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RFID News Roundup

Avery Dennison intros new line of NFC inlays; German hospital deploys Wi-Fi badges for staff safety and tags for asset tracking; Kovio raises $15 million with lead investor Tyco Retail Solutions; RF Monolithics adds new wireless sensor products to portfolio; ILP becomes exclusive distributor of Surfaceslab smart surfaces in North America; adoption of NFC RFID continues to grow at hotels.
Jun 16, 2011The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Avery Dennison Intros New Line of NFC Inlays
Avery Dennison RFID, a provider of ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID inlays, has introduced its N-Zone line of Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID inlays, which the company says will support the proliferation of innovative, high-performance NFC applications across the globe, as NFC-enabled smartphones become widespread. The first products in the N-Zone line of NFC inlays utilize NXP Semiconductors' Icode chips. According to the company, Avery Dennison's N-Zone tags can be used to transform ordinary product labels and store environments into powerful media for branding, as well as for new customer experiences. The N-Zone inlays are ISO 15693/IEC 18000-3-compliant and designed for library media management, health-care and biological sample tracking, and NFC-enabled product packaging and promotional smart posters. Avery Dennison has introduced five models. The AD-709x antenna measures 1.85 inches by 1.85 inches, and is designed for managing media, particularly books and documents. The AD-714x, also designed for media management, has an antenna measuring 1.77 inches by 3 inches, with an optimized read range that fits into an ISO card form factor. The AD-720x has an antenna diameter of 1.42 inches, and can be applied to the center ring of a CD or DVD for media-management applications. The AD-730X has an antenna dimension of 0.551 inch by 1.221 inches, and is designed for such health-care applications as wristbands, asset tagging, medical labels and pharmaceuticals. Due to its small size, the company notes, the AD-730X may also be applied in markets outside of health care, such as secure entry devices (key fobs, for example). Finally, the AD-770X is the smallest form factor in the lineup, with an antenna measuring 0.591 inch by 0.591 inch. According to Avery Dennison, this model is suitable for health care, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and liquids, event ticketing, preferred customer cards and secure entry devices. NXP and Avery Dennison are both members of the NFC Forum, an industry standards group promoting the adoption of NFC technologies.

German Hospital Deploys Wi-Fi Badges for Staff Safety and Tags for Asset Tracking
Wi-Fi based real-time location system (RTLS) provider Ekahau has announced that German hospital Westküstenklinikum Heide (WKK) is using its Wi-Fi-based tracking technology to assure the safety of its psychiatric and night-duty staff, and to track the locations of wheelchairs. WKK ranks among northern Germany's largest and most modern clinics, according to Ekahau, with a total capacity of 800 beds and a staff of approximately 2,200 workers. Ekahau's RTLS, which consists of the Ekahau Positioning Engine and Vision software, coupled with a variety of Wi-Fi-based RFID tags and sensors, works with any generation or brand of Wi-Fi network. At WKK, Ekahau's T301BD pager badges are worn by members of the psychiatric and night-duty staff, who can use their badges to trigger an alarm in the event of an emergency situation. When an alarm sounds, the Ekahau Wi-Fi badges utilize the hospital's existing wireless network to identify the sender's identity and exact location. In addition, Ekahau's T301 asset tags are used for logistics management, to locate available wheelchairs throughout the facility. "We repeatedly experienced shortages of urgently needed wheelchairs, so we sought a simple solution to the problem," said Humayaun Kabir, WKK's CIO, in a prepared statement. "Ekahau's tags convinced us because they're easy to integrate into our Wi-Fi network, and now we always know exactly where critical assets are located." The Ekahau tags automatically transmit a signal whenever a wheelchair leaves its assigned territory, so that it can be retrieved immediately. Hospital personnel can also analyze historical usage patterns so that assets can be deployed where they are typically needed most.

Kovio Raises $15 Million With Lead Investor Tyco Retail Solutions
Kovio, a Silicon Valley company focused on developing low-cost RFID tags using printable silicon electronics and thin-film technology, has announced that it has raised $15 million in new equity financing led by Tyco Retail Solutions, a unit of Tyco International focused on retail solutions and services, including RFID solutions. The funding, according to Kovio and Tyco Retail Solutions, will enable the two companies to deliver solutions that take advantage of the emerging infrastructure of Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled devices and printed silicon capabilities. Current investors Kleiner Perkins, Caufield & Byers, DAG Ventures, Northgate Capital, Harris & Harris, Flagship Ventures and Pangaea Ventures also participated in the round. This funding follows other investment rounds; in July 2009, Kovio announced that it had raised $20 million (see RFID News Roundup: Kovio Lands Additional Funding to Print Silicon RFID Tags). Kovio unveiled its tag, which it refers to as an RF bar code, in late 2008. The tag, which contains a printed chip that complies with the ISO 14443A standard, can contain 128 bits of data, encoded permanently onto the chip as part of the printing process (rather than encoded later via RF), and can transmit that information at a rate of 106 kilobits per second. "By integrating our products with the offerings from Tyco Retail Solutions, we are enabling new opportunities for retailers and brand owners," said Amir Mashkoori, Kovio's CEO, in a prepared statement. Used in conjunction with NFC-enabled mobile phones and devices, the company reports, Kovio's "RF bar codes" will support mobile marketing and advertising, by enabling brand owners and retailers to engage directly with individual consumers. "Kovio has developed a groundbreaking technology, and we are pleased to partner with them to accelerate its introduction to the market," said Scott Clements, Tyco Retail Solutions' president, in the statement.

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