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RFID News Roundup

TagMaster delivers RFID solution for Chinese high-speed train maintenance; RFID-enabled bikes ride into Chicago; RFID is forecast for strong growth in Southeast Asia, two research firms say.
Aug 05, 2010The following are news announcements made during the past week.

TagMaster Delivers RFID Solution for Chinese High-Speed Train Maintenance
The Beijing Tielonghengtong Vehicle Equipment Co. (BTVE), a supplier and integrator within China's rail industry, has announced that it has selected TagMaster, a Stockholm-based RFID firm specializing in the railways sector, to provide RFID systems for automating the identification of high-speed trains in maintenance workshops across that country. According to the companies, the newly built workshops are maintaining a fleet of high-speed electric multiple-unit passenger trains. TagMaster's solution leverages 2.45 GHz RFID technology, and the initial installation in China will include 300 of the firm's readers, which can be affixed to rails and trains to automatically identify each train as it enters a workshop area. BTVE has already ordered 150 readers, TagMaster reports, and the first maintenance workshop is currently being installed. The remaining locations, the companies note, are expected to be completed sometime this year. The order was secured by the Shanghai Richor Commercial Co., TagMaster's distributor in China. In its contract with BTVE, Richor will provide the RFID equipment from TagMaster, as well as technical services in relation to the initial installations and integration. BTVE is serving as the initiative's system integrator, and is also providing a software solution for the maintenance workshops. According to TagMaster, BTVE expects the RFID system to be extended to additional maintenance workshops over the coming years.

RFID-enabled Bikes Ride Into Chicago
Chicagoans will have another option for getting around town with a new bike-sharing system that leverages radio frequency identification. Chicago B-cycle, a venture developed and offered by B-cycle, a partnership between Humana, Trek Bicycle Corp. and Crispin Porter + Bogusky, is designed to promote health and help the environment by offering an alternative transportation option to commuters, visitors and others in metro areas. The bike-sharing system is already offered in Denver (see Denver Rolls Along on RFID-Powered Bikes). The system features B-stations that contain locking bicycle racks, a kiosk similar to an automated teller machine, and Trek bikes secured via a rack's locking docks. With the B-cycle system, each locking dock contains an RFID interrogator for reading a bike's embedded low-frequency (LF) RFID tag, used to identify the bike and associate it with the individual who rents it. Users can pay with a credit card; when a user swipes his or her credit card at the kiosk to pay, that person can choose which bicycle to rent by pushing a button identifying a specific bike, which is then automatically unlocked from the rack. A user can also purchase and utilize an RFID-enabled B-card, which can be held up to a placard next to the buttons, causing the interrogator to collect the unique identification number encoded to the tag's memory. The device then forwards this information to a central B-cycle database, via the station's Internet link. If the user's account associated with that ID number is in good standing, the main database instructs the B-station to release the lock securing the selected bike. Regardless of whether the user obtains a bicycle via a credit card or a B-card, before the bike is removed, the rack interrogator collects the ID number encoded on the bicycle's RFID tag. The reader then forwards this number to the central database, so that the system knows which particular bike to associate with which user. Chicago B-cycle has put six B-stations and a total of 100 bicycles into service around the city, and the bikes will be available through October 2010 and the following spring. Chicago B-cycle is owned and operated by Bike and Roll Chicago, which operates 10 lakefront bicycle rental and tour locations throughout the city. "Chicago has a national reputation as one of the best large cities in the United States for bicycling. We've been working for many years to lessen traffic by offering alternatives to using the automobile," said Chicago Mayor Richard Daley in a prepared statement. "My goal is to make Chicago the most bicycle-friendly city in the United States."

RFID Is Forecast for Strong Growth in Southeast Asia, Two Research Firms Say
The RFID market in Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand is expected to more than triple by 2016, according to research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan. The company reports that the markets there earned revenues of more than $80 million in 2008, and estimates this number to reach more than $250 million in 2016. Frost & Sullivan cites various governments, along with industry-based associations, that have been investigating and promoting RFID's usage in numerous vertical markets, including the oil and gas, mining, casino, prison, and aviation industries, as well as for applications associated with CDs and DVDs. Frost & Sullivan does note several challenges, however, including RFID's total cost of ownership (TCO). "Many stakeholders are deterred by the total cost of ownership, as both hardware and system integration cost can be significant—particularly for larger-scale rollouts," said Richard Sebastian, a Frost & Sullivan industry analyst, in a prepared statement. "Hence, many potential end users prefer to wait for the costs to reduce before deploying the technology." But Frost & Sullivan also notes that RFID promises several benefits that many companies are looking for in these challenging economic times. "Initial results have shown that RFID provides tremendous promise in cost savings, besides significantly improving operational efficiency and enhancing security levels, which is also critical in running any organization today," Sebastian said. Another recently released research report, titled "Global RFID Market Analysis till 2010," from industry and market research firm RNCOS, also claims the Asia-Pacific market is expected to be the region of the world with the highest growth in terms of RFID revenue. Overall, the report indicates, the worldwide RFID market is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 17 percent in the period of 2011 to 2013, to approximately $9.7 billion. The Asia-Pacific region, the report adds, is anticipated to account for 27 percent of the entire RFID market by 2013.
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