system. "The solution averages the end-of-day-weight of the recyclables [captured at the scale house] across all participants for that day," he explains. Aviant plans to add weight-scale support and the ability to scan bar codes. Both capabilities are expected by the third quarter of 2010. "RecycleBank expects this solution to better fit into the budgetary constraints of our municipalities, while improving collection and routing efficiencies," said Scott Lamb, RecycleBank's COO, in a prepared statement. RecycleBank is currently operating in more than 300 U.S. cities in 26 states, the company reports, as well as in the United Kingdom.

CenTrak Announces New Hand Hygiene Compliance System
Real-time location system (RTLS) provider CenTrak has announced its Hand Hygiene Compliance System, which can be used in conjunction with the firm's InTouchCare RTLS. The InTouchCare system employs infrared transmitters and sensors to determine the room-level location of its 900 MHz RFID tags. CenTrak's Hand Hygiene Compliance System is designed to automatically capture compliance to an organization's hand-washing requirements. It can be deployed on a standalone basis, the company indicates, or in conjunction with CenTrak's full RTLS. Battery-powered Dispenser Monitors can be mounted to any dispenser, canister, pump or sink to track usage, and the system automatically captures a specific caregiver's RFID-enabled badge ID number, and entry to and exit from patient-care areas, along with hand-hygiene events, based upon hospital-determined compliance business rules. The Dispenser Monitor communicates each event to the network, and also records each caregiver's compliance performance. All of the recorded data is then stored on CenTrak's local or hosted server, and can be accessed by compliance-management and -reporting solutions. Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center (WFUBMC) recently implemented a hand-hygiene compliance-tracking application that employs CenTrak's RTLS and Patient Care Technology Systems' Amelior Tracker software (see Wake Forest Med Center Launches Vaccine-Tracking RTLS). Other solutions designed to monitor hand-washing in health-care organizations are being implemented or are available, including a system from Versus Technology and RTLS provider Dynamic Computer Corp. (see Patient-Safety Center Tests RFID-enabled Hand Sanitizers), and a system from Resurgent Health and Medical (see RFID Debuts as Hand-Washing Compliance Officer).

UPM Raflatac, Hansaprint Unveil NFC Label for Metal, Upgrade Portal Service
RFID tag and inlay manufacturer UPM Raflatac and Finnish printing and service company Hansaprint have announced upgrades to their TagAge Web site, which allows customers to create and purchase print products integrated with Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID inlays. First announced in September 2009, TagAge provides printed paper or plastic labels, stickers, cards, hangtags and posters with embedded NFC tags to customers worldwide, through online orders, and enables users to order thousands of printed NFC-enabled items, or just a few, customized the way they see fit (see Web Portal Offers NFC-enabled Media on Demand). According to UPM Raflatac and Hansaprint, the Web site is easier to use and offers a greater variety of products. In addition, the companies indicate, customers now have the option of purchasing the new "Label-on-metal," an NFC-enabled label that is designed to be attached to metallic surfaces and is only slightly thicker than a normal label. "Improvements to our Web service and product offering are the logical evolution of ongoing market altering work," said Jukka Saariluoma, Hansaprint's development director, in a prepared statement. "We believe we now have the structure and a fantastic start to harness the imagination of users within the NFC market. TagAge's focus on small- and medium-volume customization will help create new application opportunities and markets."

Nokia Cancels SWP NFC Phone, While China Unicom Moves Ahead With SWP NFC Payment Initiative
Nokia is postponing its plans to produce single-wire protocol (SWP) Near Field Communication (NFC) phones, according to a story reported by Near Field Communications World. In the article, Nokia indicated that it scrapped its plans to move its 6216 Classic NFC phone into production because it was concerned about the timing and availability of other elements required to make NFC a market success, and because it felt the quality of the consumer experience was not what it needed to be. Nokia told NFC World, however, that it remains committed to NFC technology. SWP specifies the interface between the Universal Integrated Circuit Card (UICC), or SIM card, and the NFC chip embedded within the handset, and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has endorsed the SWP standard. In late 2008, the GSM Association (GSMA), an organization comprising licensed GSM mobile network operators and the technology vendors that serve them, called on cell phone manufacturers to include, by the middle of 2009, an NFC chip with an SWP and a SIM chip in all of the handsets they produce (see GSM Association Calls for NFC-Enabled Cell Phones). In May 2009, NXP Semiconductors announced an NFC chip, the NXP PN544, that it says is fully compliant with all released NFC specifications on the SWP connection with SIM and the host controller interface (see NXP Unveils NFC Chip for Mobile Phones). Nokia's 6216 was announced in April of last year, and was to be the company's first phone based on the SWP. Now, according to the Near Field Communications World article, Nokia says it has no set date for the commercial arrival of a Nokia SWP phone. Nokia did not respond to RFID Journal's inquiries by press time. Meanwhile, NFC World also reported that China Unicom and some Chinese banks have announced plans to launch payment services with financial institutions that use the SWP standard in the second quarter of this year, and to establish a working group to support handset vendors' development of NFC phones in order to address the shortage of NFC phones (see China Unicom to Launch World's First Commercial Single-Wire Protocol Based NFC Service).
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