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RFID News Roundup

Maxim intros new RFID key fobs, cards; Intelligent InSites to integrate Proxense's RFID technology; Albis Technologies rolls out TrainTracer deployments; Omnitrol announces new middleware version with Google's JavaScript V8; Arcontia unveils new smart-card controller board.
Sep 29, 2011The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Maxim Intros New RFID Key Fobs, Cards
Maxim Integrated Products, a manufacturer of highly integrated analog and mixed-signal semiconductors, has introduced a new line of RFID key fobs and cards designed for automatic-identification, access-control and electronic-cash applications. Maxim designed the chips used in the fobs and cards, and the new contactless RFID product family comes in six versions, all complying with the ISO 14443B or ISO 15693 high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz standards. The new devices are packaged in a laminated plastic key fob or an ISO thin-card format. The Max 66000, Max 66020 and Max 66040 versions support the ISO 14443B protocol, while the Max 66100, Max 66120 and Max 66140 iterations support the ISO 15693 standard. The Max 66000 and Max 66100 have a 64-bit ID-only ROM, the Max 66020 and Max 66121 feature a ROM ID plus 1 kilobit of EEPROM, and the Max 66040 and Max 55140 come with a ROM ID plus 1 kilobit of EEPROM and SHA-1 authentication. Custom form factors are also available. The Max 66040 and Max 66140 devices employ the secure hash algorithm (SHA-1), a technology designed by the National Security Agency (NSA) for protecting a system's critical data without using expensive encryption techniques or an untested, proprietary protocol. The algorithm is designed to maintain the stored data's integrity, the company reports, so that one can verify any credential's authenticity. "SHA-1 is the most widely used of the existing SHA hash functions, and is employed in several widely used security applications and protocols," says Guru Raj, the executive business manager for Maxim's RFID and IButtons products. "SHA-1 and SHA-2 are the secure hash algorithms required by law for use in certain U.S. government applications, including use within other cryptographic algorithms and protocols, for the protection of sensitive, unclassified information. These algorithms have gone through thorough scrutiny of the U.S. government, compared to many other proprietary protocols." According to Raj, Maxim has also added additional physical security measures to prevent breaches from physical attacks, though he declines to comment further on that technology. Maxim, he adds, is currently working with several customers on pilots testing the new products, which involve secure access, anti-counterfeiting of consumables, and intellectual property (IP) protection. Available now, the RFID key fobs and cards are custom-programmable to match the requirements of new and existing tag populations. They work with most 13.56 MHz readers currently on the market, thus providing an alternative tag source for existing systems. Pricing begins at 72 cents per fob or tag. Maxim is also sampling inlays.

Intelligent InSites to Integrate Proxense's RFID Technology
Intelligent InSites, a provider of enterprise real-time location system (RTLS) software for hospitals, has announced that it is partnering with RFID firm Proxense to expand the portfolio of RTLS hardware technologies that are compatible with Intelligent InSites' software. The InSites Enterprise Visibility Platform culls information collected from various automatic-identification technologies—such as Proxense's ID badge with a built-in active 2.4 GHz RFID tag—to help hospitals visualize the location and status of assets, track equipment-utilization rates, and generate rules-based notifications and alerts. The software is designed, among other things, to help increase productivity and more efficiently deploy resources. Both companies have already deployed their products in hospital settings. Intelligent InSites' software is being utilized by Butler Health System's Butler Memorial hospital, in Butler, Penn. (see Butler Hospital Uses RFID Linked to Voice-Over-IP), while Proxense's products are being used by Central Oregon Ear, Nose and Throat LLC, in Bend, Ore. (see Oregon Clinic Improves Access to Electronic Medical Records). The combination of their technologies, the two companies indicate, will enable hospitals to track equipment, patients and employees at the enterprise-wide, departmental, room and bay levels. Intelligent InSites reports that its RTLS software platform is built to collect real-time location and condition-sensing data from any type of RTLS technology, including infrared/RF, passive RFID, ultrasound, Wi-Fi and ZigBee, enabling the company's customers to use the most appropriate real-time locating hardware to meet their current and future needs.

Albis Technologies Rolls Out TrainTracer Deployments
Albis Technologies, a provider of location and tracking solutions, has announced that its solution is being rolled out by railway operators in Switzerland and Germany, and that it also has its sights set on growth across Europe. The company's Zone Monitoring & Find (ZOMOFI) solutions feature active, battery-powered RFID tags that transmit at 2.4 GHz using a proprietary air-interface protocol. The ZOMOFI TrainTracer (TT) solution includes Albis' Z-Tag Ruggedized S3135-H550 tags, offering a durable, weather-resistant design enabling it to be attached to vehicles, containers and metal assets. The tag includes 112 bytes of user memory, and supports sleep and wake-up functions. Its battery has a lifespan of eight to 12 years, depending on usage, and can be read while moving at speeds up to 160 kilometers per hour (99 miles per hour), and at temperatures as low as -35 degrees Celsius (-31 degrees Fahrenheit). The TT solution also includes exciters or triggers, ensuring that each Z-Tag can be read at high speeds, as well as 2.45 GHz active RFID readers, which can be optionally supplemented with GPS and GPRS functionality. Finally, the system includes Z-Edgeware (S3135-B200) to enable integration of the data with back-end systems. The high-speed collection of information from the wagons allows train operators to know exactly when, where and how often their passenger or freight cars and locomotives are used. It also not only enables companies to optimize the maintenance and management of their rolling stock, Albis reports, but also makes fully transparent, accurate and immediate data available in order to ensure safe, reliable operations and regulatory compliance. Rail companies already utilizing the ZOMOFI solution include Swiss operators Rhätische Bahn (RhB) and the Wengernalpbahn (WAB), both of which operate in the high-altitude regions of Switzerland. RhB—which owns the largest network of all private railways in that country, operates most of the railways in the Swiss canton of Graubünden and serves a number of major tourist centers, including St. Moritz and Davos—has used the ZOMOFI solution since 2009, to increase its quality and efficiency in planning and scheduling its vehicles and train formation. The company needed to centralize planning, automatically detect vehicle locations and optimize wagon deployment for its 370 passenger carriages, 950 freight cars and 130 locomotives. Similarly, WAB's deployment this year allows the company to collect real-time data regarding car usage and train times. Albis' solutions have also been deployed by museums (see Albis Technologies' RFID Tags Help Protect European Art) and retail stores (see German Supermarkets Use RFID to Manage Warehouse Access and Send Alerts).

Omnitrol Announces New Middleware Version With Google's JavaScript V8
Omnitrol Networks, based in Mountain View, Calif., has unveiled a new version of its Edge Application and Services Engine (EASE) middleware for RFID. Version 4.0 integrates Google's V8 JavaScript engine, which the company says allows system integrators and the independent software vendor (ISV) community to employ an open, industry-standard toolset to quickly develop real-time customized applications. Previously, the languages used in the middleware to develop real-time logic were non-Web-based. The combination of JavaScript V8 and the Omnitrol platform now allow developers with Web application experience to write real-time, event-driven operational intelligence and item-level traceability applications, through the ease of JavaScript programming. This, the company reports, will result in an expanded community of Web-based systems integrators and software developers capable of writing machine-to-machine (M2M) and sensor-driven automatic-identification applications, thereby facilitating the adoption and implementation of both RFID and wireless sensor solutions. In addition, Omnitrol notes that its EASE 4.0 platform is enhanced by JavaScript V8's more advanced logic execution speed. In contrast to previous generations of Java engines, V8 processes code natively, without interpretation, thereby increasing application performance. According to Omnitrol, fast event logic execution is critical in sensor-driven applications in which sub-second sense and response must be guaranteed.

Arcontia Unveils New Smart-Card Controller Board
Arcontia Technology, a Swedish producer of contactless smart-card readers and terminals, has announced a smart-card controller board for e-ticketing and e-payment applications. The ARC1810 has a fully embedded ISO 14443 A/B smart-card reader. According to the company, it is a suitable platform for integration in various contactless terminals used in transit and retail applications. Designed for use in such equipment as turnstile gates, driver consoles and ticket vending machines, the device provides system integrators and solutions providers with the flexibility to design and develop their own ticketing or payment terminals, the company reports. The board features a 400 MHz processor, and supports most global contactless standards, including the entire Mifare family, Smart MX and Calypso, as well as support for EMV contactless and Near Field Communications (NFC) applications, making it suitable for use in both existing and emerging contactless payment and ticketing markets. In addition to supporting a variety of communication interfaces, including Ethernet, USB, RS232 and RS485, the ARC1810 board runs on the Linux embedded operating system—which, Arcontia reports, makes it easier to integrate into existing environments.
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