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RFID News Roundup

SkyeTek announces opening of China office; Axios Mobile Assets to supply RFID system to Elba Labs; Aloft opens door to RFID-enabled smart check-in at more hotels; Power Solutions joins Dash7 Alliance; Ekahau, Extricom team to enable real-time location tracking over Wi-Fi.
May 12, 2011The following are news announcements made during the past week.

SkyeTek Announces Opening of China Office
RFID hardware and software provider SkyeTek has announced the opening of a new office in China aimed at servicing the growing demand for SkyeTek's products and solutions in that country. In the first quarter of 2011, SkyeTek's revenue from sales in China grew 20 percent compared with the same quarter last year, and the company's overall, global revenue grew 40 percent in the first quarter compared with the same time in 2010. The office, located in Shijiazhuang, the capital and largest city of North China's Hebei province, expands SkyeTek's ability to offer local sales and support services to its fastest growing base of customers and prospects in the region, the company says. SkyeTek offers a variety of products that support a number of RFID standards (EPC Class 1 Gen 2, ISO 18000-3, ISO 15693 and ISO 144443 A/B). The lineup includes RFID reader modules designed to be embedded in other devices and available in a range of form factors and sizes. The company also makes standalone RFID readers, including desktop models or for incorporation into portals or cabinets. In addition, the company provides professional services to assist customers in integrating and deploying RFID into their product lines and organizations. According to SkyeTek, RFID's popularity is growing among Chinese corporations, particularly among those in the health-care and pharmaceutical industries, where asset tracking, security, reliability, and performance are critical. SkyeTek currently has dozens of customers in China—many of which procure RFID products in large volume. One such customer is TT Electronics' Chinese subsidiary, a provider of telecom, medical, and industrial products, which is currently embedding SkyeTek RFID technology into components it provides to Thermo Fisher Scientific. SkyeTek also announced the hiring of Aaron Rasch as managing director of Asia Pacific. Rasch, the company says, spent the past six years engaged in on-the-ground management and business development across mainland China for a wide range of technology products.

Axios Mobile Assets to Supply RFID System to Elba Labs
Axios Mobile Assets Corp., an Ontario provider of plastic RFID-enabled pallets, has announced plans to supply its proprietary pallet and asset-tracking software to Elba Laboratories. A manufacturer of pharmaceutical and personal care products, Elba Laboratories plans to use the technology in their logistics operations, according to Axios. Axios will supply for an initial pilot program with Elba Laboratories its bio-based composite pallet, which is derived from natural materials. The company's pallets have been engineered to help curtail phytosanitary control issues and contain no decaBDE (decabromodiphenyl ether), a chemical flame retardant sometimes used in other plastic pallets. They are also resistant to mold, mildew and insects, the company says. The pallets leverage EPC Gen 2 passive RFID tags, GPS and cellular communication technologies. According to Axios, Elba Laboratories works with Fortune 500 health care manufacturers that market a broad spectrum of patient care products. A primary product line for Elba is Medpak, a set of stable formulatory foundations that delivers a host of pharma-based product applications. "As a manufacturer in the pharmaceutical industry, it is excellent to see a company such as Axios that provides a solution which meets the ever-changing regulatory and operational standards of the industry," Mike Frohlich, owner of Elba Laboratories, said in a prepared statement. "Furthermore, the continuous traceability of the pallets in the Axios solution offers us a unique ability to track and manage our shipments with increased visibility." Axios has already delivered its solution to other companies; Toronto third-party logistics firm JD Smith & Sons began installing Axios' technology in November 2010 to help track pallets, the goods loaded onto them, and the trucks transporting the pallets and goods (see Axios MA Launches Tagged Pallets and Real-Time Tracking Solution).

Aloft Opens Door to RFID-enabled Smart Check-In at More Hotels
Aloft Hotels has announced plans to extend its Smart Check-In program and implement an RFID-enabled hotel-locking system at five additional properties this year, after completing a pilot of the technology at Aloft Lexington in Massachusetts in 2010. The system used during the pilot, which Aloft Hotels says was extremely successful, was provided by VingCard Elsafe, a hospitality security provider and part of the ASSA Abloy Hospitality Group. The system includes contactless electronic door locks that leverage 13.56 MHz RFID technology and are compatible with the ISO 14443 A/B, ISO 15693 and Near Field Communication (NFC) standards. The additional hotels scheduled to receive the system by year's end include Aloft Harlem and Aloft Brooklyn in New York, Aloft Dallas Downtown in Texas, Aloft Jacksonville Tapestry Park in Florida and Aloft London in the United Kingdom. Aloft Hotels, part of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, was launched in 2008 and consists of nearly 50 properties worldwide, designed to appeal to the digital generation with free hotel-wide wireless Internet access, CAT-6 high-throughput wires throughout the hotels to accommodate current and future technologies, a one-stop connectivity solution that links multiple electronic gadgets at once such as PDAs, cell phones, mp3 players and laptops, and 42-inch flat-panel HDTV-ready television. With Aloft Hotels' RFID-enabled Smart Check-In program, select Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) members who opt to participate will receive an enhanced SPG/Aloft-branded keycard with an embedded RFID inlay. On the day of a planned stay, a text message is sent to the guest's mobile device with their room number. Once at the hotel, guests can skip the check-in line and go straight to their room, where they can hold their RFID keycard up to an RFID-enabled locking system to automatically unlock the door. The process gives guests control of their check-in experience, according to Aloft Hotels. According to hotel chain, the SPG/Aloft-branded RFID keycard may eventually act as an all-access pass throughout the Aloft stay, allowing guests to purchase cocktails and snacks at the bar, sundries at the retail kiosk, and food at the deli-style, grab-and-go pantry.

Power Solutions Joins Dash7 Alliance
Infinite Power Solutions (IPS), a manufacturer of rechargeable, thin-film energy storage devices, has announced that it has joined the Dash7 Alliance, a coalition of organizations promoting the use of RFID solutions compliant with the ISO 18000-7 (Dash7) standard for active 433 MHz tags and readers. Formed in March 2009, the alliance aims to facilitate the adoption of ISO 18000-7 RFID technology, which is currently used primarily in the defense industry (see Dash7 Alliance Forms to Advance Active RFID Standard). Among ISP's roster of products includes the Thinergy MEC101, a thin-film, single cell battery. As a member of the Dash7 Alliance, IPS will work with more than 50 companies worldwide that are Dash7 members, to advance the development of the ISO 18000-7 standard and to help integrate Dash7 technology into powered cards used for credentials, transportation, access control and location systems. Other members consist of RFID equipment manufacturers, systems integrators, developers, regulators, academia and end users, including Dow, Michelin, Northrop Grumman, and the U.S. Departments of Energy and Defense. The Thinergy MEC101 will be embedded in several thin powered devices, which include Dash7 technology, according to IPS.

Ekahau, Extricom Team to Enable Real-Time Location Tracking Over Wi-Fi
Ekahau, a provider of Wi-Fi based real-time location systems (RTLS), has announced a technology and marketing partnership with Extricom, a manufacturer of Wi-Fi infrastructure. The Ekahau RTLS technology has been integrated with Extricom access points to allow Extricom customers to accurately locate high-value assets, inventory and people in any enterprise. Real-Time location tracking is increasingly utilized in health-care, government, retail, hospitality, and mining. The Ekahau system consists of battery-powered Wi-Fi tags, which are mounted to assets or carried by people, the Ekahau RTLS Controller software, which is used to locate and manage tracked devices, and Ekahau Vision software, for visualizing the tracked items and configuring location-based business rules. In addition to tracking Wi-Fi tags, Ekahau's RTLS can track Wi-Fi enabled devices, such as tablets and smartphones. The Ekahau-Extricom solution is available now from Extricom sales representatives globally.
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