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RFID News Roundup

Conair, USA ID Orders Millions of RFID tags From Invengo; GuardRFID announces upgraded RFID middleware for active RTLS; ThingMagic intros new compact RFID UHF reader module; CommerceWorx unveils solution for integrating EDI and RFID; Precyse Technologies releases new bidirectional, long-range RTLS products; A.C.C. Systems' two new handheld RFID readers.
Apr 22, 2010The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Conair, USA ID Orders Millions of RFID tags From Invengo
RFID equipment manufacturer Invengo Technology announced it has signed a contract to design and manufacture EPC Gen 2 passive RFID inlays and labels for RFID supplier USA ID. USA ID, based in East Windsor, N.J., is a subsidiary of Conair Corp., a developer, manufacturer and marketer of health and beauty products and kitchen and electronic appliances. Conair has been using USA ID's RFID products for several years on its own line of products—Conair, Cuisinart and Waring Pro—in order to improve visibility and tracking within its supply chain. The current design of the USA ID RFID inlay contains the Impinj Monza 3 chip, but plans and designs are in place to use Impinj's latest generation chip, the Monza 4. The family of Monza 4 chips, announced this past February, offer increased read range, orientation insensitivity, more memory and innovative privacy features than previous Monza tag chip versions (see Impinj Launches New High-Performance RFID Chips). Invengo is developing the new inlays, with USA ID providing the outline designs. The labels will be manufactured at Invengo's headquarters in Shenzhen, China, where they will then be distributed around the world, the companies say. Under terms of the deal, Invengo will supply a minimum of 20 million labels a year, and the contract is open-ended. USA ID offers, and will continue to offer, RFID inlays and tags for general sale to other suppliers, manufacturers and retailers worldwide. Along with the newly designed labels for item level/unit box, case and pallet (which also will be offered to others), USA ID and Invengo plan to launch tags designed for additional applications, such as apparel tracking. "Conair has always viewed the use of RFID as a key technology, which is set to bring major cost savings and security benefits to the logistics and inventory tracking processes," John Mayorek, president of USA ID, said in a prepared statement. "Although USA ID is more than capable to manufacture its own RFID products, we still felt that it would be prudent to work alongside an established global RFID manufacturer such as Invengo." The deal was announced at RFID Journal LIVE! 2010 held in Orlando, Fla. Apr. 14-16.

GuardRFID Announces Upgraded RFID Middleware for Active RTLS
Vancouver, Canada-based GuardRFID Solutions, a developer of active RFID solutions, has announced a new version of its real-time locating system (RTLS) middleware engine—Argus 2.0. The updated Argus platform, unveiled last week at RFID Journal LIVE! 2010 in Orlando, Fla., adds more management features designed to increase end-user control for industrial, enterprise and healthcare applications, according to the company. The software is designed to continually receive tag data from readers, such as the tag's unique ID, status, and location, and that tag data is then stored in the software's built-in SQL database. The information can be shared with various applications, via links developed using application programming interfaces (APIs) as part of a software development kit (SDK) that GuardRFID makes available to customers such as systems integrators, according to Zahir Abji, president and CEO of GuardRFID Solutions. Argus 2.0 also works with RFID-enabled applications from GuardRFID such as the AllGuard RTLS and Security, TotGuard Infant Security and SafeGuard Patient Protection systems. Argus 2.0 is designed to work with active RFID tags and readers, and specifically with GuardRFID's active tags, which transmit at 433 MHz and leverage a proprietary protocol. But Abji says Argus can receive data from passive RFID tags, other active tags and also bar-code scanners. The new Argus 2.0 version features greater control over acquired tag data, and algorithms that provide better fault tolerance for external interfaces that have stability or reliability problems. Additionally, the Argus 2.0 comes with fully integrated interfaces for industry-standard access control systems and all major CCTV systems. Argus 2.0 is available now for $7,899.

ThingMagic Intros New Compact RFID UHF Reader Module
ThingMagic has introduced a new ultra-high frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 RFID embedded reader module, the Mercury6e (M6e). The module was introduced at last week's RFID Journal LIVE! 2010. The M6e is a small 1-watt, four-port module designed for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), value-added resellers (VARs), and solution providers looking to add RFID to existing product lines, or designing and building new solutions from the ground up, according to ThingMagic. It delivers RFID tag read rates of up to 400 tags per second and read ranges of more than 30 feet with a 6-dBi antenna. It is based on the Impinj Indy R2000 chip and features built-in thermal management, eliminating the need for a separate heat spreader. It measures 2.7 inches by 1.7 inches by 0.3 inch. The M6e also features multi-protocol support—EPC Gen 2 (ISO 18000-6C) with support for dense reader mode (transmit and receive), ISO 18000-6B, and I-PX—and complies with FCC and ETSI regulations in a single module configuration at 36 dBm EIRP and 33 dBm ERP, respectively. ThingMagic is currently conducting a beta test program for the M6e. This program offers customers and prospects the opportunity to gain early access to the M6e for evaluation and design, while executing a defined test plan, the company says.

CommerceWorx Unveils Solution for Integrating EDI and RFID
CommerceWorx, a provider of electronic data interchange (EDI) solutions for the retail, food, and manufacturing sectors, has announced its Shipping Validation Solution (SVS), a system designed to help companies integrate data culled from RFID readers and antenna portal configurations, as well as EDI and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems for shipping processes. The system was unveiled at last week's RFID Journal LIVE! 2010. Built on GlobeRanger's RFID middleware, SVS performs real-time data comparisons of the information it receives (such as comparing purchase orders against RFID tag reads). For example, as an RFID-tagged shipment passes through an outbound door, an RFID portal reads the tags' unique IDs on the cartons or pallets, and this information is shared with the SVS, which compares the products associated with those tag ID numbers with the products on the purchase orders (which could have been created in an ERP system). If the data matches, the SVS can then trigger an EDI message containing an advance shipment notice (ASN) acknowledging shipment is ready and on its way. If there isn't a match—such as too few or too many tag reads—the SVS can trigger an audible or visual signal to inform an operator of an error in the shipment. "The system is designed to create a 100 percent shipment environment with the main benefit being that an ASN won't go out of the building without being confirmed 100 percent," says Ray Roach, eServices with CommerceWorx. The SVS includes the Tag Generator software (which is designed to combine EDI data with additional ASN data and create the necessary RFID tags), application programming interfaces (APIs) for integration to EDI, ERP, and warehouse management solutions, and an RFID interrogator and antenna. Available now, the solution is $9,995.

Precyse Technologies Releases New Bidirectional, Long-Range RTLS Products
Israeli RFID company Precyse Technologies has announced it is incorporating its wireless technology, N3, into all its product lines. The N3 includes support for wireless sensors, M2M (machine to machine) control and real-time location using a single reader infrastructure with one-mile range, according to Precyse Technologies. The technology was unveiled at last week's RFID Journal LIVE! 2010. The N3 is designed to be frequency agnostic, allowing customers to choose between 433 MHz, 915 MHz, 2.4 GHz or any other custom frequency that maximizes the corporate spectrum use. The N3 also encompasses wireless security features such as time-stamped AES128 encryption with a key (in effect, the "password") that can be changed every day. The time-stamped encryption defends local area networks from denial-of-service, SQL injection and other attacks that unsecure RTLS networks are vulnerable too, according to Precyse Technologies. The company has incorporated N3 into all of its RTLS offerings, which includes wireless sensors, active RFID-based asset tags, wireless infrastructure including interrogators (which Precyse Technologies refers to as base stations) and location beacons, the Asset Tracking server, a middleware server that supports bar-codes and RFID, and integration functionality into ERP systems such as those from SAP. Like Precyse's earlier RTLS technology—iLocate—N3 enables the creation of a real-time locating system (RTLS) by means of bidirectional tags, that is, tags that can both transmit and receive data. The iLocate tags, however, relied on the beacons to communicate with a single RFID interrogator up to 3,000 feet away, thereby avoiding the need to deploy multiple readers (see Precyse Technologies' RFID System Uses Beacons to Extend Reach). The N3 utilizes the physical network layer of the IEEE 802.15.4 air-interface protocol, and Precyse's new interrogators were upgraded to include a GPS internal tracker and are utilizing GPRS or UMTS (3G) cellular, Wi-Fi or Ethernet. N3-based tags range from $38 for a single unit down to $15 per unit in larger volumes. Middleware costs start at $25,000 and up, depending on the number of assets under management. For customers who purchase 2,000 or more tags (which costs $76,000), Precyse Technologies will offer them the N3 infrastructure free of charge, with as many base stations and location beacons as necessary.

A.C.C. Systems' New Handheld RFID Readers
A.C.C. Systems, a RFID hardware provider based in Glen Head, N.Y., has announced two new handheld readers, the ACC870 and the ACC970. The ACC870 reader is an ultra-high frequency (UHF) RFID reader that supports the EPC Gen 2 standard. It runs on the Windows CE .Net operating system, and comes with a color touch screen with signature-capture capability, integrated Wi-Fi, a 2-D bar-code scanner, Bluetooth connectivity, and an internal MicroSD slot. It is available with an optional high-frequency (HF) 13.56 RFID interrogator that supports the ISO 15693, ISO 14443A/B, and Mifare UltraLight protocols. The ACC970 also runs on the Windows CE .Net operating system, and comes with a color touch-screen with signature capture, a 1-D bar-code scanner, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a magnetic-stripe reader, an ICC Smart chip card reader, an integrated printer, and a cradle. It supports HF RFID tags complying with ISO 15693, ISO 14443A/B, and Mifare UltraLight specifications. Both come with a USB data cable, a power supply, a software development kit, a demo program and source code, and a one-year warranty; options available to both include GSM/GPRS support, GPS support, a camera, and a fingerprint reader. Available now, the ACC870 is $2,995, and the ACC970 is $1,775.
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