RFID News Roundup
Damco joins Dash7 Alliance; NXP opens RFID application and system center in China; Cubic acquires assets of Impeva Labs; DeviceFidelity announces mobile contactless payment solution for iPhone; Arbor Technology intros rugged tablet PC with HF RFID reader; Avera McKennan expands use of Versus RTLS to surgery center.
May 20, 2010—The following are news announcements made during the past week.
Damco Joins Dash7 Alliance
Damco, the logistics services division of the A.P. Møller-Maersk Group and a provider of supply chain management and freight-forwarding services, has announced that it has joined the Dash7 Alliance, a coalition of organizations promoting the use of RFID solutions compliant with the ISO 18000-7 (Dash7) standard for active 433 MHz tags and readers. Formed in March 2009, the alliance aims to facilitate the adoption of ISO 18000-7 RFID technology, which is currently used primarily in the defense industry (see Dash7 Alliance Forms to Advance Active RFID Standard). As a member of the Dash7 Alliance, Damco will work with more than 40 companies worldwide that are Dash7 members, to advance the development of the ISO 18000-7 standard. Other members consist of RFID equipment manufacturers, systems integrators, developers, regulators, academia and end users, including Dow, Michelin, Northrop Grumman, and the U.S. Departments of Energy and Defense. According to Dash7 Alliance's president, Pat Burns, Damco brings a great deal of expertise in all forms of logistics, but particularly maritime logistics—an area in which the alliance is focusing heavily. "The Container Security and Sensing Initiative is but one example of this," Burns says, "where we are developing a set of updates to the standard that better define the handling of sensor data and implementation of security, all based on other ISO or IEEE standards." Damco will also contribute to some of the alliance's regulatory activities related to worldwide port and border security, he adds. Damco indicates it held off on joining until A.P. Møller-Maersk performed due diligence to ensure the most appropriate business unit was taking the lead in the alliance. "Also, since A.P. Møller-Maersk is involved in many RFID initiatives globally, we had to ensure there were no conflicts of interest by joining the Dash7 Alliance," says Joe Funari, Damco USA's general manager of government services. As a member of the alliance, the company will perform testing on tags as they are developed, on behalf of its customers, to ensure and validate real-world applicability. The alliance will continue to work with MET Laboratories on certification testing for conformance and interoperability, Burns indicates. In April 2010, the organization announced the successful completion of its first round of conformance and interoperability tests for ISO 18000-7 devices. The tests, carried out by MET Labs, resulted in the verification of more than 20 devices from three separate vendors (Dash7 members Evigia Systems, Identec Solutions and Savi Technology), marking an important step in its goal of instituting a Dash7 certification program. The testing procedures were based on the ISO 18047-7 conformance specification, as well as tests developed by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) in support of its RFID III contract (see DOD Tests, Buys New ISO 18000-7 Tags From Four Companies).
NXP Opens RFID Application and System Center in China
NXP Semiconductors has announced the opening of its new facility in Tianjin, China—the RFID Application and System Center (ASC). The facility is designed to provide real-life conditions for evaluating and optimizing RFID applications. According to NXP, the facility is the first of its kind in Asia, and will enable the firm to bolster the technical support it provides to customers in China and throughout that continent. Four years ago, NXP opened a similar center near Graz, Austria (see NXP Debuts Reference Design Center). There is increased interest in RFID in China, the company reports, particularly in research-and-development projects. The new 2,000-square-meter (21,500-square-foot) facility provides label customers, systems integrators and end users with a variety of services: customized antenna design; read-write device optimization; and customized RFID test environments for fashion, medical, logistics, warehousing, industrial production and animal identification application systems. NXP has created a number of experimental environments within the center for different RFID applications, including electronic certificates, secure payments and energy monitoring. The center also offers advanced experimental and test equipment capable of providing label design and label product performance analysis, the company notes.
Cubic Acquires Assets of Impeva Labs
Cubic Corp., the parent company of three RFID businesses—Defense Systems, Mission Support Services and Transportation Systems—has announced that it has acquired the assets of Impeva Labs, a provider of global asset-management and -optimization systems and services. Under the terms of the deal, Cubic has acquired Impeva's contracts, inventory, fixed assets and intellectual property, all of which will become part of a new subsidiary, known as Cubic Global Tracking Solutions. The new subsidiary, Cubic reports, will build upon Impeva's current military and civilian contracts to grow the business globally. Financial details have not been disclosed. Impeva's technology, currently being used by the U.S. Department of Defense for tracking and monitoring its supply chains in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, leverages RFID technologies including mesh networking and wireless sensors, as well as GSM mobile communications and satellite technologies, to provide real-time location of assets worldwide. Impeva unveiled its solution in January 2009 with ARINC, a provider of communications and engineering solutions, as well as systems integration services, to government, defense and commercial organizations (see ARINC, Impeva Unveil Real-Time Supply Chain Tracking Solution). Impeva has approximately 35 employees at its facilities in Mountain View, Calif., Panama City, Fla., and Yerevan, Armenia. Founded in 2004, the company provided technology for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Operation Safe Commerce initiative, and is a subcontractor to ARINC on a five-year, $20 million indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contract to develop advanced solutions for global tracking and RFID, and on the Next Generation Wireless Communications (NGWC) program, which provides mesh network satellite-based global asset visibility for the U.S. Army's logistics personnel. "We intend to leverage the next-generation technology developed by Impeva to become the market leader in global tracking for the Department of Defense, homeland security and commercial markets," said John D. Thomas, Cubic's VP of finance and corporate development, in a prepared statement.
DeviceFidelity Announces Mobile Contactless Payment Solution for iPhone
Dallas, Texas, contactless payment company DeviceFidelity has announced the availability of its In2Pay solution for Apple's iPhone, designed to enable iPhone users to make contactless transactions, such as Visa mobile payments, by simply waving their phone in front of a contactless payment terminal. In2Pay is an RFID module that plugs into a mobile phone's microSD memory card slot and can function as both a Near Field Communication (NFC) passive tag and reader (see MicroSD Card Brings NFC to Phones for Credit Card Companies, Banks). DeviceFidelity developed a protective case into which iPhone users can place the In2Pay microSD module. The users can then attach it to an iPhone (iPhones do not currently have microSD memory card slots), thus turning it into a contactless payment device. Trials are scheduled to begin during the second quarter of 2010, the company reports. "The more than 200,000 apps on the App Store are an integral part of iPhone users' lives," said Amitaabh Malhotra, DeviceFidelity's COO, in a prepared statement. "With our In2Pay solution, we want to give both iPhone users and app developers the power to do even more, by putting the convenience of interactive secure mobile transactions, right at their fingertips, anywhere they are."
Arbor Technology Intros Rugged Tablet PC With HF RFID Reader
Arbor Technology, a Taiwanese provider of embedded and networking computing solutions, has introduced a new rugged RFID-enabled tablet PC designed for a variety of markets, including warehousing, retail, field services, hospitality, industrial automation and more. The Gladius G0710S has an integrated RFID interrogator that can read ISO 15693/14443A/14443B high-frequency (HF) RFID tags at a speed of approximately five card reads per second, with a read range of 3 to 5 centimeters (1.2 to 2 inches). According to the company, the tablet PC measures 36 millimeters (1.4 inches) in thickness and weighs about 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds), making it easy to carry. It can run for up to four hours on batteries, and comes equipped with a 7-inch sunlight-readable touch panel screen. Available now, the Gladius G0710S has an IP54 protection rating, making it dust- and water-resistant, and has also passed vibration, shock and transit drop tests.
Avera McKennan Expands Use of Versus RTLS to Surgery Center
The Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center, in Sioux Falls, S.D., is expanding its use of a real-time location system (RTLS) from Versus Technology to its new Avera Surgery Center, slated to open in July of this year. The center, which encompasses 34,000 square feet of the newly constructed Avera Cancer Institute, is connected to Avera McKennan Hospital via a skywalk, and will focus on ambulatory or same-day general outpatient surgical procedures. The hospital has been using Versus' RTLS since 2003, and now tracks more than 1,500 assets for real-time equipment management. The Versus solution, known as Versus Advantages, also integrates with the hospital's nurse call system, provided by Rauland-Borg, which enables Avera's nurses to automatically register a response to patient calls and report that they are with a particular patient, just by virtue of their presence. According to Versus, the hospital will employ the Versus solution throughout the Avera Surgery Center, including the 28 private patient rooms and eight surgical suites, to provide more efficient patient flow and communication to family members regarding patient status. The RTLS leverages tags that transmit infrared (IR) signals, as well as RFID as a back-up solution, in the event that the IR signal is blocked or not operating properly. When a tag's IR signal, emitted every three seconds, is received by the IR reader within that location, the reader transmits its own ID number, along with that of the tag, to the Versus software. If the tag's IR signal is not being received (if, for example, a blanket is covering the tag and its infrared beacon), the RFID system provides a backup—the tag emits a 433 MHz RFID signal, which also beacons every three seconds, using a proprietary air-interface protocol. The Avera Surgery Center has separate entrances and very specific clinical workflows. Each patient entering this area will be provided with a Versus locating badge. With this badge, employees will be able to identify a patient's location, wait time and status (if they are awaiting the patient's lab results, for example, or whether a surgeon has seen that patient). They'll also be able to identify the length of time that the patient waits at each stage of the process, from registration to discharge. When aggregated across all patients, services and providers, Versus reports, this will help Avera to better understand the intervals of care, scheduling needs and their capacity for additional procedures. Avera also will use the data gathered with Versus Advantages to discreetly communicate patient status to concerned family members in the waiting area. If family members leave the surgery center, they will be given an alpha pager, to which Versus will relay similar patient status information.
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