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RFID News Roundup

Dash7 Alliance launches initiative to create standard network interface for ISO 18000-7 readers; HID Global, Sony to develop RFID reader platform for PCs; UNC study examines effectiveness of RF-enabled sponges; LA Metro to use contactless technology for single- and limited-use paper tickets; FastRFID implements RFID-enabled secure access-control system for GATC; Identec Solutions buys Sattel, provider of DGPS technology; Mobile Mark intros new RFID antennas for midrange industrial applications.
Oct 14, 2010The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Dash7 Alliance Launches Initiative to Create Standard Network Interface for ISO 18000-7 Readers
The Dash7 Alliance, a nonprofit industry consortium that promotes the ISO 18000-7 standard for wireless sensor networking, has announced that it has launched the Dash7 Network Access (DNA) initiative to create a standardized interface to communicate with Dash7 devices from any application or cloud-computing platform. Currently, there is no common Dash7 reader interface; as such, if a software application needs to communicate with readers from different vendors, separate reader interfaces need to be written, explains Patrick Burns, Dash7's president. "We want to reduce it to just one for all software developers," Burns states. "For end users who anticipate deploying readers/access points from many Dash7 vendors—and the U.S. Department of Defense is one example, but there will be many more—DNA will reduce deployment and maintenance costs for Dash7 networks. I hesitate to use the words 'plug and play,' but that is what we are aiming for, ultimately." The Dash7 DNA will enable software vendors to leverage existing code developed for passive RFID readers, and expand their capabilities to include Dash7 events. To develop the DNA, the alliance is enlisting the help of software developers and end users. According to Burns, the end result will be an open-source DNA "server" residing on a reader, with a DNA "client" residing at the application layer. "So think of DNA as a little bit of software code on both the reader and the software application, to make it easier for the two to talk to one another. This doesn't exist today. DNA will also be open-source, meaning anyone in the world with a software application that needs to connect to the 'Internet of things' will be able to make their application talk to a Dash7 reader." The initiative will leverage the EPCglobal and ISO 18000-6c low-level reader protocol (LLRP) directly, adding commands to that code base in order to maximize Dash7 adoption across the passive RFID landscape. A great deal of effort has gone into developing this same type of interface between passive EPC readers and software applications, such as those from IBM and SAP. "Many people involved in the creation of EPC's LLRP are involved in the Dash7 Alliance, and recommend not asking developers to start from scratch if we can simply leverage the existing work already in place for EPC, and just add a series of Dash7 commands to that existing code," he explains. "For example, it may be easier to convince Oracle or SAP on the idea of updating its existing passive interface to include Dash7, rather than to argue for building a wholly separate interface for Dash7. Some of the 'plumbing' involved in creating the EPC LLRP is reusable for Dash7, which is a great break for Dash7." DNA will be available to developers free of charge, through an open-source license, in 2011. Upon ratification by Dash7 Alliance members, DNA will be submitted for comment to the ISO 24791-5 committee for device interfaces.

HID Global, Sony to Develop RFID Reader Platform for PCs
HID Global and Sony have announced that they are forming a partnership to jointly develop an embedded RFID reader platform for the global PC marketplace. The jointly developed platform, the two companies report, will be designed specifically for laptop manufacturers, and will encompass both Sony's and HID Global's contactless solutions, as well as a broad range of other widely deployed technologies, while supporting specific regional and application needs. The new embedded reader platform will support Sony's 13.56 MHz FeliCa RFID chip and HID Global's 13.56 MHz iClass contactless smart-card technology, in addition to other broadly adopted technologies. What's more, the companies indicate, the reader solution will also support applications based on Near Field Communication (NFC). Goals for the joint development, which include a reference design and developer support, are focused on minimizing product-development requirements and speeding time-to-market schedules for PC manufacturers, and HID Global and Sony report that the partnership will provide additional details and availability information later this year. HID and Sony say they are now discussing details of the partnership and finalizing a definitive agreement.

UNC Study Examines Effectiveness of RF-enabled Sponges
Surgeons at the University of North Carolina (UNC) have completed a study of surgical sponges with embedded radio frequency (RF) technology, and have found that the technology is an effective adjunct to manual counting and X-ray detection in preventing sponges from being left behind in patients following a surgical procedure. The sponges used in the study did not contain passive RFID tags, however, but rather much simpler RF tags that work similarly to RF-based electronic article surveillance (EAS) tags used by some retailers. An RF tag emits a signal when within range of reader, but that signal is not encoded with a unique identification number, as would be the case with an RFID tag. Therefore, the system studied by the UNC researcher could not be used to count the number sponges used or discarded during surgery. Sponge-detecting systems that use RFID, on the other hand, can identify and count each individual sponge (see Surgical Sponges Get Smart and ORLocate RFID-enabled System for Surgical Sponges and Instruments Gets FDA Clearance). The UNC's surgeons presented the preliminary results of the study during a session at the 2010 Annual Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons, held earlier this month in Washington, D.C. The study, conducted from November 2009 to August 2010, included 1,600 operations. During that time, the surgeons used surgical sponges embedded with passive 145 kHz RF tags from RF Surgical Systems, as well a handheld scanning wand connected to an RF reader. In one instance, the surgeons to locate a missing sponge in which manual counting (typically performed by nurses who count sponges at the start and end of an operation) of the sponges had been correct. Although the sponge had been left behind, it was found outside the patient's operative cavity, says lead investigator and UNC gastrointestinal surgeon Christopher C. Rupp. According to UNC, the study's preliminary data correlates with data from previously published reports of incidences of sponges or another foreign body, such as a surgical instrument, being left behind following a procedure, ranging from one in 1,000 operations to one in 18,000. Surgeons used various methods to check for sponges and other foreign bodies, including manual counting and bar-coding, but the UNC investigators did not include bar-coding systems in their study. "RF detection is not going to replace counting in the operating room, but it can be used as an adjunct because, from what we're seeing in the preliminary data, it adds a lot to the safety of the procedure," Rupp said in a prepared statement. "Any foreign body present long enough has a risk of causing infection," he explained, noting that there are patients in whom sponges have eroded into other organs—primarily the intestines. "People can come back with chronic pain issues after an operation that also leads to detection of a retained surgical sponge," which may require being hospitalized for additional surgery. Other UNC coauthors were surgical oncologist Hong J. Kim, and adjunct professor of surgery Mary J. Kagarise, RN, MSPH.

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