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RFID News Roundup

RFID helps analyze psychiatric conference; U.K. companies launch national record-sharing service for underground assets; Metalcraft delivers upgraded RFID windshield tag; STMicroelectronics announces NFC wireless memory app for Android smartphones.
Sep 08, 2011The following are news announcements made during the past week.

RFID Helps Analyze Psychiatric Conference
Every attendee at the 63rd Annual National Conference of the Indian Psychiatric Society (ANCIPS), held earlier this year in New Delhi, was provided with an RFID-tagged conference pass containing his or her personal data and access rights. The goal: to better understand the amount of time that delegates spent in the conference halls. The solution, created by Vicinity RFID Solutions Pvt. India, leveraged Vicinity RFID Solutions' middleware, UPM RFID's Short Dipole ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 passive RFID inlays and ThingMagic's Astra readers, provided by Fedders Lloyd Corp. Ltd., Vicinity RFID Solutions' parent company. The conference and various technical sessions took place in 10 halls over a period of four days. The tagged passes, used to track delegates' movements, were constantly monitored by Astra readers installed at each hall's entrance, with entry and exit times recorded as attendees moved from one hall to another. The data gathered by the interrogators in each hall was processed, evaluated and presented for every delegate and session, including the time that visitors spent at any given session, as well as a report of the total number of hours spent in the various halls. The conference attracted more than 1,900 attendees, and one of the main sponsors was Alkem Laboratories, India's seventh largest pharmaceutical company. Vicinity RFID Solutions and Alkem Laboratories indicate that they hope to implement more than 10 similar projects throughout the year ahead, with a variety of medical associations. Conference attendance may have broad implications in India, say the companies involved in the ANCIPS initiative, since the Medical Council of India, a statutory body responsible for establishing and maintaining high standards of medical education in that country, and for recognizing medical qualifications, is considering awarding credit hours to doctors for the purpose of license renewal, based on their attendance at such conferences. "It's not an easy task to track 1,900 delegates spreading out in 10 halls in the event area with accuracy and in real time," said Edward Lu, UPM RFID's sales and marketing director for Asia, in a prepared statement. "Using RFID to automate people tracking has significant advantages over traditional manual processes, as there's no need for extra staff to check IDs or the participants' attendance in various sessions. Information about entries and exits, movement around the area and time spent in various locations is captured in real time and available for analysis and immediate action. This helps organizers develop their events according to the interests of the relevant key target group."

U.K. Companies Launch National Record-Sharing Service for Underground Assets
The partners behind Intelligent Trench, an RFID-enabled underground mapping solution, have announced that they are joining forces with PelicanCorp, the provider of the beforeUdig service, to launch a national record-sharing service for underground assets in the United Kingdom. The no-charge service combines direct access to underground asset data via the Intelligent Trench portal, in addition to an automated plan request service from beforeUdig. Intelligent Trench is a collaborative solution from Bentley Systems, 3M, Infotec and Trac-ID Ltd.. The Intelligent Trench solution leverages a spatial asset database and a Web portal, part of an asset lifecycle-management solution from Bentley Systems, an RFID asset-marking system from 3M (for accurately identifying underground assets) and field-based GPS data-collection software from Trac-ID. The city of Westminster, in the United Kingdom, has tested the solution, for example, to pinpoint the location of and manage underground municipal water pipes and electrical cables via GPS coordinates and handheld RFID readers, as well as verify their position and depth in a software database (see RFID Cements Its Place in the Construction Industry). The asset-marking system includes markers that have 66 kHz passive RFID tags, as well as 3M's Dynatel Locator, used to read each marker's unique tag ID number. The locater has a built-in interface to the GPS device, which uses this information. Combining the Intelligent Trench solution with beforeUdig—which contractors can utilize to request plans from utilities, and which notifies each utility of every intention to dig—enables authorities, statutory undertakers and contractors to employ the Intelligent Trench portal to access utility plan information directly from the portal's database, and to initiate utility plan requests for additional plan information via the beforeUdig service—all in a one-stop operation. The service provides asset data quickly and efficiently, the companies report, thereby saving time and money for all stakeholders; what's more, it helps improve workers' on-site safety, and protects underground assets from accidental damage.

Metalcraft Delivers Upgraded RFID Windshield Tag
Metalcraft has announced an upgrade to its EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) windshield tags that feature KSW Microtec's WindSpeed inlay, made with Impinj's Monza 4 RFID chip, which Metalcraft says allows improved vehicle ID and access control. The standard RFID Windshield Tag, a 4-inch by 1-inch label that can be placed on an automobile windshield's interior, is printed on both sides—one side with variable copy (such as a bar code), the other with uniform content (such as a logo or a disclaimer). The passive RFID label provides a read range of more than 30 feet, the company reports, and supports 496 bits of EPC memory and 512 bits of user memory. "The new WindSpeed inlays are engineered to offer the best, consistent read range on glass used for vehicles," said Thomas Hitzer, KSW Microtec's CEO, in a prepared statement. Metalcraft's construction encapsulates the inlay between thin layers of polyester, adding a bar code and human-readable information to one side, and a windshield-compatible adhesive to the other. According to Metalcraft, this encapsulation process protects the inlay and reduces the effects of electrostatic discharge (ESD), while the windshield-compatible adhesive protects against harmful UV rays. The WindSpeed does not require a foam standoff, like other windshield tag designs. Orders are shipped within 15 days of proof approval, with prices varying by quantity.

STMicroelectronics Announces NFC Wireless Memory App for Android Smartphones
Semiconductor company STMicroelectronics has announced the availability of an Android smartphone application for its M24LR64 RFID-enabled memory chip. The M24LR64 chip, launched in April 2011 (see RFID News Roundup: STMicroelectronics Launches Dual-Interface EEPROM, Enabling Remote Access to Electronic Devices), has the ability to transmit and receive information from the heart of an application to a smartphone containing NFC technology, or to an industrial RFID reader, thereby enabling transactions, data exchange, object identification and tracking to occur rapidly. A new application known as Dual EE, which operates on the Android operating system, delivers full compatibility with STMicroelectronics' M24LR64 wireless memory, the company reports. Dual EE connects an NFC-enabled smartphone to a prototype temperature recorder featuring the M24LR64 wireless memory, and demonstrates data transfer and storage. These capabilities are easily transferable to a broad range of products, the company indicates, including medical devices (see RFID Can Simplify Maintenance of Patient-Monitoring Devices), home appliances, consumer electronic products and meters. The M24LR64 memory chip features NFC RFID compatibility, an ISO 15693 wireless interface operating at 13.56 MHz, a low-power wired I2C interface to MCU or chipset, 64 kilobits of memory and a 32-bit password scheme. "The combination of this new Android app and our innovative dual-interface wireless EEPROM memory will allow users to communicate with a wide range of electronic devices via their NFC-enabled smartphones," said Benoit Rodrigues, the GM of STMicroelectronics' Memories Division, in a prepared statement. The Dual EE app, which can be downloaded free of charge from the Android Market, has already been validated on several leading smartphones. The source code for this sample application is available at STMicroelectronics' Web site, providing developers with a head-start toward designing their own Android NFC applications that can communicate with dual-interface EEPROM products. The M24LR64 wireless memory is available now, priced at $0.72 for 1,000 units, with alternative pricing options available for larger quantities. STMicroelectronics plans to introduce additional members of its dual-interface EEPROM family during the fourth quarter of 2011.
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