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RFID News Roundup

RF Code adds tethered temperature sensor to its environmental-monitoring solution; Chapman University controls parking with TagMaster AVI system; MEPS Real-Time selects Ethertronics' antenna technology; Sirit announces launch of passive UHF RFID reader platform; NXP, AuthenTec and DeviceFidelity demo fingerprint-authenticated NFC payments; Logi-D unveils computer-vision technology for its RFID-enabled SCM suite for hospitals.
Aug 04, 2011The following are news announcements made during the past week.

RF Code Adds Tethered Temperature Sensor to Its Environmental Monitoring Solution
RF Code, an asset-management solutions provider, has introduced its model R151, an active RFID tag tethered to a sensor designed to monitor the temperatures of critical areas non-conducive to traditional sensor placements, such as within industrial refrigerators housing expensive pharmaceuticals, or below a raised floor within a data center. The R151 tag, which incorporates the same 433 MHz active RFID technology underlying all of RF Code's RFID tags and sensors, has a five-year battery life, and monitors and reports the temperatures observed by a digital thermometer embedded at the end of a 6-foot cable. This design provides for physical separation between the RF tag and the sealed temperature sensor itself. The tag will periodically report its own unique ID number, along with the temperature observed by the sensor (which is updated every 20 seconds). This form factor is particularly well suited for environments in which the tag is mounted in open spaces, the company reports, while the temperature sensor is routed into areas difficult to reach, such as above a suspended ceiling, or within the ductwork of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. "Different organizations have different needs for precise temperature monitoring," said Chris Gaskins, RF Code's VP of product development, in a prepared statement. "While their needs may differ, they all often face common sensor placement problems, including harsh environments, difficult to reach places, and RF-blocking enclosures, such as metal ductwork or freezers. Our new tethered sensor solves these deployment challenges."

Chapman University Controls Parking With TagMaster AVI System
Chapman University, located in Orange, Calif., has implemented an RFID-enabled system for automatic vehicle identification (AVI), provided by TagMaster North America, to help control the use of its campus parking lots. Prior to the installation, TagMaster reports, there were no parking controls or barrier gates to restrict entry and exit; as such, students, visitors and members of the faculty and staff could park anywhere, at anytime. According to TagMaster, the university considered employing proximity technology to track vehicle entry and exit points, but decided that such a system would be too cumbersome and time-consuming. Ultimately, the school opted to install 18 TagMaster LR-6 Pro readers and 12,000 S1255 MarkTags, in order to control the gates and record vehicle counts. TagMaster's long-range (LR) series of readers and tags work in the industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) frequency band of 2.45 GHz. According to the company, the read-only MarkTags, like other tags in the LR series, are designed to be read any number of times without reducing the battery's energy level, when the tags are used under normal conditions. Each tag has a factory-preprogrammed eight-digit unique identity code, as well as a 32-bit checksum for automatic verification. Since Chapman University implemented the system, students can park in assigned parking structures at specific times, while the faculty and staff are assured exclusive parking in designated areas. Visitors with pay-and-display privileges can park at specified times. Guards are no longer required to monitor the parking areas for violators during normal university hours, TagMaster reports, and vehicle entry and exit times have also been accelerated, due to the hands-free and automated RFID AVI technology. "The implementation of parking-control systems at our most centrally located parking facilities has allowed us to provide better customer service for our students, faculty and staff," said Sheryl Boyd, Chapman University's supervisor of parking and transportation services, in a prepared statement. "The ease of entry and exit utilizing TagMaster's RFID AVI allowed for a smooth transition into this new approach to managing our parking facilities here at Chapman University. We have also been able to utilize occupancy data provided by the TagMaster Readers to better allocate our parking resources." Automated Access System, a regional provider of access-control and parking solutions headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz., performed the installation.

MEPS Real-Time Selects Ethertronics' Antenna Technology
Ethertronics, a technology firm developing antenna and RF solutions, has announced that its antenna technology has been selected by MEPS Real-Time, an RFID solutions provider based in Carlsbad, Calif., for its Intelliguard RFID Solutions for Critical Inventory product line. Intelliguard is an RFID-based drug-management system that employs standard EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) passive RFID tags and interrogators, including a tabletop reader for commissioning the tag attached to each drug's packaging, as well as RFID-enabled drug-dispensing cabinets and bedside patient trays. Earlier this year, RFID Journal reported that a San Diego Hospital has been testing the system (see To Keep Drugs from Expiring, Hospital Tests Intelliguard System). Intelliguard is designed to provide real-time visibility of inventory, thereby ensuring that medications are available when required. What's more, inventory costs are reduced, since lower stock levels are necessary and medication expiration dates can be properly managed. This system, according to MEPS Real-Time, improves patient care by freeing up the nursing and pharmacy staff from having to manually count stock levels, make sure medication is available when needed, and verify that the proper medication is dispensed and administered at the correct dosage. To ensure that the Intelliguard system's interrogators read only the tags on products stored within the drug-dispensing cabinets—and not those of pharmaceuticals that have been removed and are located elsewhere within the room—the system contains RF shielding that restricts the reader's UHF transmissions to the cabinet's interior, and the device operates only when the drawers are closed. With the addition of Ethertronics' antenna technology, says Jay Williams, MEPS-Real Time's VP of marketing and business development, Intelliguard is now better able to ensure accurate readings within an environment that is constantly changing due to the presence of medications in various forms (liquids, solids and so forth) and volumes, as well as frequent fluctuations in the overall quantity of tagged items, as medicines are removed from Intelliguard cabinets and drawers, or replaced. The Ethertronics antenna can dynamically and automatically adjust its tuning capabilities, so that the system can accurately track item inventory in real time in such a continuously varying environment. Moreover, the Ethertronics solution also met MEPS Real-Time's other key requirements, such as the ability to rapidly scan across 50 frequency channels in the U.S. UHF band for RFID (915 MHz), and to dynamically tune a multiple-antenna system within 10 microseconds, in order to identify medications contained in the Intelliguard cabinet's drawers.

Sirit Announces Launch of Passive UHF RFID Reader Platform
Sirit, a provider of RFID technology and a company of Federal Signal Technologies, has announced the worldwide launch of the INfinity610 (IN610) fixed position 18000-6C/multi-protocol RFID reader platform. The platform is available with either four or eight antenna ports, and supports mono-static and bi-static configurations, as well compatibility with existing INfinity510 installations, while offering reduced power consumption (25 percent to 50 percent) over previous INFinity models. The system also features an AutoPHY enhancement designed to improve the reader's capability to dynamically adapt to changing conditions, enabling customers to focus on running their business instead of tuning their RF environment. The bi-static configuration supports future Class 3 and battery-assisted passive (BAP) tag protocols, as well as other applications. The system includes 128 MB of flash memory and 128 MB of RAM support, directly on the reader. Coupled with the IN610's additional processing speed, the memory enables customers to push greater functionality to the edge of their networks, Sirit reports, while also reducing the need for additional equipment. Metro Systems, the IT arm of German retail giant Metro Group, has utilized the INfinity510 reader extensively in RFID deployments for many years, said Dr. Gerd Wolfram, Metro System's managing director, in a prepared statement. "Our testing with the INfinity610 tells us that Sirit's tradition of building exceptional RFID products is continuing, and we look forward to raising the performance bar yet again," Wolfram stated. "We specifically appreciate the improved on-board computing power that provides us means to run advanced filter-algorithms for real-time false-positive reads suppression." Authorized Sirit partners are currently accepting preorders for the IN610 model, Sirit reports, with shipments slated to begin in the third quarter of 2011.

NXP, AuthenTec and DeviceFidelity Demo Fingerprint-Authenticated NFC Payments
NXP Semiconductors, AuthenTec and DeviceFidelity have announced that they are jointly developing reference designs aimed at enabling highly secure mobile payments via Android-based phones, through the use of fingerprint biometrics and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. The reference designs, the three companies report, are expected to help mobile-phone original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and wireless carriers address the growing demand for NFC-capable smartphones, which are forecast to grow to nearly 300 million units worldwide by 2014, according to Juniper Research. NXP, AuthenTec and DeviceFidelity also recently collaborated on a transaction made possible via a Motorola ATRIX 4G smartphone equipped with AuthenTec's AES1750 smart fingerprint sensor and DeviceFidelity's In2Pay microSD card, based on NXP's secure NFC solution. The mobile payment was conducted when the demonstrator swiped a finger over the smartphone's fingerprint sensor, authenticating that individual as the pre-enrolled account owner, and quickly launching a credit-card application. Following authentication, the user tapped the ATRIX smartphone against a payment terminal to complete the biometrically verified NFC mobile-payment transaction, which the companies claim is the first of its kind in the United States. NXP, AuthenTec and DeviceFidelity indicate they plan to collaborate on similar NFC-based designs in the future, to help enable the broad proliferation of mobile wallets in the United States and other regions. "The payment experience demonstrated by NXP, DeviceFidelity and AuthenTec provides the convenience, speed and security consumers require for broad adoption of mobile wallets," said Henri Ardevol, NXP Semiconductors' VP and GM for secure transactions, in a prepared statement. "The fingerprint transaction shows how future mobile transactions may become increasingly convenient through the use of NFC and biometrics. In the meantime, however, we continue to focus on bringing easy-to-integrate yet highly secure solutions to mobile phone OEMs and carriers eager to offer secure mobile wallet designs."

Logi-D Unveils Computer-Vision Technology for Its RFID-enabled SCM Suite for Hospitals
Logi-D, a provider of hospital supply chain management (SCM) and automation solutions, as well as an RFID-enabled two-bin replenishment concept known under the 2BIN-iD brand, has unveiled a new solution leveraging a small camera and computer-vision technology to analyze a live video stream, recognize events and prompt business rules in software applications. The solution has been integrated into Logi-D's 2BIN-iD solutions platform for managing inventory. 2BIN-iD features a shelving unit with multiple baskets for storing supplies; each basket has a card attached to it, containing an embedded 13.56 MHz passive RFID tag complying with the ISO 15693 standard. The baskets are designed to hold sutures or other medical supplies. When a basket is emptied, a nurse can remove that basket, along with the card clipped to it, and then place the card on a board containing an RFID reader mounted behind it. The interrogator collects the unique ID number encoded to the card's tag, and transmits this information to Logi-D's LogiDATA-iD software application, which links the transponder information to the supply database. The software automatically issues resupply requests to the appropriate personnel, who can then unclip the RFID card from the board, affix it to a full basket and place that basket on the shelf. The new computer-vision technology, known as VC-iD, uses the small cameras mounted on storage units to detect if the bins are empty, and will trigger replenishment requests before critical thresholds are met. Because no user intervention is required, the technology has the potential to accomplish much more, Logi-D reports, with no disruption to natural workflows. "Computer vision further broadens our scope of enabling technologies, which already range from script recognition and keyboard entry to bar-code, RFID and voice recognition," said Richard Philippe, Logi-D's founder and CEO, in a prepared statement. "All of these data collection technologies bring their own benefits and are used in our applications to maximize outcomes. Computer vision technology offers the advantage of completely eliminating user compliance issues without compromising the lean kanban practices or storage optimization benefits that Logi-D has built its reputation on." VC-iD will be showcased at Logi-D's booth during the Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM) Annual Conference & Exhibition, being held on Aug. 7-10, 2011, in Boston.
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