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RFID News Roundup
Nokia pledges all new smart-phone models will come with NFC; Broadcom announces plans to buy Innovision Research & Technology; 1st Choice Security Solutions and AATSI introduce transportation temperature-monitoring system; NFC Forum announces Global Competition 2010 winners; Hi-G-Tek, Navisat Telematics implement electronic tracking for cargo security; Bibliotheca to provide RFID system to 54-library consortium in N.Y.
Jun 24, 2010—The following are news announcements made during the past week.
Nokia Pledges All New Smart-Phone Models Will Come With NFC
Nokia revealed, at the Mobey Forum's 10th-anniversary workshop, recently held in Helsinki, Finland, that beginning in 2011, its portfolio of new smart phones will support Near Field Communication (NFC), according to media reports. A Nokia spokesperson has confirmed to RFID Journal that the company will include NFC support in its global Symbian smart-phone portfolio, but adds that such support may or may not include country variants. "Clearly, NFC is a technology we are actively supporting," he says. While Nokia declines to reveal how many smart phones it plans to launch in 2011, last year the firm launched about a dozen smart phones (the figure would be higher if various regional variants were taken into account). Alongside Nokia's smart phones, the spokesperson indicates, the company will continue to offer a line-up of mobile phones (more affordable models running on the Series 40 software platform, not the Symbian platform) and mobile computers (high-end, high-performance models running on MeeGo).
Broadcom Announces Plans to Buy Innovision Research & Technology
Irvine, Calif.-based Broadcom, a manufacturer of semiconductors for wired and wireless communications, has announced it has made an all-cash offer to acquire all issued and to-be-issued shares of Innovision Research & Technology, a London-based RFID and electronics design firm. Under the offer's terms, agreed to by Innovision's board, the firm's shareholders will receive £0.35 (approximately $0.52) in cash for each Innovision share held, representing a total equity value of approximately $47.5 million, based on current exchange rates. This offer represents an 84.2 percent premium above the closing price of Innovision's common stock on June 17, 2010. Broadcom expects to close the acquisition in the third quarter of 2010. Innovision specializes in Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. This month, the firm announced it had begun offering version 2 of its Gem NFC technology to semiconductor companies that wanted to license the technology to integrate NFC into chipsets for mobile phones and consumer electronics devices. Innovision's Gem technology is semiconductor intellectual property (IP) that allows for NFC reader/writer, peer-to-peer and card/tag emulation functionality (see RFID News Roundup: Innovision Research & Technology Offers Licensing of Next-Gen NFC IP. In a release detailing the offer, Broadcom said it believes the acquisition of Innovision will provide it with important technology and engineering talent to further its leading wireless connectivity business, and that NFC will become increasingly adopted in smart phones and other mobile devices. Broadcom's directors, the company reported, "believe that the acquisition of Innovision will generate shareholder value by accelerating Broadcom's efforts to bring next-generation NFC products to market, allowing Broadcom to offer its customers more mature and feature-rich NFC products sooner."
1st Choice Security Solutions and AATSI Introduce Transportation Temperature-Monitoring System
1st Choice Security Solutions and Advanced Asset Tracking Solutions (AATSI) have teamed up to offer TransTemp, a long-range RFID transportation temperature-monitoring system designed to automate the tracking and recording of the temperatures of goods in transit. The system uses custom software from AATSI, and includes a multi-function communications processor running a Linux operating system, long-range RFID temperature readers, and long-range temperature tags with internal temperature sensors, as well as long-range tags with external temperature probes. The tags and readers, designed and manufactured by 1st Choice, leverage a proprietary air-interface protocol and operate at 433.92 MHz. The company describes its tags as active and its readers as "passive," meaning that the battery-powered tags transmit their unique identification code and temperature data to the readers at pre-determined intervals, and that the readers do not transmit any signals to the tags, but merely receive the tags' transmitted signals, thereby "not generating any RF noise," according to a company spokesperson. The tags can be attached to cartons or pallets of goods in order to monitor various storage temperature requirements during transportation, the company reports, and can be placed into shipping containers, refrigerated containers and trucks, airfreight, catering trucks, and goods delivery. The communications processor enables real-time monitoring of storage temperatures in transportation vehicles in any geographical location, using public mobile network coverage (GSM/CDMA). The TransTemp alarm-handling system logs the alarm duration, as well as the maximum and minimum temperatures if the temperature of any goods being monitored exceeds the food safety standards range. The system can filter temporary fluctuations in temperature above the alarm limits as "uneventful alarms," in order to determine the suitability of a product's quality after an alarm is logged. The logged information can be viewed in real time via AATSI's Web portal, or viewed once the truck or container returns to base and the information is downloaded to an onsite computer. The TransTemp System is available now from both 1st Choice and AATSI.
NFC Forum Announces Global Competition 2010 Winners
The NFC Forum, a nonprofit industry association focused on advancing the use of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, has announced the winners of its NFC Forum Global Competition 2010, aimed at promoting the development and deployment of innovative and exemplary NFC services by both commercial and academic developers. The "commercial track" is for business ideas that address a specific market, business, or consumer need or want, while the "research track" is open to the academic community, including university student teams and institutions. Applicants represented a variety of countries in Asia, Europe and North America, and first-, second- and third-place winners in each track were chosen by a jury comprising senior professionals and recognized experts from academia, members and sponsoring companies. Entries were judged on their innovation, commercial potential and usability, as well as on quality of design and implementation. The three winners in the commercial track were Nexperts' Touch & Pay solution, ITN International's BCARD Reader and NTT Docomo's Wellness Support solution. The Touch & Pay system enables a retailer's customer with an NFC-enabled phone to scan an RFID tag attached to an item within a store, in order to display information about that item, and then add it to a "shopping cart" on the phone (see Swiss Farm Store Tries RFID-enabled Self-Serve Shopping). ITN's BCARD Reader is a dedicated NFC ecosystem designed to manage and enhance the information-exchange process at events, trade shows and exhibitions. NTT Docomo's Wellness Support solution consists of NFC tags embedded into personal health-care devices, enabling convenient and instant data exchange. The first-, second- and third-place winners, respectively, in the research track were PharmaFabula, submitted by the Pontifical University of Salamanca's Innovation Club; Artesis University College Antwerp, for its NFC Learning Environment; and Lancaster University's MyState. PharmaFabula is a solution that leverages an NFC-enabled mobile device to provide object identification for the blind, as well as report medical information from prescriptions, leaflets and other useful information in audio format. The NFC Learning Environment lets teachers tag objects that students can then investigate and explore using NFC readers. MyState enables users to create interactive environments by placing NFC tags on objects, to create individual, personalized applications on Facebook. Winners in each track received cash prizes: first-place received €5,000 ($6,160), second-place €1,500 ($1,850), and third-place €1,000 ($1,230).
Hi-G-Tek, Navisat Telematics Implement Electronic Tracking for Cargo Security
Hi-G-Tek, a developer and manufacturer of active RFID sensing and control solutions for tracking high-value cargo and sensitive materials, and Navisat Telematics, a provider of supply chain management and security solutions, have completed the implementation of an electronic cargo-tracking system (ECTS) for the government of Kenya. With the ECTS in place, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA)—which is responsible for collecting revenue on behalf of the Kenyan government—now requires importers, exporters, clearing agents and transporters to comply with the regulations and install electronic seals. By the end of June 2010, no cargo under Kenya's customs control will be allowed to transit the country without the appropriate tracking devices installed. According to the two companies, the ECTS is one of the most advanced systems of its kind in the world, and the first to be implemented on a nationwide basis in Africa. The system, which leverages Hi-G-Tek's proprietary active RFID seals, is aimed at monitoring the movement of goods along Kenya's main transportation route, particularly between the port at Mombasa and the Busia and Malaba border points. Hi-G-Tek's mobile RFID readers have been installed in the truck cabins, with fixed readers installed at certain checkpoints along the protected route. Implementation of the project, including proof-of-concept work, took approximately one year, and was completed in April 2010.
Bibliotheca to Provide RFID System to 54-Library Consortium in N.Y.
The Automated Library Information System (ALIS), a consortium of 54 autonomous public libraries serving communities in Nassau County, N.Y., has selected Bibliotheca Inc. to provide a range of RFID library solutions for the libraries that comprise ALIS. Bibliotheca was selected to provide RFID hardware, tags and services to upgrade the facilities and support staff of the consortiums' libraries. The goal of the implementation, according to Bibliotheca, is to improve the patron experience through more effective customer services, enhance inventory management and improve collection security. The company offers RFID systems that operate at 13.56 MHz and comply with the ISO 15693 standard. In May 2010, Bibliotheca reports, ALIS made an initial investment in RFID conversion stations, along with 1 million RFID book tags, which will be provided to six libraries taking part in the consortium's RFID pilot installations. The tagging of collections is scheduled to begin in August 2010. Pilot sites will install Bibliotheca patron self-service stations, staff stations and security gates during the fourth quarter of 2010, with these sites slated to be fully transitioned to the new Bibliotheca systems during the first quarter of next year. Upon completion of the pilot installations, other libraries in the consortium will be positioned to move forward with their own Bibliotheca RFID implementations under the ALIS contract, without having to undertake their own individual RFP projects. In addition, Bibliotheca has announced that the main and Madison branches of Alabama's Huntsville-Madison County Public Library recently completed its installation of the firm's RFID solutions, including book labels, Biblio StaffStations, BiblioGate VI security gates and Orion self-check stations. "The Madison library, just one location in the Huntsville-Madison County system, is a busy library that circulates more than 520,000 items a year in a 15,000-square-foot facility," said Sarah Sledge, the library's branch manager, in a prepared statement. "Our building is intended for 32,000 people, and we serve well over 45,000. RFID puts us in a position to serve more people at a high satisfaction level, and I expect this to continue."
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