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RFID News Roundup

Norsat International launches RFID product line; Airtag raises €4 million; KeyTone, Arviem team up to deliver trade-monitoring and -management services; Ascendent ID unveils its smallest tag for automatic vehicle identification; Vail Resorts' RFID-powered social-media program hits milestone; ABI Research says UHF RFID in growth pattern, thanks to item-level tags.
Feb 10, 2011The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Norsat International Launches RFID Product Line
Broadband communications solutions provider Norsat International has announced that its Microwave Business Unit will offer RFID on-metal tags and readers as part of its microwave components product line. The Norsat RFID tag, which employs the ISO-18000-6C (EPC Gen 2) protocol, can be read when attached to metal surfaces, the company reports, and offers a compact, lightweight and economical method for tracking and monitoring assets, such as vehicles, baggage, products and inventory. According to Norsat, the tag offers 512 bits of memory and has a read range of 1.5 meters (5 feet) with a 100 percent read rate. The new RFID readers are compatible with the ISO-18000-6C (EPC Gen 2), ISO 18000-6B, UCode EPC 1.19 (256 bits) and EM IPX protocols, and are designed to provide an automated solution for ensuring product security and managing inventory and product warranty. The readers operate at 902 to 928 MHz, and feature a RS-232 (baud rate 9600 to 115000) or USB interface. The RFID reader is available in a desktop option, as well as a bay-door variety to provide maximum flexibility to users. The desktop model is available in a rugged 5-by-3-inch package for portable use within a facility, while the bay-door version is available in a 16-inch round package, and can be mounted by a warehouse bay door to track all tagged products entering or exiting a facility.

Airtag Raises €4 Million
Airtag, a contactless solutions supplier located in France, has announced its completion of a fundraising effort worth €4 million ($5.4 million)—its second since the company's formation in mid-2006—in an effort to accelerate the deployment of its AIRFID platform, launched 18 months ago, with major retail companies (fast-food outlets, supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol stations), and the first international rollouts of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. The AIRFID platform includes a loyalty-card program that Airtag developed working with Gedenim, a French clothing retail chain specializing in jeans, which employed Airtag's cards containing passive 13.56 MHz RFID chips to attract shoppers to its stores (see French Jean Boutique Adopts RFID to Boost Loyalty). In June 2010, Airtag participated in an NFC RFID initiative known as Cityzi, in which hundreds of Nice residents used NFC-enabled Samsung phones to function as bus and light-rail tickets, and employed NFC-enabled cards or phones to gain loyalty points when shopping at participating stores (see Cityzi Seeks to Spur Adoption of NFC RFID Technology). The round of fundraising was led by CM-CIC Capital Privé and Airtag's traditional investor, Seventure Partners. Airtag says it is accelerating the mass production of its solutions by setting up a production and support center to cover large-scale deployments in France and elsewhere. "We are speeding up our deployment and R&D capacity to consolidate our commercial positions in France," said Jérémie Leroyer, Airtag's cofounder and CEO, in a prepared statement, "and support the initial launch of NFC technology in various target regions, mainly Europe and the United States."

KeyTone, Arviem Team Up to Deliver Trade-Monitoring and -Management Services
KeyTone Technologies, a provider of RFID and other sensor-based solutions, has partnered with Arviem to deliver in-transit trade-monitoring and -management services. The services leverage RFID technology (used to track individual pallets) and GPS/satellite-communications technology (used to track the real-time location of the container carrying the RFID-tagged pallets). The services employ a combination of active 433 MHz and passive EPC Gen 2 tags, and come with all of the components of the solution, including hardware and a new software platform designed to enable Web-based monitoring, analytics and reporting. "Our focus as a company is 'ensuring visibility and delivering results,'" said Edwin Winder, KeyTone's executive VP, in a prepared statement. "Tracking cargo while in-transit and ensuring visibility through to its destination is of critical importance in successfully managing the supply chain. Our relationship with Arviem will open new opportunities for KeyTone in this valuable market. This service is now available to all who want its benefits and the information can easily be integrated to existing supply chain systems of record."

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