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RFID News Roundup

Zebra Technologies announces new UHF Gen 2 card; UPM RFID unveils new RFID NFC tags; WinWare debuts AccuCab2D cabinet; Stratum Global adds to RFID Asset Track family; Pallets International intros RFID-enabled pallet; Awarepoint acquires PCTS; Fluensee, 4Front Engineered Solutions team up on RFID yard management.
Apr 21, 2011The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Zebra Technologies Announces New UHF Gen 2 Card
Zebra Technologies announced a new addition to its lineup of plastic ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID cards at RFID Journal LIVE! 2011, held last week in Orlando, Fla. The new card incorporates Impinj's Monza 4 chip and Zebra's patent-pending bowtie antenna design, specifically optimized for UHF card applications. The combination of the antenna and the Monza 4 chip provides the card with enhanced read rates, the company reports, and a read range of more than 50 feet—even while worn in a lanyard and used in access-control applications. Announced in February 2010, the Monza 4 chip offers greater memory, improved privacy features and increased performance (see Impinj Launches New High-Performance RFID Chips). Zebra Technologies' new UHF card can be used with Zebra's UHF card printer-encoder line that enables companies to print their own RFID cards. In 2008, Zebra unveiled a line of printer-encoders for passive UHF RFID-enabled plastic cards; prior to the availability of these devices, end users had to farm out the printing of such cards to RFID tag manufacturers or custom print houses able to both embed an RFID inlay in a card and print the card faces (see Zebra Announces UHF RFID Card Printers). According to the company, the new card addresses the current read limitations of other cards on the market, while opening new applications, such as reading through handbags, pockets and backpacks, and delivering increased access control and efficiency. Additional benefits of the new UHF Gen 2 RFID card include a new data structure designed to offer optimal memory configurations for privacy protection, an optional feature to reduce read range to less than 1 foot (and thus protect users from unauthorized tracking), and a 48-bit unique ID feature that protects against card cloning and provides a card-authentication method to uniquely identify every card.

/UPM RFID Unveils New RFID NFC Tags
UPM RFID has launched a number of Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID tags and inlays that it says are designed to meet the needs of a variety of applications. The company already offers several NFC products, including UPM BullsEye (designed for tokens, NFC stickers and smart posters, with an antenna size of 1.4 inches), UPM RaceTrack (designed for mass-transit, access-control and event-ticketing applications, with an antenna size of 1.8 inches by 3 inches) and UPM MiniTrack (a smaller version of UPM RaceTrack, designed for item-level pharmaceutical, brand-protection and ticketing applications, with an antenna size of 0.6 inch by 1.2 inches). New to the lineup are the UPM Circus and UPM MiniBlock, both designed for applications requiring reduced tag footprints, such as advertising and loyalty-card applications. The UPM Circus features a round antenna 0.9 inch in diameter, and the UPM MiniBlock has an antenna measuring 0.6 inch by 0.6 inch. Both are designed for smart-sticker, brand-protection, advertisement and loyalty applications, as well as for embedding into products. All of the NFC tags and inlays feature NXP Semiconductors' Mifare integrated circuits (ICs). The UPM BullsEye, UPM RaceTrack and UPM MiniTrack NFC products are currently available via UPM RFID's converting and distribution partners worldwide. UPM Circus and UPM MiniBlock are now available for sampling.

WinWare Debuts AccuCab2D Cabinet
WinWare, which manufactures a system that leverages EPC Gen 2 RFID tags and readers to help companies manage tooling, spare parts or any indirect material at the point of use, has announced a new product: the AccuCab2D device, similar to the company's standard AccuCab RFID-enabled cabinet, but with a two-door design and brighter light. The AccuCab2D is smaller in size—79 inches high, 52 inches wide and 26 inches deep—compared with the original AccuCab, which is 78 inches high, 68 inches wide and 34 inches deep. According to WinWare, the AccuCab2D is suitable for managing inventory in less industrial environments in which the large single-door cabinet makes little sense. In addition, the company notes, the brighter, more visual cabinet has a smaller footprint and is more suitable to environments such as offices or labs. For example, it can be used for IT equipment, hand scanners, laptops, cordless drills and so forth. Like the original AccuCab, it is a heavy-duty, double-walled cabinet, internally equipped with four RFID antennas, electronic door locks and adjustable shelving. Upon walking up to the cabinet, users must identify themselves prior to the doors being unlocked—either via a touch-screen monitor mounted on the door, or by scanning their employee badge. Once the doors are unlocked, a user can open the doors to find inventory tagged using passive Gen 2 RFID tags. If the user removes any items, the inventory level is automatically adjusted and properly accounted for. The same procedure takes place when that person returns an item. The user identifies himself or herself to the system, and then clicks "open" to unlock the doors, placing the item back on the shelving, in any location.

Stratum Global Adds to RFID Asset Track Family
Stratum Global has announced RFID Inspection Reporting, a rules-based workflow application that enables the mobile electronic inspection of any object, at any place and time. The application works with Stratum Global's AssetTrack family of interrelated modules, designed to reside on handheld RFID readers, which communicate with the company's TagNet Server wirelessly in real time, or via offline synchronization. The family includes, for example, Base AssetTrack, which associates and maps reusable RFID tags with meaningful and unique object identifiers, such as products, assets and personnel. The Physical Inventory module enables formal physical count procedures via RFID, with auditable asset identification. The new Inspection Reporting module is designed to eliminate manual pad-and-paper methods, as well as double entry-of-inspection data. The application can walk an inspector through a specific workflow of questions when he or she inspects an object. These prompts enable a decision tree that, based upon his or her response to a given prompt, will trigger further questions—which, in turn, can eventually invoke an action, such as instructing the onboard camera to take a picture, or send an e-mail alert or SMS text message to a supervisor. Enforcing consistency and discipline via user-defined inspection templates reduces the time required for scheduled inspections, the company reports, and also provides for more reliable information to improve operational asset utilization and cost savings. The new functionality enables multiple users to inspect assets in the field, based on assignments.

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