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RFID News Roundup

Barbecue team uses wireless sensors to monitor meat; Smartrac introduces tiny glass-enclosed RFID tag; Jamison intros space-saving UHF RFID reader strip; Mission Hospital installs RTLS for tracking medical equipment; GAO RFID adds water-resistant LF reader and UHF tag to portfolio.
Apr 29, 2010The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Barbecue Team Uses Wireless Sensors to Monitor Meat
Employees of National Instruments (NI) cooked up a high-tech, wireless sensor system to help monitor meat roasting in pits, and took second place at the 2010 Austin Rodeo barbecue competition, held in March of this year. According to a report posted on NI's Web site by one of its wireless sensor network (WSN) product marketing engineers, the temperature-monitoring system was built on NI's WSN platform to monitor the temperatures of various meats as they cooked, as well as to provide temperature gradient information within the pits. NI's WSN consists of wireless nodes, gateways (which share information with applications for processing, analyzing and presenting the measurement data collected by the nodes) and routers (which extend the communication distance between the end nodes and the gateways). NI's sensor nodes operate for up to three years on 4 AA batteries, and can be deployed for long-term, remote operation. The NI WSN protocol is based on IEEE 802.15.4 and ZigBee standards. The barbecue-monitoring system relied on WSN-3212 thermocouple measurement nodes and WSN-3291 outdoor enclosures, with external antennas to monitor eight temperature channels on each of the two barbecue pits. The temperature data was displayed on a computer monitor, so event-goers could view the meat and pit temperatures. The system also included NI's newly released NI 9792 Programmable WSN Gateway, which incorporated an integrated Web server that published the information to a Web site so those at the fairgrounds could check the meats' status on their Web-enabled smart phones, and be alerted when a fresh round of barbecue was ready for serving.

Smartrac Unveils Tiny Glass-enclosed RFID Tag
Smartrac, an RFID inlay supplier headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, has unveiled a new glass-enclosed low-frequency (LF) transponder for the tagging of mice, fish and other small animals, and for use in access control and other general-industry applications. The SmartMiniGlassTag operates at frequencies of 125 kHz and 134.2 kHz, and complies with the ISO 11784/11785 FDX-B standards. It weighs 70 milligrams (0.002 ounce) and measures 2.12 millimeters (0.08 inch) in diameter and 8.8 millimeters (0.35 inch) in length, which, according to Smartrac, makes it the smallest glass tag that the company has produced and supplied to date. Manufactured from biocompatible glass, the hermetically sealed transponder is characterized by robustness and a high chemical resistance, comes with 512-bit EEPROM storage capacity, and offers security features, such as write and password protection, the company reports. The SmartMiniGlassTag is available now.

Jamison Intros Space-Saving UHF RFID Reader Strip
Jamison Door Co.'s Industrial Portals division, which manufactures RFID housing structures, pedestals, portals, and RFID enclosures and mounting components, has announced its RFID Strip, a compact EPC Gen 2 portal. According to the company, the unit weighs 15 pounds, can be mounted on a wall and plugged into an Ethernet port, and is designed to create multiple read points within a facility in which traditional portals or pedestals are too large to be used. The RFID Strip can be programmed to read EPC Gen 2 RFID tags at a distance of 3 to 6 feet. RFID Strip models contain either a four-port Motorola FX7400 reader or Impinj Revolution RFID interrogator, as well as four short-range RFID antennas, a buzzer/alarm, a motion detector, an LED display, an ABS snap-on cover and mounting hardware. The motion detector conserves power by activating the unit only when movement enters the defined read field. The audible and visual alarms, the firm notes, are important for users that require an immediate alert on items or personnel entering or leaving a specific location. The unit is fully enclosed in an 18-guage powder-coated steel chassis. Jamison RFID sells its products through its distributor, Anixter, and a network of global RFID dealers and systems integrators.

Mission Hospital Installs RTLS for Tracking Medical Equipment
Mission Hospital, a 345-bed facility in Mission Viejo, Calif., has announced it is deploying a real-time location system (RTLS) that includes the Amelior 360° Enterprise Visibility Platform from Patient Care Technology Systems (PCTS), which, when combined with real-time location technology, can be used to track patients, employees and assets in health-care facilities. The platform consists of products for hospital emergency, perioperative, interventional cardiology and diagnostic imaging departments, as well as for facility-wide asset and patient tracking. Amelior works with RTLS systems leveraging RFID, ultrasound, Wi-Fi access points and infrared sensors. PCTS is working with Vixia, a provider of solutions that leverage RFID and other technologies. The solution will include Amelior 360° and Vixia's VixPort information portal (codeveloped by PCTS and Vixia), which will serve as the interface for managing the hospital's movable medical equipment assets, such as sequential compression devices (SCDs), infusion pumps and pulse oximeters. The system will be used to track and manage the distribution of approximately 1,700 pieces of equipment. The RTLS technology chosen is CenTrak's hybrid RFID-infrared RTLS, which employs the company's DualTrak tags that combine infrared technology (to determine a tag's location) and 900 MHz active RFID technology. With the hybrid system, each room's infrared transmitter emits an infrared signal encoded with location data, and that signal is received by all tags within that room. Each tag, in turn, transmits a 900 MHz RF signal encoded with the location data, as well as its own unique ID number, to an RFID interrogator. In addition, PCTS indicates, Mission Hospital's system will be used to automatically monitor temperatures of sensitive items, such as medications and blood bags, and will provide real-time visibility into temperature status, with dynamic watch-lists and configurable real-time notifications of temperature events. This module provides a system capable of monitoring, calibrating and maintaining inventory temperatures, as well as access status in any area or department, in real time. In the future, the company plans to include interfaces between the VixPort information portal and other PCTS software applications, including Amelior EDTracker (for the emergency department), Amelior ORTracker (for the surgery department) and Amelior 360 Hand Hygiene (for monitoring caregivers' hand washing).

GAO RFID Adds Water-Resistant 125 kHz Reader and UHF Tag to Portfolio
GAO RFID has released a passive 125 kHz handheld RFID reader designed for use in such applications as security monitoring, remote equipment inspection management, goods delivery and transportation management. The low-frequency (LF) interrogator, model 221005, uses a proprietary air-interface protocol, and can be connected to a computer via a USB port for data transmission and information management. The device utilizes an LED to indicate that it has identified RFID tags within its vicinity. According to GAO RFID, the handheld reader has an IP67 protection rating, signifying its protection against damage from moisture, dust and vibration, and is able to read tags under water since it is water-resistant. Its 3-volt lithium battery can last up to two years, the company reports, if scanning 200 times per day or less. The new ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag—model 116041, an EPC Gen 2-compliant tag operating in the frequency range of 860 to 960 MHz—is designed for such applications as military asset tracking, cargo and container tracking, transportation and logistics, airline unit load devices, and construction and heavy machinery. It utilizes an Alien Technology Higgs 3 chip, offers read ranges of up to 35 centimeters (13.8 inches), and has a memory capacity of 512 bits.
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