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RFID News Roundup

Avery Dennison intros ultra-small RFID inlay for item-level applications; fashion brand Dazzle implements item-level RFID with UPM RFID inlays; TravelCenters of America rolls out RFID transaction system; RFID newcomer Global Tag debuts with varied product suite; Walki unveils new way of producing RFID antennas; Smartrac acquires KSW Microtec; Microsoft announces its Tag app for smartphones is NFC-ready.
Dec 15, 2011The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Avery Dennison Intros Ultra-small RFID Inlay for Item-level Applications
Avery Dennison RFID has introduced a new, near-field ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) passive inlay measuring just 0.91 inch by 0.20 inch (23 millimeters by 5 millimeters), with a total surface area that, according to the company, is approximately one-third that of comparable tags, while delivering similar performance. Designed for challenging item-level applications, the EPC Gen 2-compliant AD-110m5 inlay is made with Impinj's Monza 5 microchip (see Impinj Launches Products to Speed Item-Level Encoding), and is insensitive to liquids, plastics and other RF-unfriendly materials as well, the company reports. "We've seen a lot of situations where the business case for item-level tracking was there but the right inlay was not," said Maggie Bidlingmaier, Avery Dennison RFID's global director of sales and marketing, in a prepared statement. "The AD-110m5's robust characteristics should meet those needs and open up new possibilities for applications that call for smaller, high-performance item-level RFID inlays." According to Impinj, tests of the new inlay with Impinj's near-field antennas and Speedway Revolution readers provided improved read performance with a variety of materials, which Impinj attributes to the combination of Avery Dennison's advanced antenna design and the Monza 5 chip's read sensitivity. Samples of the AD-110m5 inlay are available now, with production quantities slated to be made available during the first quarter of 2012.

Fashion Brand Dazzle Implements Item-Level RFID With UPM RFID Inlays
UPM RFID and partner Shanghai BizGrid Information Technology, a Chinese RFID solutions provider, have announced that they are working with international fashion brand Dazzle on an item-level RFID project being undertaken in China. This year, Dazzle's d'zzit fall and winter collection will carry EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) hangtags with UPM ShortDipole and UPM Belt RFID inlays that, the companies report, will improve supply chain and sales channel management. Dazzle hopes to improve its logistical efficiencies and shipping and receiving operations by reading the tags and verifying every shipment upon receipt. The firm also hopes to improve store inventory accuracy, by tracking garments with the RFID hangtags as they arrive at the shops, and by leveraging smart shelves. Using handheld readers, retail shop personnel can easily check inventory levels and replenish sold-out items. The third goal is to enable item-level tracking from storage to the point of sale, as well as verify garment authenticity. With a combined RFID reader and antenna at checkout, multiple garments could be scanned simultaneously for faster customer service. The RFID hangtags could also be used in conjunction with an electronic article surveillance (EAS) application, the companies report, for anti-theft purposes. During a second stage of implementation, Dazzle plans to leverage the system to develop smart displays that retailers could use to provide product information and offer matching accessories in interaction with customers. At its warehouses, the firm plans to utilize trolleys containing RFID readers to confirm that the correct apparel has been selected for shipment to retailers.

TravelCenters of America Rolls Out RFID Transaction System
TravelCenters of America (TA) has announced that it has agreed to purchase and install RFID technology at all of its locations nationwide. This technology, known as Fuel Island Manager, is distributed by Comdata Networks, and is being developed by QuikQ, based in Franklin, Tenn. Fuel Island Manager, designed as a fueling payment solution for travel centers and transportation companies, provides a faster, more efficient method for drivers to fuel, the company reports, while offering transportation companies additional options for controlling the fuel-purchasing process. Fuel Island Manager employs EPC Gen 2 passive RFID technology to automatically initiate transactions at fuel dispensers. To operate the system, TravelCenters of America explains, a trucking company would simply need to install the RFID tags within each of its vehicles, and the tags would then activate fuel dispensers at fueling stations equipped with Impinj RFID readers and antennas as vehicles pulled alongside them, according to each trucking company's specifications for a particular vehicle and location. The solution is designed to streamline the fueling process, thereby enabling drivers to spend less time at the pump since the tag eliminates most, if not all, data-entry tasks. Fuel Island Manager simplifies the overall fuel-purchasing process, because it automates transactions for drivers, expedites transaction authorization and reduces the chance of unauthorized purchases. RFID technology may also benefit trucking companies, the company adds, by reducing the amount of administration related to the issuance of physical payment cards. Headquartered in Westlake, Ohio, TA is a full-service national travel center chain in the United States, with 165 locations across 41 states. The company says it serves hundreds of thousands of professional drivers and other highway travelers each month, including virtually all major trucking fleets, and expects to begin installation at its locations nationwide next year. TravelCenters of America is not the first business to implement Fuel Island Manager technology. Love's Travel Stops is currently testing it at one of its locations in Oklahoma City (see Love's Tries RFID for Automating Fuel Payments).

RFID Newcomer Global Tag Debuts With Varied Product Suite
Global Tag, an RFID startup headquartered in Brescia, Italy, is debuting with a wide range of RFID tags and labels for a variety of markets and applications, including ticketing, industrial-automation, retailing, anti-counterfeiting, education and hospitality. The company, founded last month, is privately funded. Global Tag's catalog covers more than 200 products, divided into three different frequencies—125 kHz low-frequency (LF), 13.56 MHz high-frequency (HF) and 860 to 960 MHz ultrahigh-frequency (UHF)—as well as several dual-frequency RFID cards. According to Fabio Mazzola, from Global Tag's marketing department, the company can also produce various tag forms, including wristbands, key fobs, nails and paper tickets, available in a variety of sizes, with such custom printing options as bar codes and serial numbers. Other options include tags encased in glass, as well as those designed for use in or on metal. One of the newest entrants to Global Tag's line-up is the Tag Hercules RFID tag, a high-performance UHF tag with Alien Technology's Higgs 3 EPC Gen 2 inlay designed for use in identifying municipal garbage bins and pallets. "This kind of transponder, built with a hardy and waterproof plastic case with an IP67 protection rating, allows its use both indoors or outdoors," Mazzola says, "while two holes guarantee a quick installation on any surface, except for metal surfaces." Global Tag is currently selling its tags in Europe and North America, with plans to extend to emerging markets, such as Africa and South America. The company's entire product catalog, with technical specifications, photos and other information, is available on Global Tag's multilingual Web site.

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