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RFID News Roundup

AeroScout, McRoberts Security Technologies announce Wi-Fi-based infant-security solution; Holland 1916 intros Pipe Tracker tag for oil and gas operations; Murata, Beta Layout collaborate on kit for incorporating RFID chips on printed-circuit boards; SkyRFID releases RFID-based weapons-management solution; rfXcel unveils portal for tracing and authenticating pharmaceuticals; Canadian inland port readies new RFID cargo-security system; BeanAir intros integrated wireless sensor for light, temperature, humidity and dew point.
Feb 16, 2012The following are news announcements made during the past week.

AeroScout, McRoberts Security Technologies Announce Wi-Fi-based Infant-Security Solution
AeroScout, a provider of Wi-Fi-enabled real-time location systems (RTLS) for the health-care industry, and McRoberts Security Technologies, a supplier of patient-protection solutions, have announced the joint development of a Wi-Fi-based, campus-wide infant-security solution designed to help protect newborns from possible abduction during hospital stays. The AeroScout and McRoberts Infant Security solution employs a standard Wi-Fi infrastructure for determining location—which, according to the two companies, significantly reduces the time and cost to implement the system. The patented Umbilical Cord Infant Tag is Wi-Fi-based and attaches to a newborn's umbilical cord clamp. In the event that anyone attempts to leave the monitored area carrying a protected child without authorization, the system will trigger an alarm, activate magnetic door locks and immobilize specified elevators. The solution can be integrated with security and access-control systems, such as access cards, video surveillance, public-address systems and pagers, the two companies report. The infant-security tag is part of a complete Positive ID Kit, the partners note, that also significantly reduces the risk of accidental or intentional baby switching. The Infant Security system is the latest solution in AeroScout's Healthcare Visibility suite, which includes applications for asset tracking and management, temperature monitoring and hand hygiene monitoring, all of which can be deployed on the same RTLS.

Holland 1916 Intros Pipe Tracker Tag for Oil and Gas Operations
Holland 1916, a manufacturer of nameplates, panels, labels, touch screens, RFID solutions and other identification products, has unveiled its Pipe Tracker passive EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag, designed to provide automatic identification for tough-to-track assets in an oil and gas environment, such as flow iron, tubulars, joints and pressure-control equipment. According to Holland 1916, the reusable Pipe Tracker tag has been tested by customers over the past six months for well completion, hydraulic fracturing (frac) operations and pipe transportation. The tag provides a method for automatically identifying that the correct item is loaded for transport, the company reports, and also grants workers immediate access to inspection records, monitors check-in and check-out actions, and improves efficiencies in maintenance operations. "For seven years our oil and gas customer had tried to use RFID to identify pipes," said Jim Stradinger, Holland 1916's executive VP of sales, in a prepared statement. "While other vendors have created banded tags, the Pipe Tracker tag was suited best for the wear and tear of the pilot testing. In addition, the return on investment for our client was four times faster since the Pipe Tracker is reusable." The Pipe Tracker tag has a stainless-steel design and meets the IP69 IK-10 standards, which means the switch is designed to address high-pressure, high-temperature wash-down applications, is protected against dust, and can survive harsh oil and gas applications. The tag is offered with an embedded Xerafy Pico-iN or Nano-iN passive EPC Gen 2 UHF transponder, and a customer can also choose custom options for attachment, such as a slot for a steel band, or a hole for a steel cable. When the tag is to be repurposed for another asset, the attachment mechanism can simply be cut, and the tag can then be reapplied. Holland1916 provides custom-branding, human-readable markings, multiple attachment types and tag-encoding services.

Murata, Beta Layout Collaborate on Kit for Incorporating RFID Chips on Printed-Circuit Boards
Murata, a Japanese manufacturer of electronic components, modules and devices, and Beta Layout, a German company specializing in rapid printed-circuit board (PCB) prototyping services, have announced the launch of a starter kit for incorporating a passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID chip into a PCB. The kit includes RFID tags that can be attached to PCBs via Murata's MagicStrap technology. Aimed at engineers and developers wishing to quickly learn about RFID chips and incorporate them into their electronics design, the kit comprises a reader-writer board, communication software, two reader antennas and four types of MagicStrap RFID tag modules. One reader antenna is designed for standard applications in which the detection range is up to several meters. The loop antenna is provided for use in hidden applications, such as for anti-counterfeiting and brand protection. Applications include identifying individual PCBs over short distances, as well as bulk reading of MagicStrap-based PCB tags for logistics processes. According to the companies, the MagicStrap RFID solution can be used for all types of electronic devices, such as mobile phones, industrial control, and test and measurement equipment. Arne Hofmann, Beta Layout's CEO, says his firm now has a solution that embeds the MagicStrap into a PCB, which Beta Layout will sell as a service and product to customers, while also using the technology to improve its own processes. "One example for the improvement will be the identification of the single prototype PCB in our distribution department," Hoffman explains. "Up to now, the identification is done by an optical comparison of the real PCB with a picture of an outer layer. Sometimes, different PCBs look very similar, especially if they have the same format, and that bears the risk of sending the wrong PCB to the customer. In the past, we made tests with numbers, dot-matrix codes, bar codes and so on—all not of any use for us, because no customer wants the manufacturer to add anything on his layout." An embedded RFID chip not only takes up zero space on a PCB's surface, Hoffman notes, but it can also be used by a customer to improve its supply chain operations. The basic UHF RFID starter is available for purchase from Beta Layout.

SkyRFID Releases RFID-Based Weapons-Management Solution
SkyRFID, headquartered in Ontario, Canada, has announced the availability of its new ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2-based Multi-Site Web Based Weapons Management Solution. This system enables users to utilize RFID cards to access a facility's entrance, and RFID tags to track weapons, munitions, magazines, parts and tactical gear, such as body armor, night-vision optics and other high-value goods. It can also be used to track uniforms or any other assets that may need to be kept within an armory. Since all armories are different, SkyRFID reports, the solution has numerous security features and levels, ranging from static weapons monitoring to a full real-time location system (RTLS) with closed-circuit television (CCTV) functionality. Depending on a customer's particular needs, the solution can use SkyRFID's standard desktop reader-writer or SkyOEM handheld readers for fast scanning of multiple items. Complex armories can employ the Sky Super Small Safe and Rack Antennas, combined with special SkyOEM antenna-powered multiplexers that provide up to 256 shelf and safe antennas on a single port of a SkyOEM four-port fixed reader. The system allows real-time location down to less than 10 millimeters (0.4 inch) when deployed correctly, SkyRFID reports. Since an RTLS deployment can quickly utilize bandwidth, the solution can also use sensors that activate the RTLS by zones, enabling the RTLS usage only when necessary, and thereby reducing bandwidth and power consumption. The solution's Internet-based software employs the Secured Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol for communication security over the Internet, so authorized users can view reports and full details regarding all weapons in the system, wherever they may be located. The software uses a graphical interface that can be tailored to each armory's specific physical setting, the company reports, thus providing visual data that can be drilled down to the lowest possible granularity at any given time. Various top-level screen-menu functions provide for ease of use, with graphical views of each location that can be easily utilized to locate any items stored within the armory. According to the company, enhanced search capabilities provide quick access to required data via user set filters. With user-set security-access levels, information can also be easily exported from the system and e-mailed if needed, or be exported to another application. The solution works with traditional storage units—such as steel racks and safes—found in armories, and control can be limited to just monitoring the actual checking in and out of weapons, or be enhanced to a full-blown RTLS solution for all racks and safes (activated by motion sensors strategically located within the armory). Checking items in and out is just a matter of displaying an access card near the RFID reader at the checkout workstation, the firm notes, and then passing items over the same interrogator while visually observing every item as it is checked out on the display screen. In the event that a desk station fails to provide the versatility required for mass movement, the handheld interrogators can be used to quickly read RFID tags on weapons, ammunition and tactical gear. Door portals can also be established for additional automated check-in and checkout, in order to ensure that no items are missed. Inventory can be conducted using the handhelds, SkyRFID notes, and can be quickly matched to the graphical locations on the computer workstation, to determine if any objects are missing or are simply misplaced on the wrong shelf or rack, or in the incorrect safe. The solution can be securely hosted by SkyRFID, and larger armories necessitating more custom solutions will be locally supported by SkyRFID-authorized partners providing the implementation, training and support.

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